HEAVY rain has not dampened the confidence of Flemington track manager Liam O’Keeffe, who remains confident that the track will hold up for the race that stops the nation today.
Unless it rains during the race, that is.
There has been a deluge in the Flemington area this morning – which is now being experienced over the east of Melbourne – but it is easing with more downfalls expected between 9am and midday.
Up to 20mm could be expected.
The Bureau of Meteorology said that about 5mm fell within 10 minutes on the racecourse area just after 7am, with some lightning also occurring, with the experts predicting it to be raining when the race is run at 3pm.
There is also a chance of thunderstorms in the morning and afternoon.
The track is currently rated a Good 4, with Flemington track manager Liam O’Keeffe putting 5mm of water onto the track overnight.
“If we can get away with less than 5mm, it shouldn’t have too much of an impact on the track,” O’Keeffe said on Macquarie Sports Radio of this morning’s downpour.
TOM Waterhouse has backed Rostropovich to win $1million in the Melbourne Cup, warning forecast rain might affect the chances of stablemate and favourite Yucatan.
Waterhouse was the most active punter at the traditional call of the card as he steered away from easing favourite Yucatan to back Rostropovich, Cross Counter, A Prince Of Aran, Avilius, Marmelo and Ace High.
The former bookmaker has backed Avilius to win $500,000 and intends to double the bet as Hugh Bowman declared there is only a handful of winning chances in the Cup.
“I there are a lot of horses in the race making up the numbers,” said Bowman, who rides Marmelo.
“I think there are about six winning chances.
“I think my horse is one of them.”
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Damien Oliver, who partners Red Cardinal, said Yucatan was deserving favourite despite drifting from $4.20 to $6 with TAB.
“You just can’t go past his last start,” Oliver, a triple Cup-winner, said.
“It was an extraordinary win. He’d be the one I’d like to be riding if I wasn’t on the horse I am.”
Waterhouse predicts rain could seal Yucatan’s Flemington fate.
“I like the favourite but I think it will be odds tomorrow,” he said. “That (Herbert Power Stakes) run was so good. Everyone saw it.
“But if we get a stack of rain, I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts at $7. If it’s dead to good, it’s probably around the right price around $6.50.
“If it rains, Magic Circle ($8) could start around equal favourite.
“I think it’s a wide betting race.”
Waterhouse partially agrees with Lloyd Williams’ summary of the main chances.
The six-time Cup-winning owner believes there are four principal chances – Yucatan, The Cliffsofmoher, Avilius and Marmelo.
Apart from owning Yucatan, he also has shares in Rostropovich, who Waterhouse thinks can run a great race.
“Avilius has a great chance, I like the Cox Plate form, I like Rostropovich as well,” Waterhouse said.
“I’m going to keep on backing Avilius to try and win a million.
“It’s a hard race and you have to look beyond the obvious formlines.”
Jim Crowley, who rides Muntahaa, is wary of Magic Circle.
“I saw Magic Circle at Werribee the other day and he looks particularly well,” he said.
“He’s got a great mind. A bomb could go off and he wouldn’t look up.
“He could be the one I think.”
Pat Cosgrave said Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution had the “perfect draw” from barrier six.
“He’s top weight for a reason and I’m really happy with him,” he said.
“I think he’s a big player in the race.”
The last horse to complete win both major Cups in the same year is Ethereal in 2001.