Finche could prove the pick of European-breds in Caulfield Cup

Yucatan was allocated a 2.5kg penalty for the Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m), securing him a place in the line-up at Flemington and allowing Count Octave (Frankel), who was formerly trained in Britain by Andrew Balding, a guaranteed slot towards the foot of this weekend’s $5 million race.

Although the final line-up will be revealed following the declaration stage today, the Ed Dunlop-trained Red Verdon (Lemon Drop Kid) looks set to get a run with Charlie Appleby’s Emotionless (Shamardal) ruled out on veterinary grounds, while European imports Ventura Storm (Zoffany) and Finche (Frankel) also appear likely to make the cut.

As such, virtually half of the probable field are either trained in Europe or imported from the continent and while the early market suggests the home contingent boast the strongest claims of success, a flurry of European interest seems sure to play a hand in the finish and unravelling the likely pecking order of this group of contenders is an intriguing proposition in itself.

The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Best Solution (Kodiac) heads the weights following his brace of Group 1 successes in Germany this season, the colt seeing the trip out well on both occasions despite his pedigree suggesting 12 furlongs might prove beyond his stamina capabilities. However, a literal interpretation of that form would see him struggle to concede weight to a number of his counterparts further down the order of entry and he doesn’t appeal as being obviously well handicapped.

The Cliffsofmoher (Galileo) always held a lofty reputation on these shores, achieving his best form when finishing runner-up behind stable companion Wings Of Eagles (Pour Moi) in the Derby (Gr 1, 1m4f), but a race record of three wins from 15 starts proved a little underwhelming, albeit in the face of some stiff tasks. He made an encouraging start over an inadequate trip in the Ladbrokes Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) at the weekend, running an eye-catching fourth behind Benbatl (Dubawi), but his resolution in the heat of the battle might leave him susceptible at the business end of proceedings.

After an encouraging first-half of the season, Red Verdon turned in a couple of less conspicuous performances in late summer, hanging in behind Mirage Dancer (Frankel) when finishing second in the Glorious Stakes (Gr 3, 1m4f) at Goodwood, while he didn’t show much zest in the Lonsdale Cup (Gr 2, 2m) at York. Perhaps he isn’t the most straightforward customer either, while Duretto (Manduro) ought to find this test too sharp on the overall balance of his form.

Count Octave posted a wide-margin career best performance in the Lonsdale Cup, achieving a Racing Post Rating of 113 having finished a length and a half in arrears of the exceptional Stradivarius (Sea The Stars), and he appears to carry an attractive racing weight of 54 kilograms judged purely on that effort. However, it remains to be seen if he can replicate the same level of form over this shorter trip, so perhaps the most interesting European angle into the contest is Finche (Frankel), who is set to make his debut for Chris Waller having previously been trained in France by Andre Fabre.

A half-brother to the high-class Byword (Peintre Celebre), he showed the benefit of a 63-day break and return to better ground when comfortably making all in the Prix de Reux (Gr 3, 2400m) at Deauville in August, the form of which has worked out pleasingly enough. Lightly-raced with only eight starts to his name, he is unlikely to lack for tactical speed and he could be just the sort who thrives for the switch to the southern hemisphere, his overall profile hinting that bigger efforts lay within his compass. He is certainly one to keep a close eye on.

Reverse shuttlers represented at blockbuster Tattersalls sale

Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale resulted in a record-breaking turnover across the course of the three-day run last week, with 106,503,000 guineas realised across 391 lots sold, and trade continued apace with the commencement of Book 2 at Park Paddocks yesterday.

Included among the 823 catalogued lots (prior to withdrawals) are a number of interesting offerings by Australian shuttle stallions with Darley resident Sidestep (Exceed And Excel), who has stood the last three northern hemisphere breeding seasons at Haras Du Logis for a fee of €4,000, responsible for a solitary yearling in the shape of Lot 624.

Consigned by Tally-Ho Stud, the colt is out of the Coronado’s Quest (Forty Niner) mare Question, making him a half-brother to the speedy juvenile Clem Fandango (Elzaam), who won the Harry Rosebery Stakes (Listed, 6f) in 2016 for Keith Dalgleish, while his second dam, Royal Shyness (Royal Academy), was also talented and precocious, finishing third in the Cheveley Park Stakes (Gr 1, 6f) at the zenith of her career. The colt was knocked down to Gill Richardson Bloodstock for 32,000gns yesterday.

Fellow Darley resident Epaulette (Commands), who stood for a few of €7,000 at Kildangan Stud this season, has made a steady impact with his first two crops of European runners and he is also responsible for a sole offering courtesy of Lot 1153, a colt consigned by Kildaragh Stud.

He is out of the unraced Diesis (Sharpen Up) mare Indolente, making him a half-brother to a brace of black-type performers in the shape of Expense Claim (Intikhab) and Swift Campaign (Intikhab), while he hails from the further family of Endless Drama (Lope De Vega), who achieved his best form in Australia when running third behind Winx (Street Cry) in the Apollo Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m) for Chris Waller last year.

Also represented by one lot is Vinery Stud shuttler More Than Ready (Southern Halo), who stood for a fee of US $75,000 at WinStar Farm this season having been offered in Australia for $66,000 (inc GST).

Catalogued as Lot 657, the colt is the first foal out winning Iffraaj (Zafonic) mare Rose Et Noir, who is a half-sister to Prix Saint-Alary (Gr 1, 2000m) winner Coquerelle (Zafonic). He is consigned by Haras du Mezeray, who enjoyed a mixed time of things during Book 1, selling a colt by Sea The Stars (Cape Cross) for 900,000 guineas prior to buying back a Frankel (Galileo) filly for 1,150,000. He was knocked down to J B Bloodstock for 55,000gns yesterday.

A colt by Darley resident Hallowed Crown (Street Sense), who spent two seasons shuttling to Kildangan Stud for a fee of €7,000, was knocked down to Blandford Bloodstock/R Hughes for 52,000gns last week and he will once again be responsible for a single yearling in Book 2.

Catalogued as Lot 578 and consigned by Jamie Railton, the colt is a half-brother to the admirable Absolute Blast (Kodiac), who was superbly placed by Archie Watson to finish placed in the Premio Lydia Tesio (Gr 1, 2000m) at Rome last year having earlier won the Magnolia Stakes (Listed, 1m2f) at Kempton, while he hails from the further family of the exceptional Ma Biche (Key To The Kingdom).

Finally, catalogue updates come thick and fast across this sale and there are two interesting developments from an Australian perspective in regards to Lot 717 and Lot 874.

The former is a Footstepsinthesand (Giant’s Causeway) filly consigned by Airlie Stud and is out of the Kalanisi (Doyoun) mare Siniyama, making her a half-sister to Irish import Sikandarabad (Dr Fong), who finished third in The Metropolitan (G1, 2400m) at Randwick late last month, his third outing for the Hayes and Dabernig team.

The latter is a Gutaifan (Darn Angel) filly consigned by Monksland Stakes and she is a half-sister to the aforementioned Best Solution, who will seek to provide another significant update to the page in the Caulfield Cup on Saturday.