Noel Greenhalgh feels like there is a sense of destiny about Finche after drawing barrier four and riding a wave of unprecedented success from trainer Chris Waller into this year’s Melbourne Cup.
Waller had the first two horses out in the Cup barrier draw. Youngstar’s connections drew gate nine before part-owner Greenhalgh stepped forward to the table for Finche.
“It is a lot easier when you are out early because you have no one to blame for taking your cup,” he said. “I did it last year and got 12, so [four] is an improvement.
“It feels like the way the last month has gone for Chris that this is his time, this is his year for the Melbourne Cup.”
Waller broke an Australian record when he won four group 1s on Epsom day at the beginning of October and has since added the second and third richest races in the country with Yes Yes Yes in the The Everest a fortnight ago and Kolding in the Golden Eagle on Saturday.
Waller has been planning for past year to win Australia’s greatest race with Finche and Youngstar.
“I just feel like it is going to happen,” Greenhalgh said. “Chris said to us last year the we will be back with this horse and he will be better.
“He has had year under Chris’s care and there has been a sense, for me, of timing getting to Tuesday.
“I have done my part by drawing four and we have the best Melbourne Cup jockey in Kerrin McEvoy.
“The way Chris is going he seems to get everything perfectly right at the moment and I hope it continues on Tuesday.”
Finche ran fourth virtually straight off the plane from England in last year’s Cup, while Youngstar was sixth, and both have been waiting 12 months to return to two miles.
Waller’s best Melbourne Cup result is third with Who Shot Thebarman in 2014.
Youngstar’s managing owner Arthur Inglis was delighted with gate nine for his mare and believes Waller has her ready to return to her best.
“We just hope the roll continues,” Inglis said. “It has been great to be part of.
“We were always going to come back and she has just started to hit her form again, and we know she runs the two miles.”
Caulfield Cup winner Mer De Glace, which has Damian Lane aboard chasing a callendar grand slam, was made favourite and met with immediate support at $7.50 after drawing gate two.
“We would have preferred a different barrier, a bit wider,” trainer Hisashi Shimizu said.
Constantinople was $8.50 after getting barrier seven, ahead of Finche at $9.50 and last year’s winner Cross Counter at $12 after drawing perfectly in gate five.
The Chosen One came up with the gate no horse has won the Melbourne Cup from: 18.
The trainers of leading local hopes Surprise Baby and Vow And Declare downplayed the importance of the barriers after drawing wide.
Trainer Paul Preusker said Surprise Baby’s gate 20 might prove a blessing in disguise if the inside part of the track is worn due to rain.
The lightly raced galloper booked a start in the race with victory in the group 3 Bart Cummings over 2500m, having proven his credentials over 3200m with a strong win in the Adelaide Cup.
“Hopefully they run it along a bit and barrier 20 won’t be barrier 20,” Preusker said.
Trainer Danny O’Brien said gate 21 for Vow And Declare would be more of a help than a hindrance as it should ensure he avoids trouble early in the race.
“He won’t get pole-axed at the first corner; I’m not at all perturbed,” O’Brien said.
The four-year-old, who has a win over 3000m at group 3 level, vaulted into calculations for the race after an excellent second in the Caulfield Cup behind Mer De Glace.
The trainer rated Vow And Declare in the class of his 2007 Caulfield Cup winner Master O’Reilly, who recorded two fourths from his four starts in the big one at Flemington. – Chris Roots, Sydney Morning Herald.