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.
If Dunaden’s Melbourne Cup penalty has done one thing, it has added another dramatic sub-plot to the great race.
Dunaden won the Melbourne Cup with 54.5kg last year and will carry 59kg this year after being penalised for his Caulfield Cup triumph.
No horse has carried 59kg or more to victory in the 3200m race since Rain Lover won in 1969. While only time will tell whether Dunaden is as good, if he does win he will prove that he is the greatest two miler in the world today.
Dunaden’s run in the Caulfield Cup was nothing short of sensational. The way he was able to sustain over the last 800 metres was exceptional and only the great stayers of the world could have done it, which he is one of.
The race was absolutely accordingly to plan. When you look at his racing pattern, he’s a midfielder with a long, strong finish and that’s exactly what he did to win the Cup, though perhaps he was even better than some people expected.
The first six across the line in the Caulfield Cup can all be pleased where they sit heading into the Melbourne Cup (though Alcopop isn’t nominated). Lights of Heaven, Americain, No Quest for Peace, Zabeelionaire have all got legitimate claims that they’re going to be competitive at Flemington.
There’s another important race this week that will have a say in the Melbourne Cup and that is the Geelong Cup, on Wednesday.
Brigantin from the Andre Fabre yard has come in for a lot of support as has another French raider in Tac De Boistron, along with the English runner Gatewood.
I expect an international victory from the small field and although I’m leaning towards Gatewood, nothing would surprise.