Last year’s G1 Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck heads a list of five overseas trained runners to line up in Saturday’s (17 October) AU$5 million G1 Caulfield Cup (2400 metres) at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained entire was joined by Buckhurst for Joseph O’Brien, Dashing Willoughby (Andrew Balding) and returning visitors Prince Of Arran (Charlie Fellowes) and True Self (Willie Mullins), when the final field of 18 runners for the track’s flagship race was declared on Wednesday, 14 October.
The Australian challenge is led by the Chris Waller trained trio Verry Elleegant, Finche and Toffee Tongue, along with last year’s second and third placegetters, Vow And Declare and Mirage Dancer.
Overseas trained horses have won seven Caulfield Cups since Taufan’s Melody broke the ice in 1998 as well as five of the past eight with New Zealand’s Mongolian Khan (2015) included. Mer De Glace won last year for Japan, while Saeed bin Suroor claimed a second win with Best Solution in 2018 after All The Good won for the handler in 2008.
Anthony Van Dyck will be favoured off the back of his two good ground performances in 2020 – a second to Ghaiyyath in the G1 Coronation Cup (2400m) and victory over Stradivarius in the G2 Prix Foy (2400m) at Longchamp. He did fail in last year’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at his most recent foray outside Europe, but jockey Ryan Moore said he was feeling the effects of a long seven runs in seven months campaign.
Significant rainfall is forecast later in the week in Melbourne and a rain affected track would not advantage the visitor but would certainly favour Waller’s two mares with Verry Elleegant an eight times winner on slow and heavy ground, while Toffee Tongue’s one career win came on soft ground in the G1 Australasian Oaks (2000m) at Morphettville.
Last year’s placegetters Vow And Declare and Mirage Dancer are progressing well according to their respective trainers Danny O’Brien and Trent Busuttin (who trains in partnership with Natalie Young).
Vow And Declare will attempt to emulate Dunaden (2012) and Viewed (2009) as winners of the Caulfield Cup the year after taking Flemington’s famous Melbourne Cup (3200m).
“He’s in good shape, coming along nicely and we’re expecting him to run well in the Caulfield Cup,” O’Brien said.
Mirage Dancer prepared for the race with a strong win in the G1 Metropolitan (2400m) at Royal Randwick on 3 October. “I can’t see any reason why he couldn’t run as well as last year. I don’t think the race is any stronger,” Busuttin said.