Unlike the Melbourne Cup, the spring’s other big Group 1 staying handicap – the $5 million Caulfield Cup (2400m) – has proven a winnable option for horses with big weights.
While just two of the past 12 Melbourne Cup winners carried more than 54.5kg – one of which was Fiorente (55kg) – seven Caulfield Cup winners in the same time have lumped at least 55kg.
Fawkner and Mongolian Khan both had 55kg while Mer De Glace carried half-a-kilo more than them and all others at least 57kg. That was the weight Viewed won with and Best Solution won with 57.5kg, while Admire Rakti and Dunaden both had 58kg. Also in that period, All The Good won with 54.5kg.
Anthony Van Dyck will break new ground if he wins with 58.5kg, a weight – or equivalent of – that has been carried to victory nine times but not since the introduction of the metric system in 1972.
The 9 stone 13 pounds (63kg) that Redcraze carried to victory in 1956 is the weight-carrying record, while Tobin Bronze (9.10, or 61.5kg) is the most recent horse to carry at least 58.5kg to victory.
16 horses have attempted to win it with 58.5kg or more since 1972, with Hyperno’s second placing under 59kg in 1980 the best result. Kingston Town, who finished third in the same race with 60kg, and Gunsynd – third under 62kg in 1972 – are the only others to place.
Mind you, it’s been a while since a horse even tried it, with Subzero the most recent to run in a Caulfield Cup with at least 58.5kg. He finished 12th under that weight in 1993.
Anthony Van Dyck is not the only horse striving to set a metric record on Saturday, with Verry Elleegant, who has 55kg, also a chance to go where no mare has gone since 1972.
Tranquil Star, who won with 8 stone 12 pounds (56kg) in 1942, owns the weight-carrying record for a mare, with Mannerism’s win under 54.5kg in 1992 the greatest weight-carrying performance by a mare since 1972.
The five other mares to have won in the past 30 years all carried 52.5kg or less.
There are only two other mares engaged on Saturday; True Self (52kg) and Toffee Tongue (51kg).
The other thing that looks bad on paper for Anthony Van Dyck is the second-widest barrier, but his fans can take solace in recent results.
Three of the past four winners with at least 57kg started from 13 or wider, including Dunaden, who also started from the outside alley. Last year’s winner Mer De Glace came from barrier 17, making it seven wins from the past 11 for horses from double-digit gates.
Viewed won from 13 in 2009 – one of three horses to win from that alley in the past 30 years – and it’s the equal-second most-successful barrier along with three, five and seven in that time.
Barrier nine – the gate Finche will jump from if the second, third and fourth emergencies don’t gain a start – is the most successful in that time with four wins.
The inside starting position, which Dashing Willoughby has inherited thanks to the scratching of Aktau, owns a famous hoodoo, having not provided a winner since Velocity in 1941.
Anthony Van Dyck was displaced as favourite after the barrier draw, but the Caulfield Cup hasn’t been a great race of late for the horse at the head of the market.
Six of nine favourites won between 1999 and 2007, but Mongolian Khan ($5, 2015) and Jameka ($4.20, 2016) are the only favourites to score since.
Eight of the other nine were between $8 and $17, the exception being Boom Time at $51. There have only been three winners at a longer price than Boom Time; Saint Warden (100/1) and 66/1 shots Northwind (1936) and Taufan’s Melody (1998).
The Caulfield Cup will be Anthony Van Dyck’s first start since winning the G2 Prix Foy (2400m) at Longchamp on September 13 and the six internationally trained Caulfield Cup winners all won it at their first start in Australia for the campaign.
Of the local lead-ups, one race stands out above all others – the Turnbull Stakes.
Eleven of the 24 Australasian-trained winners since 1990 had their final lead-up run in the 2000-metre set-weights-and-penalties event at Flemington, while two others ran in it two starts before the Cup, meaning the Turnbull features in the lead-up form of 13 of the past 24 Australasian winners.
Of those 13, nine filled a trifecta slot in the Turnbull Stakes.
The Verdict: Hard to split the Turnbull Stakes minor placegetters TOFFEE TONGUE (51kg) and FINCHE (54.5kg) and given they are $14 and $13 respectively, we’ll back both straight out instead of one of them each way.