GLEN BOSS gets the vital "balls of steel" rating, a British term for courage and excellence in the saddle, for a jockey in the Melbourne Cup. Boss won three in a row on champion mare Makybe Diva and rode just as well on Zipping in the big one last year, but the gelding didn’t have the horsepower to stay the 3200-metre journey.
Perhaps that’s the risk with his mount today, Profound Beauty, successful over 2800m but being by Danehill suspect over the longer distance. However, she is trained by Dermot Weld, who knows what is required to win the Cup, already notching two – Media Puzzle (2002) and Vintage Crop (1993).
Weld switched from the Irish riders to Aussie navigators and used Damien Oliver to advantage on Media Puzzle. On his recent form in the race, Boss is "The Man" but Ollie (Damien Oliver), who handles Mad Rush for Luca Cumani, is well versed in Flemington conditions.
A five-year-old mare, Profound Beauty has won three out of 10 and most Sandown watchers rate her gallops the best of the visiting contingent. "She may be too brilliant," Boss commented.
With the Aidan O’Brien three the Melbourne Cup should be a true staying test, put on for topweight Septimus, rated the best stayer in Europe. Maybe the burden, 58.5kg, will be a problem but given a good passage by John Murtagh it won’t stop him. "This is a handicap but he’s a great horse and great horses can overcome these things," Murtagh commented.
Septimus bolted away with the Irish St Leger last start. What benefit a pacemaker was to him is difficult to ascertain. The pacemaker went so fast he led by more than 10 lengths but wilted to the degree that at the finish it looked like he had a bleeding attack.
Mad Rush seems well placed with 53.5kg. A five-year-old stallion, Mad Rush indicated in the Caulfield Cup that he has acclimatised well.
From barrier four Ollie is expected to give him the run of the race. In the Cup last year the Ollie-Cumani combination ended up second with Purple Moon and the jockey has been runner-up for the past two years, also filling the position on the Japanese stayer Pop Rock. Purple Moon and Pop Rock had lead-ups in the Caulfield Cup and neither was more impressive than Mad Rush this year.
Of the Australians, Master O’Reilly impresses as having the best prospects, while New Zealand should do best with Nom Du Jeu. Master O’Reilly is prepared by another O’Brien who has three acceptors. Apart from Master O’Reilly, Danny O’Brien has form horses Gallopin and Barbaricus. Master O’Reilly was strongly fancied and disappointing in the Big One last year but has had a different preparation this campaign. The six-year-old’s effort behind the placegetters in the Caulfield Cup was encouraging for a more demanding test. Forget about the Cox Plate subsequently. It was a trot and canter and only useful exercise for Master O’Reilly.
Should the heavens open or the irrigation be left on, Nom Du Jeu and the other New Zealander C’Est La Guerre will be advantaged. Following his Caulfield Cup second, however, Nom Du Jeu appeals most.
Nom Du Jeu is on my shortlist, with Mad Rush, Septimus, Dermot Weld and Master O’Reilly. Bauer, a stablemate of Mad Rush, and C’est La Guerre are just behind them. The Bart Cummings pair, Viewed and Moatize, are difficult to get into the top bracket but them just being in the field is a credit to his mastery.
VERDICT: "Balls of Steel" will take Profound Beauty just so far, but Mad Rush will go even further. Ollie to win with Septimus also in the finish.