Bookies react as rivals declare Cup favourite Yucatan 'vulnerable'
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Bookies react as rivals declare Cup favourite Yucatan 'vulnerable'

Yucatan is vulnerable in his first try at two miles according to several connections plotting the downfall of the easing Melbourne Cup favourite.

Bookmakers wound out his price just 48 hours before Tuesday's race and Aidan O'Brien's chances of having the shortest priced Melbourne Cup favourite in eight years appeared to be slimming by the day as a number of rivals increasingly cast doubt on whether Yucatan will deliver owner Lloyd Williams a third straight Cup.

Easing favourite: Yucatan.

Easing favourite: Yucatan.Credit:Wayne Ludbey

The son of Melbourne Cup fanatic Williams, Nick Williams, urged Flemington track staff to "turn the taps" to soften the ground as he hinted Yucatan could "put on a real show".

But his price was wound out to $5 with BetEasy on Sunday. He was as short as $4.20 before Nick Williams plucked barrier 23 on Saturday night.

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It has raised hopes the Cup won't be the one-act affair many predicted after Yucatan blitzed his rivals in the Herbert Power Stakes last month, a formline franked when A Prince Of Arran forced his way into the field after winning the Lexus Stakes.

Yucatan has never been tested beyond a mile-and-a-half, which is fuelling enthusiasm amongst the local and European contingent.

"I do [think he's vulnerable]," said trainer Mike Moroney, who will saddle up Vengeur Masque and Sound Check. "He's got to get two miles, hasn't he? Sometimes their second run is worse than their first run over here."

And some were even predicting stablemate The Cliffsofmoher, which finished a fast-closing third in the Caulfield Cup, to beat home Yucatan.

"I suppose for a horse like [Yucatan] that was just awesome when he won the Herbert Power, we all just went away and thought, 'we just saw the [Melbourne Cup] winner'," said Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock principal Darren Dance, who races Scottish contender Nakeeta.

"The only thing I can say is he's drawn 23, he's not tested at two miles, where's he going to be in the run? I don't think many horses win the Melbourne Cup that haven't run over two miles before, but he could be special.

"I think The Cliffsofmoher will be hardest to beat."

I don't think many horses win the Melbourne Cup that haven't run over two miles before, but he could be special

Darren Dance

Melbourne Cup favourites have a poor recent record with Fiorente (2013) the only one to salute since the last of Makybe Diva's three triumphs in 2005.

But it hasn't dented the confidence of the Williams team and O'Brien, the trainer who will also saddle up Rostropovich.

On Yucatan, Nick Williams said: "He's flying. I think he'll run really well. I can't think of a time we've taken a horse in better condition to the races. If he stays in that form for the next two days he'll put on a real show.

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"It's a race we love and it's the best race in the world. Of course it would be fantastic [to win again]."

O'Brien won't be in Melbourne for the race after Breeders' Cup commitments in the United States on the weekend, but has been in regular contact with his travelling foreman TJ Comerford, who has overseen Ballydoyle's team at Werribee.

"It’s very hard to make a plan with a horse to get him into a handicap, but what we find is if you race them honestly and open the whole time, sometimes circumstances can work for you and at the end of the year you're in that nice race at a nice weight naturally," O'Brien told Radio Sport National.

"Everything seems to be going well so it will be very interesting to see with him."