Some of Australia’s best middle distance horses will race for $1.5 million this weekend in the time-honoured Australian Cup at Flemington.
First run in 1863, the race has been won by some of the greatest ever Australian race horses including Dulcify, Vo Rogue, Let’s Elope, Octagonal, and Makybe Diva.
This year’s race has attracted some quality horses and is a very open betting race.
Below, you can find our thoughts on each runner in our 2021 Australian Cup Preview.
Humidor was reinvigorated by Chris Waller during the spring after a failed move out west.
The three-time Group 1 winner won the Group 2 Feehan Stakes in September before placing at Group 1 level at his next two to show there is still some fight in the old boy yet.
The now eight year old won the 2017 edition of Australian Cup and at his best is very much capable of giving this a real shake.
His first up effort in the Group 1 C.F Orr was full of merit as the leaders had the back markers off the bit heading around the turn.
He found the line really nicely that day, he is a horse that improves sharply second up from a spell and the 2000m suits him to a tee.
Harlem is one of only five horses to have won the Australian Cup in back to back years in 2018 and 2019.
He has had 12 starts at Flemington for just the two wins, those two Australian Cups, and he comes into this race off the back of a 7th and an 8th at his last two.
The nine year old is clearly telling the Dabernig and Hayes camp that he is enjoying his racing as he has not been for a lengthy spell in quite some time and he brings residual fitness into this race.
He finished within two lengths of Paradee in the Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield last time out and the step up in distance suits.
He is a tough one to map as his racing pattern changes from race to race but I’d like to see him drop back to last and be able to show his good turn of foot late in the race.
Fifty Stars has not won for 12 months but that win came in the 2020 edition of this race.
He has had 11 starts at Flemington for four wins and three placings including a second in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes in the spring and a narrow second last start in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes.
The son of Sea The Stars was last on the turn in the Blamey when attempting to run down the runaway leader Buffalo River and whilst he got to the leader, he was ultimately edged out by Star of The Seas.
He is on the quick back up from last week, something that he did in the spring after the Kennedy Cantala when finishing second in the Mackinnon a week later.
He’ll take plenty of improvement from his last run and third up out to 2000m looks ideal.
One of the leading chances.
Homesman is not the best horse to come from Macedon Lodge but he has been a very handy horse over his 23 start career.
For a seven year old gelding he is a fairly lightly raced horse, with the Lloyd and Nick Williams being very careful with the placement of the horse.
He has had 10 attempts at Group 1 level for a single win in the 2018 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield but he gets his chance in a pretty weak edition of the Australian Cup this year.
His first up effort in the Peter Young Stakes was excellent when attempting to lead all the way.
Paradee went past him when they turned but Homesman never gave in and fought back to go down by under a length.
I’m not sure Flemington suits him but he is very consistent early on in his campaigns and is not without a hope.
The Anthony Freedman trained Warning has not won since his victory in the 2019 Victoria Derby here at Flemington.
He did not finish better than sixth in his four runs during the 2020 spring but did get within a length of Verry Elleegant in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at this track and distance.
There is no doubt that he is a talented stayer but with no trial to go on and such a long time between wins it is hard to recommend him against some seasoned and proven Group 1 performers first up.
Angel Of Truth
Angel Of Truth has a very similar profile to the horse above having not a race since his Australian Derby win in 2019.
He clearly has plenty staying ability and his third in the Group 1 Metropolitan in his final spring run showed that he is certainly not out of place in Group 1 company.
The Hawkes trained five year old has finished sixth in his two runs so far this prep and finished just over a length behind Paradee in the Peter Young leading into this.
He is not the roughest but prefer others.
Best Of Days
Best Of Days won the Group 3 Carlyon Stakes two starts back but that win may have flattered him a little bit.
He controlled the pace out in front and had every right to win after a very slow tempo throughout the run.
The seven year old gelding has been a consistent horse for the Godolphin racing machine over the e=years but he has just the single Group 1 win from 11 attempts at the highest level of racing.
He should have a fitness edge over the majority of these runners and while it wouldn’t shock if he won, I prefer others.
Steel Prince went from a benchmark 78 at Sandown to a Listed winner at Flemington during five wins on the trot in the autumn of 2019.
The connections then plotted a path through to the 2019 Melbourne Cup where he finished just over two lengths away from the winner Vow And Declare.
Fast forward to 2021 and the now seven year old gelding is lining up in an Australian Cup having finished within a length of Paradee in the Peter Young Stakes first up.
