FOR INCENTIVISE, THE ONLY WAY TO WIN THE MELBOURNE CUP IS TO MAKE HISTORY
Caulfield Cup winner Incentivise will have to make history if he is to win the Melbourne Cup after chief handicapper Greg Carpenter imposed a 1.5kg penalty on him for the race, which should make Melbourne Cup betting offers more interesting.
The additional penalty, imposed after his competitors were completely eliminated in the Caulfield Classic over 2400m, means he will have to carry 57kg in Australia’s biggest race.
Only the incomparable Makybe Diva has carried more weight in the last 44 years, pulling 58kgs to the finish line to win her third and final Melbourne Cup back in 2005. The only close success on such a scale was back in 1977 when Gold And Black won for king Bart Cummings, weighing 57kg.
Incentivise, who has now won nine races in a row, including the last three at Group 1 level, has made, as Carpenter put it, “amazing” progress since trying his luck in a maiden race on the Sunshine Coast just over six months ago.
After his victories in the Makybe Diva Stakes, the Turnbull Stakes and the Caulfield Cup, few would disagree with that analysis, and his race weight of 57kg at Flemington still leaves him a pound lighter than the race’s top weight, last year’s winner Twilight Payment.
With a win on the first Tuesday in November, Incentivise would become only the 12th galloper to accomplish the big trophy double. Carpenter acknowledged that the visible evidence of Incentivise’s Caulfield Cup victory under 55.5 kilograms – from the widest fence, with weights off his 17 rivals and on a soft track – might suggest he was a bit generous with his penalty.
But the man who set the weights also had plenty of historical precedent to guide his judgment. He pointed out that since Ethereal’s one-two in 2001, 14 Caulfield Cup winners have attempted to repeat his performance under penalty, and none of them have finished in the top three.
Since Gold And Black’s triumph for Cummings in 1977, 68 horses weighing 57kg or more have competed in the Cup, and only Makybe Diva has managed to win.
Other historical precedents illustrate the task facing Incentivise. The last horse to win the Melbourne Cup at 57 kilos or more was the outstanding champion of the 1950s, Rising Fast, who won both races and also the Cox Plate in 1954.
While some will consider the penalty too light, Carpenter stressed that the purpose of the extra weight was not to deny Incentivise a chance, but to give those he beat at Caulfield the opportunity to get to him, if not beat him.
“Galilee was one of the great champions and carried 56.5kg; Might and Power carried 56kg.”
Carpenter said he spoke with Peter Moody, Incentivise’s trainer, and was pleased with the allowance.
Incentivise has swept aside the best local stayer with contempt. So it will be fascinating to see how he takes on the challenge not only of Twilight Payment, but also Spanish Mission, who has close ties to former European champion Stradivarius, Gold Trip, who finished fourth in last year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and Away He Goes, who finished second to current British stayer star Trueshan in the Goodwood Cup in July.