Simon O'Donnell is a Nine Network sports commentator who played AFL and cricket at the highest level. He also has interests in some of the country's top racehorses and has come agonisingly close to winning the Melbourne Cup.
Rarely has the jostling for position been so important as it will be in the opening stages of this year's Caulfield Cup. With most of the favourites copping wide barriers for the prized 2400m race, the run to the first corner will be critical.
Glencadam Gold was always going to go forward, but after drawing barrier 21 he will really have to get the skates on and probably add 10 percent to his effort to win. Horses on his inside will be doing exactly the same thing, using the barrier to find what think is a prime position. It's not a long run to that first turn at Caulfield and that’s going to create lots of early pressure. I have no doubt that Glencadam Gold can find the front, but whether he can stay there for a mile-and-a-half is his biggest test. His form is impeccable and he’s the rightful favourite, but stepping up to this level in a high pressure event will reveal exactly what’s under the bonnet.
Threats to Glencadam Gold are many and varied. From an international perspective, I think Jakkalberry is one. He's a very talented horse and handles pressure and big fields well. I think he is right in the race, his form leading in is very good against some of the best stayers in the world. If all things are equal he’ll be as hard to beat as the favourite.
Southern Speed, who won the Cup last year, can never be underestimated. She didn't have a good Turnbull Stakes, but mares can do that. You’d be a fool to right her off with her record in this race and how impressive she was last year.
December Draw is rightfully placed in the market at $7.50. Mark Kavanagh has got him spot-on and the only question mark I have is, is he going to run out a strong mile-and-a-half that's required.
Dunaden will make his presence felt, but he'll likely need luck. From the wide gate, I expect he'll probably go back with Americain and that's going to make it difficult for both of them. They'll need the race to open up in the last 400m. But look for them to be closing late and run very good Melbourne Cup trials.
My Quest for Peace has drawn a really nice gate, is very trackable in staying races and depending on pace and where he travels, he's fit enough and well enough to run boldly.
Two days out from the race there's been talk that if the track is not at a certain level then Americain won't run. This has been trotted out by the international trainers and some of their connections ever since they've been coming to Australia. The bottom line is our tracks are very well curated. The ideal surface is one with a little bit of give in it and it will be no different to that on Saturday so I expect a perfect surface for racing and I fully expect Americain to be running.