Humidor tops weights as Weir, O'Brien, Godolphin all gear up for Cups

Darren Weir's high-class galloper Humidor has been allocated top weight in the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups, although the chance of the six-year-old taking his place in the field for the Flemington classic is limited.

Humidor aside, international contenders dominate the higher weights, emphasising how difficult it will be for the locals to make their presence felt once again. Horses trained in England, Ireland, Japan and Germany all figure among the top 10 in the handicap.

Three-time group 1 winner Humidor, who was a well-beaten 19th behind Rekindling last year, has been asked to shoulder 58 kilograms in this year's Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, half a kilo more than the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained and Godolphin-owned Best Solution (57.5).

Humidor is unlikely to run in the Melbourne Cup.

Photo: Christine Ansorge

Aidan O'Brien's well-travelled Lancaster Bomber is only entered in the Melbourne Cup, and he has 57 in that, making him third in the original handicap.

The Weir yard also has the reigning Cups favourite Kings Will Dream, and the latter has been given a tempting weight of 53 in both the 2400-metre Caulfield race and the 3200-metre Flemington spectacular.

Torcedor, recently bought by Australian Bloodstock and transferred from Jessica Harrington's Irish stable to the German yard of Andreas Wohler ( successful in 2014 with Protectionist) has 57 in both Cups.

He is rated just ahead of the the classy Aidan O'Brien contender Cliffs of Moher (56.5), runner-up in the 2017 Epsom Derby, and the next-highest Australian runner, Chris Waller's Comin' Through, last season's Doomben Cup winner who made an impressive reappearance when scoring in the Tramway Handicap at Randwick when resuming from a short spell.

Humidor ran down the track in the Cup last year following a tremendous effort in the Cox Plate where he ran Winx to a head. Before that he had been an unlucky fifth in the Caulfield Cup.

Weir was digesting the ramifications of the handicaps on Tuesday afternoon, but said that Humidor's participation in the Flemington test was a long shot.

''I haven't been able to have a good look yet, but the Melbourne Cup is not likely to be his go.''

The Caulfield Cup might look a tempting target, however, given how well Humidor has gone already this spring. He took out the group 1 Memsie Stakes over 1400 metres at the track on September 1 and is due to contest the group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes - a race he won last year - at Flemington this Saturday.

Statistics alone would suggest that the Melbourne Cup is a tall order for him: no original topweight has won the race since Comic Court in 1950 (although not all have run) and only one horse has carried 58 kilograms or more in the last 40 years and taken the prize: the great Makybe Diva.

One who looks certain to take his place and will likely carry the number one saddlecloth in Humidor's absence is bin Suroor's Best Solution. His trainer has come close to winning the Cup three times with runners-up Central Park, Give The Slip and Crime Scene and is optimistic that the last-time-out winner of a German group 1 can go one better.

Greg Carpenter, the man who frames the weights for the Cup, points out that setting the scales this year was a more complex task than most because of the absence of some key runners.

Neither last year's winner Melbourne Rekindling nor Johannes Vermeer, third in the Caulfield Cup and second in the Melbourne Cup, were among the entries to provide a benchmark. Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time has also gone amiss.

And the leading stayers from Europe - John Gosden's Stradivarius, the French-trained Vazirabad and Aidan O'Brien's Order of St George, the original top weight for the last three Cups - were not entered either.

This means that some horses have been given higher weights than their connections might otherwise have expected.

Carpenter insists that this doesn't mean there is a drop in standard in the race as so often these highly weighted European gallopers don't turn up anyway.

''Despite the absence of what I would call a natural topweight in both races there is tremendous depth and quality among the entries and I suspect that the challenge to gain a start in both Cups will be the toughest in recent years,'' he says.

''At this point it looks as though we can expect a record number of international runners across the carnival, so locally trained horses could face a tough task in ensuring the Cups remain here in Australia.''

But, he pointed out, locally trained gallopers such as Kings Will Dream (53), VRC Derby winner Ace High (55) and impressive Oaks winner Unforgotten (52.5) will all put up a strong fight for the home side.

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