Melbourne Cup Betting

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Lion Tamer Too Good in Underwood

Despite his 2nd in the AAMI Vase and impressive victory in the Victoria Derby last Spring, there was little mention of Lion Tamer in the pre-race analyses for the Group 1 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday. But now he is the talk of the town and equal Melbourne Cup favourite after winning against his highly fancied rivals.

The New Zealand-trained Lion Tamer took a sit behind Precedence in the front half of the field, then at the 600, jockey Michael Rodd got him going and loomed up in the straight to chase leader Southern Speed. Lion Tamer proved too strong, winning by 1.3 lengths going away. Midas Touch continued his good form from the Makybe Diva Stakes, running in to third place.

Punters gave Lights Of Heaven a second chance after his 5th in the Makybe, starting pre-race favourite, but he again struggled in open company, finishing 5 lengths back in ninth. Other favourite Heart Of Dreams seemed to overrace mid-race, but battled on into sixth, 4 lengths behind the winner.

Lion Tamer's trainer, Michael Baker,  was very pleased with the his horses effort. "We're happy with that run," Baker said. "He'd done plenty of work at home and he ran on well (first up) at Hastings when 1400 was a bit short for him."

He will now likely head to the Turnball Stakes at Flemington on October 2nd, with a shot at the Cox Plate also not ruled out. But his grand final will definitely be the Melbourne Cup.

Another with similar goals, December Draw, showed that he will be a legitimate contender after an equally strong win in the Naturalism Stakes later in the day. Needing the victory to qualify for the Caulfield Cup, the 6 year old gelding just held out Irish stayer At First Sight, and joins Lion Tamer at the top of the cups betting.

Michael Rodd again was the victorious jockey, and was equally impressed by his winning mount.

"There was a bit of a charge early and I elected to come back, mindful we want him to stay", Rodd said. He switched off nicely. He's a quality horse who finished it off nicely."

Trainer Mark Kavanagh said December Draw is likely to go to the Turnball Stakes next month, which will give him another hit out before the Caulfield Cup, without risking an additional weights penalty.  

"I suppose we've got to have one more run beforehand, and we probably need it about two weeks before, so, I'll have a look and find a non-penalty race, maybe the Turnbull," Kavanagh said.