Beauty draw a blow -- Smullen
Tomorrow's 150th running of the Melbourne Cup looks likely to be run on safe ground after a wet weekend turned the ground testing there for Saturday's Mackinnon Stakes.
The Bart Cummings-trained 4/7 favourite So You Think recorded his fifth Group One triumph by cruising home an easy winner.
This High Chaparral colt, which has been the subject of intense international interest as a prospective stallion, has hardened again at the head of the market for 'the race that stops a nation' despite a major step up in distance for the €4.2m Flemington showpiece.
Yet to be tested further than 10 furlongs, the four-year-old has been favourably drawn in stall three for the two-mile event. A maximum field of 24 has been declared which includes seven runners from Europe and two Asian-trained hopefuls.
Irish hopes rest with Moyglare Stud's Profound Beauty from the Dermot Weld yard, who remains the solitary European trainer to claim the Cup, having done so initially courtesy of the legendary Vintage Crop in 1993 and again with Media Puzzle eight years ago.
Fifth in the Melbourne highlight two years ago, when the fast surface was no help to the Danehill mare, Profound Beauty has reportedly thrived since her long journey, although the fact that she's been drawn high (stall 22) is hardly of any help to Pat Smullen's repeat bid for glory.
Last year's winner Shocking faces an even stiffer task attempting to double up, having been allocated the 24 berth, whereas Luca Cumani's 2008 runner-up Bauer got drawn in stall two.
In contrast, Cumani's second challenger Manighar, in the hands of local hero Damien Oliver -- Media Puzzle's winning pilot -- is located well away in stall 20.
Nevertheless, according to Smullen, their draw "is obviously not ideal, though not impossible".
"Profound Beauty is a better mare than she was two years ago, but she'll need to be to win," was Smullen's verdict, as Golphin elected to change their riding arrangements by switching Frankie Dettori from Campanologist to Holberg in stall 10.
While mindful that Shocking should not be underestimated, the omens are favourable for the New Zealand-bred So You Think to give his Coolmore-based sire another significant boost by registering a 13th Cup triumph for 82-year-old Cummings.