Can Bowman ride Cup favourite to $5m bounty?
AIDAN O'Brien's team bullishly predicts The Cliffsofmoher will "go close" to winning Saturday's $5 million Caulfield Cup amid suggestions the stayer is among the best Ballydoyle has ever sent to Australia.
O'Brien's foreman TJ Comerford said The Cliffsofmoher was in similar form to Johannes Vermeer before he finished third to Boom Time in last year's Cup.
The Cliffsofmoher will be ridden by Hugh Bowman as rival jockey Pat Cosgrave (Best Solution) rated the Irish star the horse to beat.
Comerford oozed confidence after The Cliffsofmoher's surging fourth in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes.
"I would say he will go close on Saturday" Comerford said.
"We are very happy, he came out of his race very well
"He's good and fresh, he's trained away, nothing serious. He's in very good form this morning."
The Cliffsofmoher will jump from barrier three, paving the way for Bowman to ride a patient race just off the speed.
"Aidan is happy with (gate) three," Comerford said.
"It's a good draw so we can ride him as we find him. He needs to drop in a bit but that won't be a problem, at least he will be able to save a bit of ground doing it."
Asked if he was more confident than last year, Comerford said: "Overall I'm more confident than last year.
"We had a good start last weekend, so hopefully if we run well this weekend we can keep it going.
"I suppose we are not expected to win, we are expected to run well, so if we win it's a bonus."
Cosgrave was taken with The Cliffsofmoher's Australian debut.
"I thought The Cliffsofmoher was a big run from back in the field last Saturday," Cosgrave said.
"It was 10 furlongs (2000m) and I think he'll improve going up to 2400m.
"I think he's one of our dangers but there are quite a few horses in the race with chances.
"I've only got to give him a kilo, which is not so bad.
"I think it's gonna be a fascinating race but he was one of the eye-catchers last week, coming off the speed."
The Cliffsofmoher is a Ladbrokes $7 third favourite behind Kings Will Dream ($5) and Youngstar ($5.50).
Best Solution, a dual Group 1 winner, is quoted at $15 - a figure which astounds Cosgrave.
"He has got top weight for a reason, the handicapper thinks he is the best horse in the race," Cosgrave said.
"I was surprised he was such a big price, he's a dual group 1 winner.
"I suppose it takes a bit of pressure off me being such a big price, which is good in a way. Hopefully he is going to run a nice race."
MICHAEL MANLEY PREVIEWS THE CAULFIELD CUP
Track: Good 4
Rail: Out 6m (True previous meeting)
Forecast: 19C (Chance of showers)
LLOYD Williams pair of HOMESMAN and THE TAJ MAHAL from an outside draw will push forward. ACE HIGH and KINGS WILL DREAM should take up a good spot on the speed. Raiders DURETTO, RED VERDON and BEST SOLUTION can race on the speed.
Has always shown talent but has really lifted at his past three starts with a Group 2 win at Newmarket followed by two German Group One wins over 2400m. Highest rated galloper in this race. Will work forward from his outside draw.
Cracking trial for this when he made his Australian debut last Saturday when fourth in the Caulfield Stakes running his last 600m in 33.71 seconds. 2017 English Derby runner-up who has the form to win this.
Intriguing runner. He's rated the highest of any Japanese runner to have started here. He finished a close fifth in the Tenno Sho two starts ago which is one of Japan's feature races.
Tough Kiwi whose lead-up form has been solid. His chances will be helped with a wet track. He was unlucky in this race last year as he was checked with 200m to go when ninth, beaten five lengths.
German stayer making Australian debut with great form with two wins and two placings leading up to this. At his last start he finished second to Best Solution in Germany at Group 1 level and will meet him 1.5kgs better.
He's flying the flag for the local stayers. He won the Victoria Derby and was beaten in a photo when second in the ATC Derby last season. Last start Group 2 winner at Randwick and has Ollie aboard. Won't be far away.
THE TAJ MAHAL
Strong on speed win in the JRA Cup where he burst clear with 600m to go and withstood a late challenge from the in-form rival Gallic Chieftain. He finished fourth in last year's Emirates Stakes and easily won the Zipping Classic over this distance. Big chance.
Tough English stayer who likes to race handy and is a last start Listed winner. Finished third behind Best Solution two starts ago at Group 2 level, beaten less than a length and will meet him 2.5kgs better. From his last 11 starts he's had three wins, two seconds and three thirds.
Another well credentialed English stayer. Put together four consecutive seconds before finding distance too far in Lonsdale Cup. He finished in front of The Cliffsofmoher three starts ago. Trained by Red Cadeaux's Ed Dunlop.
Solid Mike Moroney trained former German stayer who came to the fore last spring with wins in the Geelong Cup and Queen Elizabeth. Moroney believes he's a better horse this year. Ready to run well at big odds.
From the same stable that produced last year's $101 winner Boom Time and he's got better form than he did going into last year's race. Finished 1.85 lengths away from Winx when fourth in the Turnbull Stakes. He also finished third in this year's Australian Cup.
Stunned racegoers when he won the Caulfield Guineas last year at $101 and this would be the knockout blow if he won this. In seven starts since the closest he's finished has been sixth although he's been unlucky on occasions. Query at the distance too.
Worked hard early when he tired in the Caulfield Stakes last week but held on well for seventh behind Benbatl. He's a tough honest on-pacer and with his lightweight he's going to run a huge race.
KINGS WILL DREAM
Exciting staying prospect whose lead-up form has been excellent with three excellent effort in weight-for-age lead-up races before last start third behind Winx in the Turnbull Stakes. Only run this distance won the Mornington Cup by five lengths. Go close.
Japanese visitor who finished a close-up fifth in the Group 2 Meguro Kinen at Tokyo at his last start in May. Group 3 placegetter last year. Drawn badly but creates some interest.
Ran on powerfully when he stretched The Taj Mahal in the JRA Cup at The Valley two starts ago before again finishing solidly for fourth behind Yucatan in the Herbert Power last Saturday. With luck in running he could be placed.
Solid effort last Saturday when sixth in the Caulfield Stakes where he held his spot. Drops to 52kgs and Darren Weir is sure to have him ready for 2400m. Worth though.
Threatened to upstage her more illustrious stablemate for a brief moment but in the finish had no answer to Winx's finishing burst. Carried 54.5kg and drops to 51.5kg. She's going to run a huge race.
Gutsy run on win last start in The Metropolitan at Randwick but that wasn't a high class race. In the Waller barn so is on the improve.
His Flemington form has been fantastic with two wins and a close second at his last start behind Avilius. Only failure was a last at this track and distance three starts ago.
Damien Oliver who rides ACE HIGH has won four Caulfield Cups. If he can win this year he'll equal Scobie Breasley on five wins as the most successful jockey in this race. No set in stone form pattern going into this race but five winners in the past nine years contested the Turnbull Stakes at their previous starts. The Turnbull Stakes runners this year are YOUNGSTAR, KINGS WILL DREAM, VENTURA STORM, JON SNOW and MIGHTY BOSS.