A strong field of internationals will take their place this Saturday at Caulfield in what is shaping up to be another wide-open edition of the $5 million Caulfield Cup.
The 2400m staying test has attracted the likes of last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Gold Trip, alongside a host of overseas raiders including Without A Fight, Japanese superstar Breakup, and last-start Turnbull Stakes runner-up, West Wind Blows.
After winning last year with Durston, champion trainer Chris Waller is attempting to win for a third time with the likes of Soulcombe and Montefilia, while leading overseas trainer Joseph O’Brien has also accepted with intriguing Irish import, Okita Soushi.
The top of the market tells you all you need to know, and with a case to be made for more than a few, we’ve analysed every runner in our 2023 Caulfield Cup Preview below!
2023 Caulfield Cup Field Update: No. 7 Nonconformist (19) has been scratched after failing his final vet check.
2023 Caulfield Cup Betting Strategy
- 1 Unit Without A Fight
- 1 Unit Hoo Ya Mal
- 0.5 Unit Duke De Sessa
1. Gold Trip (11)
Gold Trip continues on the path to the Melbourne Cup with a remarkable win in the Turnbull Stakes now under his belt.
The Maher and Eustace-trained entire went around at big odds in his second run back at Flemington two weeks ago, storming down the outside to win by 1.75 lengths thanks to a peach of a ride from Mark Zahra.
He was eased up over the final stages, and off that, will relish getting out to 2400m after rattling off some slick times between the 400-200m mark.
After running on for second in this same race last year only narrowly behind Durston, Zahra simply needs to keep him close enough in the run to make amends.
2. Without A Fight (7)
The Freedman-trained Without A Fight presents fitter for a run in the Underwood Stakes first-up.
The Irish raider was in the wrong part of the track rounding the turn, shifting away from the fence at the 200m mark to charge the line strongly for sixth beaten 2.2 lengths by Alligator Blood.
There’s no doubt the seven-year-old by Teofilo was in need of the run, but he still showed what he’s capable of when clocking the fifth-fastest final 200m split of the meeting.
Nominated for the Melbourne Cup, this trip might still be short of his best, but after winning a Stakes race over a similar journey earlier in his career, and the Q22 over slightly shorter at Eagle Farm back in June, he should prove very hard to hold out.
3. Breakup (5)
Japanese stayer Breakup is making his first start in Australia for trainer Tatsuya Yoshioka.
The talented import by Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Novellist has put together five wins from 21 starts, the most notable being the Group 2 Republica Argentina last November in Tokyo.
The six-year-old entire hasn’t been seen since finishing toward the tail in the Group 1 Takarazuka Kine earlier in June, a run worth forgiving after struggling from a wide gate.
How he handles race day is the big key to his chances, but he appears in safe hands under Damian Lane, who won this race in 2019 with fellow Japanese import Mer De Glace.
4. Montefilia (9)
Montefilia is lining up for the second year in a row after being denied by just over a length to Durston.
Chris Waller’s mare has been frustating to follow at times this prep, but she did break through for a well-deserved win at Rosehill a couple of weeks ago, reeling in Hoo Ya Mal to take out the Hill Stakes with a big run off the speed.
Her last two efforts at the top level have left plenty to be desired, but she does warrant respect after placing over 2400m in the Tancred Stakes earlier in the autumn.
5. Francesco Guardi (15)
Francesco Guardi is making his Caulfield debut coming off a run for seventh in the Turnbull.
A slow start cost him that day and this rise in trip does look questionable with most of his wins coming over shorter.
Unplaced in two starts at the top level, this looks too tough.
6. West Wind Blows (2)
West Wind Blows also comes out of the Underwood where he tried hard on the speed.
The impressive Irish stayer stuck on well throughout, finding something extra when the pressure came late to finish a clear second to Gold Trip.
That was his first start down under, so there’s still huge scope for improvement ahead of the race he’s been set for.
The son of Teofilo notably finished third behind three-time Group 1 winner Paddington in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, and with plenty of early speed expected, it’s no surprise to find him on the top line of betting.
7. Nonconformist (19) – SCRATCHED
Runner-up two years ago in the same race to Incentivise, Nonconformist prepares for his fourth start of the spring coming off a clear fourth to Alligator Blood in the Caulfield Stakes.
Grahame Begg’s seven-year-old tired into the final turn, but he did respond with a bit of a kick over the final 100m to finish six lengths off.
The son of Rebel Raider was the distant runner-up to Without A Fight in The Q22 in Brisbane earlier in the year, and while he’ll appreciate getting out to 2400m at this stage of his prep, recent form suggests this is a bit beyond him.
8. Soulcombe (6)
Soulcombe is starting to put it all together now for champion trainer Chris Waller.
