Punters looking for a horse to back for the 2017 Melbourne Cup might be swayed in the direction of last year’s winner, Almandin.
Possibly the only thing going against him is that there has not been a repeat winner since Makybe Diva in 2005. Those with a background in thoroughbred racing know, of course, that the Diva was repeating a repeat, backing her wins in 2003 and 2004.
Almandin looked impressive in the Listed Japan Racing Association Trophy (2500 m) at Flemington. Damien Oliver eased him toward the finish after establishing such a lead that at one point, Oliver could be seen looking over his shoulder to see if he and Almandin were the sole pair in the race.
Oliver was not aboard last year when Almandin saluted. Something or other to do with a weight issue. Instead, it was Kerrin McEvoy. Almandin was able to sneak into the 2016 Cup with only 52 kg, an advantage of 2 kg over France’s Heartbreak City and 4 kg over Great Britain’s Hartnell.
Almandin has drawn 56.5 kg for this year’s Cup and it seems as though Oliver has been avoiding Eagle Boys for the most part, although we cannot say for certain, because Almandin was lugging 61 kg in the JRA Trophy, taking out Ireland’s Crocodile Rock that had a seven kg advantage and Ireland’s Aloft in third with 56.5 kg.
Almandin will defend the Cup title well rested, having run only twice since winning at Flemington. He posted a second at Moonee Valley in a handicap in late August to Pacodali, another Irish horse.
As the number of staying races has declined over the years, horses of Almandin’s calibre do not get all that much work. In Almandin’s case, prior to the JRA Trophy and the Cup, he has not run beyond 2500 m since his lead up to the Cup, which was the Group 3 Bart Cummings (2500 m) in October of 2016.