Almandin Chases Bart Cummings and Ballot Exemption for Melbourne Cup

6 October, 2017

Almandin, the 2016 winner of the Melbourne Cup, will jump this weekend in the Group 3 Bart Cummings (2500 m) at Flemington. He won the race last year, so form would dictate that should he win again this year, he would post a double in the Melbourne Cup.

Punters know it often does not work that way, however, and Almandin is, if nothing else, an enigmatic quality that has raced only twice in 2017 since winning the Cup last year. He managed a second to Ireland’s Pacodali in late August in the MSC Signs Handicap (2040 m). The margin was ¾ of a length and Almandin did have to spot Pacodali 6.5 kg.

Almandin has not won at 2000 m since his maiden back in November of 2013 when he ran in a three-horse race in Germany.

It is hard for true stayers to get much work these days. Almandin ran and won the JRA Trophy (2500 m) in September and the Bart Cummings is one of his few opportunities to run some distance in his preparation for the Cup.

It is not yet known if Almandin will run in the Caufield Cup, but his pattern thus far suggests that a three-week interval between races is not likely, even if punters would flock to a Cups double prospect. He did not run the Caulfield Cup last year. The space between this year’s edition and the Melbourne Cup is just 16 days, so it is unlikely that trainer Robert Hickmott would risk the $3.6 million prize for winning the Melbourne Cup for a race that offers only $3 million in total prize money.

Jameka won the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (1800 m) ahead of her Caulfield Cup win last year, but she floundered badly in the 2016 Melbourne Cup, finishing 15th of 24.

If that outcome is not sufficient warning to steer Hickmott away from the Caulfield Cup and save Almandin for the Melbourne Cup, we can think of nothing that would suffice.