The Frankel gelding was well-supported in the Underwood, hugging the rail in transit before shifting into top gear at the 300m mark where he put up a challenge to run third behind Gold Trip and West Wind Blows.
This lightly-raced five-year-old was only 1.4 lengths off Alligator Blood the start prior in the Underwood, form that speaks for itself with the impressive Waterhouse and Bott gelding going on to win the Caulfield Stakes last week.
He continues to improve with racing, and all reports from the stable suggest he’s ready to fire after working alongside Montefilia during the week.
With a win to his name over this trip at Royal Ascot earlier in the year, everything sets up beautifully for Waller to claim his third Caulfield Cup in the last four years.
9. Duke De Sessa (14)
Dual Group 3 winner Duke De Sessa was unbeaten in two starts over 2400m over in Ireland, making him one of the more intriguing runners at a price on Saturday.
The Maher and Eustace-trained import has mixed his form since arriving down under, finding good support on debut in the Doncaster when beaten 3.4 lengths by Mr Brightside.
He was the victim of a wide gate a couple of weeks ago in the Turnbull, but I thought he finished okay in the run home after giving away a start.
This stable has a knack for getting their imports to peak at the right time, so a win certainly wouldn’t shock at knockout odds.
10. Hoo Ya Mal (8)
Hoo Ya Mal has spent time racing in Sydney to mixed results.
He hasn’t won since arriving in Australia in time for the spring last year, but he did run a huge race for second behind Montefilia a couple of weeks ago in the Hill Stakes at Rosehill.
The British stayer led for most of the way before being gunned down in his final few strides, an encouraging performance as he gets out over further.
This is a rise in class, but with a runner-up effort over 2400m in last year’s Epsom Derby to his name, a place isn’t out of the question.
11. Right You Are (13)
Right You Are ran well in the Underwood last month, beaten 2.15 lengths fifth behind Alligator Blood.
He was entitled to finish down the straight in the Turnbull a fortnight later from a sticky draw, and unfortunately, he’s come up with another awkward gate on Saturday.
The son of So You Think punched his ticket to the big race with a win in the Mornington Cup earlier in April, capping off a strong 12 months of racing that featured five consecutive wins across the summer.
This is tougher, but he’ll see out 2400m in his stride and maybe run a cheeky race if Michael Dee can find cover.
12. Emissary (4)
Emissary hasn’t won a race since claiming the Geelong Cup almost a year ago.
He went on to run a huge race at odds to finish runner-up to Gold Trip in the Melbourne Cup, but things haven’t quite gone to plan for Michael Moroney’s import so far this spring.
The son of Kingman was 3.5 lengths off Soulcombe in the Heatherlie to kick things off, and safely held in the Turnbull where he was one of the last to greet the judge. Tough to have.
13. Goldman (18)
Kiwi import Goldman is making his first start at Group 1 level coming off a run in The Bart Cummings.
The Waterhouse and Bott five-year-old failed to fire finishing six lengths off, and as the market price suggests, this stiff rise in class might be a bit beyond him.
14. Okita Souhi (12)
Okita Soushi is another intriguing Irish import on debut for Joseph O’Brien.
The Galileo entire is the first foal out of 2014 Thousand Guineas winner Amicus, a mare that also went on to run fourth in the Coolmore the very next year.
This promising six-year-old put the writing on the wall winning his maiden on debut over a similar trip, going on to run second in a Stakes race not long after.
His wins have been spaced, but he again showed his potential at Royal Ascot earlier this year with a narrow win in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes.
Kept fresh for the run with 2008 winnning jockey Kerrin McEvoy aboard, don’t underestimate this boy’s chances.
15. Fame (16)
Fame is a lightly-raced gelding for trainer Peter Moody that looks to be outclassed here.
He’s finished off okay in both runs back this prep at Flemington and Sandown, but looks to have an uphill battle ahead from a very tough gate.
16. Bois D’Argent (3)
Bois A’Argent was half a length off Benaud in the Wyong Cup a few runs back, but he’s failed to go on with the job in slightly tougher races in Sydney.
He had genuine excuses in The Metropolitan a few weeks ago where he was far from disgraced, and this rise in trip does suit after running a place over the same journey in the Caloundra Cup earlier in the year.
17. Spirit Ridge (10)
Spirit Ridge is as honest as they come, finding the money in each of his last five starts dating back to the Winter Carnival in Brisbane.
Annabel Neasham’s old boy was the surprise place getter in The Metrop a few weeks ago at Randwick, running a huge race on the speed where he found Just Fine too strong.
This rise in distance won’t worry him, but with little experience at Caulfield, it’s no surprise to find him at big odds.
18. Valiant King (1)
Valiant King is making his Australian debut for Joseph O’Brien.
The British raider was placed in a Group 3 in Ireland over a similar journey but is likely to need the run.
19. United Nations (17)