THE 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain has drawn ''the perfect barrier'' for what will be his final race start in Tuesday's Melbourne Cup. Unless he happens to win it.
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Crossing the line by a length and a half, Fiveandahalfstar ran the Derby true to his name.
The favourite for the $6.2 million race drew the middle draw of barrier 12 in the field of 24 at last night's barrier draw where his part-owner Gerry Ryan confirmed the magnificent eight-year-old stallion would finish his career if he was to be beaten.
''It's his last go at the Cup and his last run but Kevin [Bamford, part-owner] came up with the idea that if he was to win, we'd take him to Sandown [Classic] and give everyone a chance to farewell him,'' Ryan said. ''I hope we get to Sandown.''
Americain continued to tumble in the Cup market, as he has done for the past week since it was confirmed that two-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver, who won yesterday's Victoria Derby on outsider Fiveandahalfstar, will ride him for the first time.
When final acceptances were taken yesterday at 4.30pm, there were a record 40 horses remaining in the Melbourne Cup. The Victoria Racing Club committee met briefly but once again announced no changes to the line up with the top 24 horses on the elimination order confirmed as starters.
Sheikh Al Thani, the owner of last year's winner Dunaden said he wasn't worried about his horse's gate 16 but said there were other factors that had him concerned. The horse's trainer, Mikel Delzangles, will fly to Melbourne on Monday after tasting success in the juvenile Breeders Cup at Santa Anita in the US.
''I hope my trainer hasn't used up all my luck in America,'' he said. ''The barrier is OK, 59 kilograms is a worry. We're hoping he can do it again.''
The mystery horse of this year's Melbourne Cup is the third favourite Mount Athos, who firmed in a point to $7 after drawing ideally in barrier eight. Owner Marwan Koukash was delighted. ''We wanted to draw as close to 10 as possible and we are right where we wanted to be,'' he said. ''The horse has travelled well and we have a good barrier, so I can't wait for Tuesday.''
Mark Weld said barrier 11 for Galileo's Choice was ideal and not just because it gave his rider Pat Smullen the option of pressing forward or easing back for a trail. ''We are delighted to be drawn inside Americain,'' the son of trainer Dermot Weld said. ''They are boxed next to each other at Werribee and if you could have chosen where we wanted to draw it would have been next to him in the middle of the field.
''I don't want to put a damper on anyone's day but we would like a bit of rain on Monday, just to make the track perfect for him.''
Red Cadeaux's trainer Ed Dunlop and his jockey Michael Rodd couldn't quite agree that barrier 18 may present a problem for the runner-up of last year.
''My only concerns were drawing either barrier one or 24,'' Dunlop said. ''I am not concerned outside of that.''
But Rodd said he was concerned the wide draw could ruin his chances. ''It's a bit of a kick in the guts to tell you the truth drawing out there,'' he said. ''He's a horse that settles in the second half of the field anyway and he's always very strong late, so we'll just have to wait and see come Tuesday.
''He looks a million dollars and is a bigger horse and a thicker horse than last year, so hopefully that transfers into him going one better this year.''
Another former imported horse snared the final Cup spot when Kelinni finished too well for Bart Cummings' Dare To Dream in the Lexus Stakes. Kelinni takes the bottom weight of just 51 kilograms into Tuesday's Cup after Racing Victoria handicapper Greg Carpenter decided against penalising him for the win.
Glen Boss, who was hoping to ride import Gatewood in the race, was briefly without a Cup ride after that horse ran down the track in the Lexus. But he was quickly snapped up by Kelinni's trainer, Chris Waller.