He was posted three wide without cover in that race with Jamie Kah forced to sit right up on the speed which was not ideal.
The tough run throughout looked like it was going to takes it toll as that cornered around Caulfield but he picked up really well late and found the line well.
While he is a genuine stayer, he clearly has an affinity with Flemington and he will take plenty of benefit from that tough first up run.
He has many jockeys throughout his career but the fact that Jamie Kah is sticking should give us plenty of confidence.
He represents really good value at his current price.
Chapada is one of the most progressive staying horses in the country and he showed this during a very good spring campaign.
He narrowly missed in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield before winning the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes at his next start.
A third in the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth on the final day of the Flemington carnival proved that there is plenty more wins in store for this horse.
He has missed a place just once in his last five starts at Flemington and in that race he was beaten less than two lengths.
The son of Bullet Train was a part of the blanket finish for third in the Peter Young and while this is short of his preferred distance, he is the best roughie in the race.
Platoon had his first start on the east coast when finishing third in the Group 3 Shaftesbury Avenue at Flemington last weekend over 1400m.
He earned his trip to Victoria with a win in the Listed Cyril Flower Stakes at Ascot and was excellent behind Morvada ad Holbien.
He brings plenty of residual fitness from a tough summer campaign in the west and while he will appreciate the step up to a more suitable distance, I’m not sure he has the class to win an Australian Cup.
Shared Ambition gets his second crack at a Group 1 having finished 14th in the 2020 Doncaster Handicap at his only run at the top level.
The five year old gelding has failed to win a Group race but has been placed on four occasions.
He was excellent when winning first up at Randwick before a second in the Peter Young Stakes earned him this shot at the Australian Cup.
You can’t knock his recent form but considering his record at this level of racing It’s hard to recommend him at his current quote.
Defibrillate ticks a lot of boxes heading into this year’s edition of the Australian Cup.
Patrick Payne has been very careful with the placement of this talented and lightly raced six year old gelding but the fact is that he has now won his last four in a row and nine of his 13 overall.
It was a matter of time before the bar was raised and once the 2021 Australian Cup field was ripped of some of the better credentialed horse who targeted the All-Star Mile instead, this looked the perfect race.
He’s seen Flemington three times for two wins including a a huge win from near last over 2000m in January.
It’s not the horses he has been beating that impresses the most but rather the way in which is does it with such ease.
He will have a fitness advantage over a few of these at the top of the field and although this is a big step up in grade I think he is the horse to beat from a good draw in barrier four.
The French import San Huberto finished eighth in the 2020 Geelong Cup at his Australian debut and then ran third in the Sandown Cup.
He finished second behind Defibrillate in the Mornington Cup Preview first up at Caulfield this prep and will only take improvement from that run.
He has drawn well in barrier six and there has been a little bit of early support in betting suggesting the horse will run well.
Nonconformist is another progressive type of horse who comes into this race off the back of two really nice runs.
He was excellent when doing his best work late to finish third in the Group 3 Carlyon Cup and then was a part of the blanket finish for third in the Peter Young Stakes.
Two of his four wins have been at Group level and he finished 9th in his only start at the highest level when finishing 3.25 lengths off Yulong Prince in the Kennedy Cantala Stakes.
He has a perfect winning record over 2000m from two races and the blinkers go on for the first time!
The 2019 Victoria Oaks winner Miami Bound gets another chance at Group 1 glory in the 2021 Australian Cup.
She had failed to place in sixth subsequent runs after that Oaks win before proving she was still a threat at Group level when winning the Moonee Valley Gold Cup in the spring last year.
It’s hard to assess her first up run in the Group 3 Carlyon Cup as they just went so slow in front that it was almost impossible to make up ground.
She will be fitter for that run but she remains one of the most unlikely winners in the field.
Miss Siska is another that is coming out of that slowly run Carlyon Cup that was won by Best Of Days.
The 2020 Peter Young Stakes winner stuck on well to finish second in that race and she is a mare that races pretty consistently.
Michael Dee has drawn well in barrier five and can take a sit on the speed and if he can control the tempo in front, she can be in this race for a long way.
Paradee has opened on the second line of betting for the 2021 Australian Cup after a string of really good performances in recent times.
She had a successful trip north to Queensland during the summer landing two wins on the Gold Coast in back to back weeks.
When these mares find form, they tend to hold it for a while and it really is tough to try and develop an argument to why she can not win her maiden Group 1.
Craig Williams will steer from barrier one.