herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Bondi beach bid stalls with draw

O'Brien horse win would make history

Aidan O’Brien’s Kingfisher (pictured) has a better chance due to the draw compared with his other horse in the Emirates Melbourne Cup, Bondi Beach
Aidan O’Brien’s Kingfisher (pictured) has a better chance due to the draw compared with his other horse in the Emirates Melbourne Cup, Bondi Beach

Praise for American Pharaoh's historic Breeders' Cup success on Saturday was coming from all angles and truly deserved as he added to the feat of becoming the first American Triple Crown winner since 1978 by completing the Grand Slam and taking the Breeders' Cup Classic in a record-breaking time.

The Bob Baffert-trained superstar bounced back from a shock defeat in the Travers Stakes to knock a massive five-seconds off the track record at Keeneland, recording a six and a half length win under Victor Espinoza.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien, who ran Gleneagles in the Classic and sent out Found to overturn Golden Horn in the Breeders' Cup Turf, said of American Pharaoh's sensational performance: "You won't see many things in your life to rival what he has achieved".

Former jockey Johnny Murtagh tweeted: "I don't think I have seen a better horse. What a performance. Awesome."

But as the sport's most famous horse bowed out from his career on the racetrack to become a stallion at Coolmore, attention now turns to the world's most famous race as three Irish runners contest the Emirates Melbourne Cup tomorrow at 4.0am Irish time.

Aidan O'Brien hasn't been back to Flemington since running three horses in the 2008 renewal and if the three-year-old Bondi Beach is going to give Ballydoyle a first win in the race he'll have to make history in the process as no horse has ever won from stall 18 , which he was drawn on Saturday.

His stable companion Kingfisher has the much more favourable draw of number 9 but has failed, in two outings since, to recapture the form that almost won him an Ascot Gold Cup, when he was a somewhat unlucky loser behind current Emirates Melbourne Cup second favourite Trip To Paris.

Willie Mullins will have just his third runner in the race but his second in three years. Having learned a lot more about the race when sending out Simenon to finish fourth here in 2013, there is plenty of confidence around that Max Dynamite may still be progressing in the right direction to win a race of this magnitude following his facile win in the Lonsdale Cup at York.

The market for the race is formed by eye-catching runs in the Caulfield Cup, with the Japanese horse Fame Game a very short-priced favourite after finishing sixth behind Mongolian Khan last month.

The five-year-old was certainly doing his best work at the finish on that occasion and although it was a very good run it remains questionable whether or not he should be as short as 9/4 to win such a race.

Trip To Paris was the surprise package of the Caulfield Cup, finishing second and showing a turn of foot that the Ascot Gold Cup winner hadn't previously displayed and many in Melbourne can see no other winner of the famous race, despite the fact that Max Dynamite had him 11 and a half lengths behind at York. Although probably not a true reflection of form, it wasn't have been sensationally out of place either.

On paper, Bondi Beach looked to be the one horse in the field that was capable of making a mockery of the competitive slant that is being put on this race as he is a very unlucky English St Leger loser and a progressive three-year-old with only five runs to his name.

Inexperience was the only lingering negative but now with a barrier draw that has made Melbourne Cup history for only the wrong reasons, Bondi Beach may have to be very special to become the third Irish winner.

Tom Magnier, son of Coolmore supermo John and head of the Australian operation, was at Werribee to watch both Kingfisher and Bondi Beach quicken up the straight for the last time in their preparations and both certainly caught the eye yesterday morning. He told the Herald: "The horses both adapted very well to the travel and they are both in great form as we saw this morning but it is a Melbourne Cup and we need a lot of luck.

"Kingfisher is in great order and Aidan is very happy with the way he has been going every morning. He has a good temperament and I think he will handle the occasion on the day. Bondi Beach is a Eurorpean three-year-old and is a progressive horse."

excited

Colm O'Donoghue who rides Kingfisher was "very happy" with what he watched from the stand yesterday morning and is clearly excited about the prospect of riding Kingfisher, while 2012 winning rider Brett Prepple will bid to add another Cup on Bondi Beach.

O'Donoghue, who was onboard Bondi Beach in that St Leger, said of the Ballydoyle runners: "Kingfisher has got a great draw and he has experience. He is a great mover and he'll handle the ground. He was second in an Irish Derby so he has tactical speed and I think you need that to win a Melbourne Cup. Bondi Beach is relatively inexperienced but he has got good credentials to him and he's got the ability."

The home challenge can't be ignored either and Chris Waller is becoming the Australian Aidan O'Brien with his success. Derby winner Preferment looks the pick of his but there's no doubt that Max Dynamite has a lot going for him and our champion jumps trainer is excited ahead of tomorrow's race.

"I'm happy with the draw," Mullins said. "We've been very happy with how he has settled and trained and he appeared great after his final breeze on Saturday morning and we are looking forward to Tuesday.

"We felt his Northumberland Plate run could win us a Lonsdale Cup but what we didn't expect was the way he won it and that was our ticket to come across here. We think everything has gone right since but you have to have a clear run and luck in running."

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