Yucatan's Caulfield Swerve Shakes Melbourne Cup Betting

Yucatan's Caulfield Swerve Shakes Melbourne Cup Betting

When Herbert Power Stakes winner Yucatan was taken out of Saturday's Caulfield Cup in a shock move, it caused ripples stretching as far as the Melbourne Cup betting.

Yucatan had been favourite for the Caulfield Cup, after an impressive win in last Saturday's Group 2 Handicap, the Herbert Power, but was ruled out of a quick return to the course just hours after he had been confirmed to run.

The news followed the handing down of a massive 2.5kg penalty for the Melbourne Cup, as a result of his Herbert Power win - and after handicappers revealed there is no longer a penalty exemption clause for any Caulfield Cup winner.

Odds Turmoil

Connections of Yucatan confirmed the four-year-old would be running again this weekend early on Monday, booking jockey Michael Walker to ride.

He was quickly elevated to favourite for the Caulfield Cup, but when Racing Victoria's chief handicapper Greg Carpenter unveiled his Melbourne Cup penalty the price began to drift wildly on betting exchange Betfair.

From $5.50 after the Walker link-up announcement, he was out to $75 by early evening. Late on Monday night what the numbers had been saying came to fruition as owners Team Williams took him out of the race.

Online bookmakers reacted by promoting talented Queensland Oaks winner Youngstar to favourite at no bigger than 5/1, with Kings Will Dream a top price of 6/1 and Yucatan's stablemate The Cliffsofmoher 8/1.

Cup Favourite

Team Williams said that Yucatan had been withdrawn because he was not 100% after his Saturday win on hard ground, but they have assured the colt just needs a week off.

That allayed punters fears of his Flemington preparations being hampered and put a world of confidence behind Yucatan to win the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, November 6.

On Friday, Yucatan was a general 40-1 chance for The Cup, the son of Galileo sitting 55th on the order of entry, for a $7.3million race in which a maximum of 24 can run. He was immediately slashed to no bigger than 12-1 in the Melbourne Cup betting after his win, and has since become the 8-1 favourite.

That move came after the revelation that he was now 24th on the list, and virtually guaranteed a run. However, it might be all hype down to the visually impressive nature of his eased-down win.

Have Caution

When explaining his reasons for applying a 2.5kg penalty to Yucatan for the Melbourne Cup, handicapper Carpenter stressed that it was the biggest handicap ever handed to a Herbert Power winner.

He also said: "Clearly the penalty is not based on the length and a quarter margin. He could clearly have won by a significantly greater margin than he did at the end of the race."

"But it doesn't make him a certainty in either the Caulfield or Melbourne Cup, such is the depth of staying quality. Over 3200 metres, in theory, every half kilo impacts a horse by a length, so 2.5 kilos is a five-length penalty."

Effectively, Yucatan will now start the Melbourne Cup five lengths further back than he began the Herbert Power. Is that enough to stop him? Punters presently say, 'no' - right as former Melbourne Cup favourite Cross Counter suffers a setback

Cross Counter Setback

Fellow European Melbourne Cup raider Cross Counter was already knocked off the top spot by Yucatan, but has now been eased to 12/1 in the betting, after cutting a leg during workouts at the Werribee quarantine centre.

Trainer Charlie Appleby, who on Saturday suffered the death of another Melbourne Cup entry Hamada, described Cross Counter's injury as 'annoying' rather disastrous, prescribing two days box rest.


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