Aidan O”Brien’s Yucatan will go off favourite for the Melbourne Cup 2018.
His last run in Ireland was on a summers evening in August where he ran third in a tight finish for second headed by Eziyra and Stellar Mass close home.
He went down under to contest the G2 Herbert Power Stakes winning it as easily as he liked in what only can be described as a caught the eye performance, coming from nearly last to first, cruising past the opposition he won eased down. He was a revelation compared to the form shown at home, the authority the Australian public saw that day was never displayed in Ireland.
Maybe it’s the trip that has brought out the best in him, he might be loving the holidays, or possibly the form of the G2 Herbert Power is questionable, questionable compared to European form that is. Aidan O’Brien has improved horses beyond recognition many times before however in the Ballydoyle pecking order Yucatan would have been considered third ranked of their trio on what he’d achieved in Europe.
Cliffsofmoher will be partnered by Ryan Moore who travels from Kentucky, overall he’s a a very decent colt who’s possibly just a tad under high quality. His best run remains the 2017 Epsom Derby where he ran second but his Caulfield Cup run was encouraging.
Rostropovich will be partnered by Wayne Lordan who also makes the trip from Kentucky. His best run was second in this years Irish Derby. As a three year old he’s the beneficiary of the weight allowance as is Godolphin’s Cross Counter and both are in the mix as a result.
The key to this Melbourne Cup may well have been found in the closing race of the Irish flat season, the Listed Finale Stakes at Naas on Sunday. It was won in the style Yucatan displayed to the Aussie audience by Ger Lyons Mustajeer by a very easy 7L, he pulverised them.
His previous run was the Ebor at York in August which with a £500,000 pot now requires a G1 horse to win it. Mustajeer was outpaced but ran on really well to get up up be fourth. The winner of the Ebor was John Gosden’s Muntahaa who comes here fresh having not run since. Jim Crowley who travelled a week early to be here is in the plate. He was very impressive at York, well as Mustajeer ran he was never going to beat the winner.
The market is shaped by the Herbert Park form and that is a concern, Yucatan would not have won the Ebor, that form looks much more solid.
Recommendation: Muntahaa 10/1 win, Rostropovich 20/1 ew
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