Hitotsu Could Be Set for Japan Instead of Flemington
Despite now leading the advance market for the 2022 Melbourne Cup, Hitotsu may yet be sent to the Japan Cup after taking in the Cox Plate on October 22.
The overseas trip in November would be slightly out of leftfield. Though a potential loss to the Melbourne Cup, it would highlight a change in tactic from Australia’s trainers.
Their best horses may now be campaigned more internationally, with Home Affairs and Nature Strip potentially heading to Royal Ascot in June while Verry Elleegant may yet go to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October.
Stud Value the Main Motivator
Hitotsu’s recent wins have made him a very valuable stud prospect. Wins in the Victoria Derby, Australian Guineas and Australian Derby have raised his stock. Winning the Melbourne Cup then is not essential this year, though organisers will see him as a huge loss.
Perhaps due to the race distance, connections of the colt feel the Cup is not the right way to go. Managing owner Ozzie Kheir and trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace reckon that a whirl at the Cox Plate and then a trip to Japan better suits the horse’s burgeoning reputation at this point.
The fact that Hitotsu is by Japanese stallion Maurice is another factor. The real worry is though, that connections may be thinking of retiring him early. If his stud valley increases enough, the temptation would be there to call it a day and not even head for the 2023 Cup.
Cup Still on the Cards for Now
While Hitotsu’s connections reckon around 2400 metres is ideal, the Cup is still a possibility. If turning up, he’d be taking in the race as well as the Japan Cup rather than instead of it.
It would mean a monstrous training performance from Maher and Eustace. The Cox Plate is held nine days before the Cup. The Japan Cup is 26 days later, but managing all three would be almost unheard of.
The almost guaranteed firm going in Japan will also suit Hitotsu’s style. That is something connections will be keeping firmly in mind.
Market Now in Disarray
The odds for the Melbourne Cup are now in complete confusion. At the top of the TAB market currently are:
9.00 Hitotsu, 11.00 Incentivise, 11.00 Verry Elleegant, 15.00 Duais, 15.00 Spanish Mission, 15.00 Stay Foolish.
The favourite may now not go to the Cup. Incentivise isn’t fit yet after a bad injury and Verry Elleegant would find it hard to double-up and may yet go to Paris instead.
If you are thinking about an advance bet, it seems now is the time to look at those with bigger odds. Spanish Mission and Stay Foolish probably look like great value about now.