Wide gate unlikely to faze The United States
PUNTERS believe The United States can cap a magnificent week for Melbourne Cup-winning owner Lloyd Williams in Saturday's Group 1 $2 million Emirates Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.
An unlucky fourth in the Group 1 Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on October 29 last start and winner of the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill in the autumn, The United States is holding firm as favourite around the $4 mark.
Second in the betting is French Group 1 winner Vadamos ($4.60), who has champion jockey Damien Oliver in the saddle and comes into the race with plenty of admirers after a gallant fourth behind Winx in her Cox Plate procession.
Oliver, who had to forgo the Cox Plate mount on Vadamos because of a reckless riding suspension, was critical of Mark Zahra's ride on the six-year-old in the Cox Plate after he went too hard early and was left a sitting duck for the swoopers.
While the top two have hardly moved in the betting, there has been money for Godolphin's Caulfield Cup runner-up Scottish ($5.50 in to $4.80), possibly on the strength of comments by connections.
English trainer Charlie Appleby says Scottish has thrived since the Caulfield Cup and will be suited by the 400m drop in distance in the Emirates.
Appleby's assistant, James Ferguson, is also convinced the shorter trip is in Scottish's favour.
"I think it's definitely a good move for him, if you look at his runs at home it looks like (the shorter distance) is what he prefers,” he told racing.com.
"I thought he did very well in the Caulfield Cup but if you pulled him back (in the run) he probably would have done even better.
"It was a tough run and it took a bit out of him but he's now feeling good and is back to where he was.”
Fellow Godolphin runner Hauraki, in the hands of Sydney trainer John O'Shea, is sitting around the $10 mark.
Eighth in the Cox Plate, Hauraki has premier Sydney rider James McDonald in the saddle and will jump from barrier one.
O'Shea was less than happy with the draw.
"There's good speed in the race and hopefully they'll spread out and James can get him off the fence,” he said.
"I would love to have seen him drawn him out a little.”
Scottish and Vadamos have drawn alongside each other in barriers six and seven in the 13-horse field. The United States is in 11 but the wide gate looks irrelevant as he is inclined to get back in the field and there is a long run to the first turn.
The Emirates Stakes was formerly run as the Mackinnon Stakes on day one of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.