Yucatan firms as raiders tighten grip on Cup betting
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Yucatan firms as raiders tighten grip on Cup betting

It’s the race that neither Aidan O’Brien nor Godolphin have won – but they now have a stranglehold on the Melbourne Cup with the former’s Yucatan firming as favourite and Godolphin’s Best Solution tightening in the market after his Caulfield Cup win.

Yucatan, the sensationally easy winner of the Herbert Power, dodged the Caulfield Cup, but shortened in the betting for the $7 million Flemington showpiece and is now $7 with Sportsbet.

All smiles:  James McDonald returns after winning the Herbert Power Stakes on Yucatan, favourite for the Melbourne Cup.

All smiles: James McDonald returns after winning the Herbert Power Stakes on Yucatan, favourite for the Melbourne Cup.Credit:AAP

And Best Solution, who showed tremendous bravery to just see off Homesman in the Caulfield Cup, has tightened into $13.

But his jockey, Pat Cosgrave, paid the penalty for an aggressive ride by copping an 11-meeting suspension for causing interference at the 1800-metre mark of the cup as he brought Best Solution to the inside from his wide barrier. It was a move that paid dividends, as he got the perfect trail into the race.

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Cosgrave will start his suspension immediately and will return on October 30, meaning he will be clear to ride Best Solution in the Melbourne Cup. But he will miss the ride on sprinter Fleet Review for O’Brien in the group 1 Manikato Stakes at The Valley on Friday night.

Focus now will be on Racing Victoria handicapper Greg Carpenter, who will decide tomorrow on a Melbourne Cup penalty for Best Solution. The horse has 57.5 kilos – the same weight he carried to victory in the cup. Magic Circle, the horse on the second line of Melbourne Cup betting, has yet to be seen in Australia. Ian Williams’ galloper was on the last shipment of Europeans to arrive at Werribee and has been given an easy season in Europe specifically to have him fresh for the Cup.

Pat Cosgrave shares a smile as he crosses the line on Best Solution.

Pat Cosgrave shares a smile as he crosses the line on Best Solution.Credit:AAP

He is an $11 chance in a market dominated by internationally trained horses.
Of the first 15 in the market, 13 are trained overseas. Only James Cumming’s ex-French import Avilius and Chris Waller’s Youngstar, who ran on well in the Caulfield Cup to finish seventh, are Australian-trained gallopers in the first 15.

Most of the Caulfield Cup principals can be expected to go on to Flemington, with Team Williams rueing their ill luck in the 2400-metre handicap.

The Cliffsofmoher was running on in third place at the end of the Caulfield Cup while The Taj Mahal, who had made a bold mid-race move, stayed on for fifth.

Homesman, who had been backed from $12 to $9.50, was just touched off in a photo finish by Best Solution.

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The Cup’s winningest owner, Lloyd Williams, is in a strong position to make it three wins in a row on the first Tuesday in November.

He scored with Almandin in 2016 and Rekindling last year and, as well as his Caulfield Cup runners and Yucatan he can also call on Latrobe, the Irish Derby winner, who has also arrived in Australia. The latter is trained by Joseph O’Brien, who also prepared Rekindling.

In Sportsbet markets for the Cup, The Cliffsofmoher has drifted slightly to $15, while Youngstar has drifted out to $26. Duretto, who fan fourth in the Caulfield Cup, has shortened to $15 from $26. Ace High and Chestnut Coat have been pushed out to $51 and $41 after unplaced runs.

Racing writer for The Sydney Morning Herald

Peter Ryan joined The Age in 2017 having covered AFL as a senior reporter with AFL Media.