In the modern history of the Melbourne Cup first it was Vintage Crop ( 1993 ) and then Media Puzzle ( 2002 ) that aroused the interest of leviathan Australian owners and trainers to the European staying horse.
Ever since Makybe Diva's famous treble in this race 2003,2004 and 2005 the race has been largely at the mercy of European shuttlers ( a few staying on ) swinging attention from Kiwi bred staying horses to those coming from the Northern Hemisphere.
We have seen Americain ( 2010 ), Dunaden ( 2011 ), Green Moon ( 2012 ), Protectionist ( 2014 ), Almandin ( 2016 ), Rekindling ( 2017 ), Cross Counter ( 2018 ), Twilight Payment ( 2020 ) and Gold Trip ( 2022 ) putting a stranglehold on the race for mostly European stables.
No surprises then that leading Australian owners and trainers, along with their associated bloodstock agents have turned their attention to sourcing their ultimate stayers, not from New Zealand as had previously been the case, but from Europe and in particular from the United Kingdom where emphasis was being placed on up and running types with already demonstrated staying ability.
One such candidate sourced in 2022 by owner Ozzie Kheir is Soulcombe ( Frankel - Ribbons, by Manduro ) already a Group 3 winner in England when purchased.
Soulcombe had been secured out of the yard of top Newmarket trainer William Haggas ( currently campaigning Dubai Honour and Alcohol Free in Australia and widely touted to be opening a satellite stable in Australia ) as an impressive winner of the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes ( 2600m ).
Placed in the capable hands of leading Australian trainer Chris Waller, Soulcombe debuted at Flemington on 5 November 2022 in the Group 3 Queen's Cup ( also 2600m ) surprising most by coming from last to win effortlessly romping away from his rivals, an effort that had him immediately installed as early favourite for the 2023 Melbourne Cup by local bookies.
Put aside after that impressive victory and playing the patient game, Soulcombe resumed on 4 February 2023 in the Drinkwise Mile ( 1600m ) at Randwick and after dropping out early he ran on only fairly, if appearing somewhat one-paced, finishing unplaced ( sixth ) some four and a quarter lengths from winner hot favourite Banju ( Benfica ).
Another start in Sydney this time over 2000m also saw Soulcombe perform without flattering prompting his connections to be dismissive of his attempts at the shorter distances and stipulating that distances of 2400m and 2600m were his forte.
His most recent start was in the Roy Higgins Quality ( 2600m ) back left-handed on the much roomier Flemington track seeing him much more comfortable and returning to his old self when idling along at the rear of the field and then mowing down runner after runner down the long Flemington home straight catching all except tearaway NZ bred winner Goldman ( Verdi ) by an ever decreasing two and three-quarter lengths much to the chagrin of his connections who were hoping that race would be Soulcombe's ticket to automatic entry into the 2023 Melbourne Cup field of starters.
Not to be deterred, Soulcombe will get 5 further opportunities to acquire automatic entry into the 2023 Melbourne Cup field and it would be a wise punter who bets against him making the field via this means of entry between now and the first Tuesday in November.
Current plans are for a let-up now for Soulcombe in order to bring him back firing on all cylinders for the Spring.
Let us now have a look at the pedigree of Soulcombe and his Tesiopower Dosage Indicators to shed further light on whether we think he is a good chance of winning the 2023 Melbourne Cup.
Pedigree Profile for Soulcombe:
We see a number of key features in Soulcombe's pedigree pointing towards his ability to stay a testing 3200 metres.
He is by the undefeated Frankel ( a son of ultimate stamina sire Galileo ) and out of the mare Ribbons, by Manduro ( a son of another great stamina influence in German sire Monsun ).
Monsun has already produced two recent Melbourne Cup victors in his sons Protectionist and Fiorente.
Soulcombe also holds the full "Special pattern" at 5x6 in his bloodlines through the great bluehen's daughter Fairy Bridge ( as found behind Sadler's Wells in Frankel ) and son Nureyev ( found behind Soviet Star, the granddamsire of Ribbons ).
This pattern is to be found in many well-performed Stakes winners especially over ground.
Soulcombe's 5th through to his 7th generation are chock full of male ancestors associated with stamina attributes.
To make these more likely influential most are to be found in desirable sex-balance in the generational levels ( 5th to 7th ) that are known for stamina consolidation in a pedigree.
Let us detail a few of these.
Perhaps the most likely influential for Soulcombe is his resultant 7x7 reverse-sex cross balance to Persian Gulf which provides him with not only a favourable breeding core but also a likely potential "engine room".
Persian Gulf ( Bahram - Double Life ) was a half-brother to Precipitation.
He was a slow maturing horse not racing until 3 years old and not winning in his Classic season despite finishing 4th in both the Derby and the St Leger.
But at 4 Persian Gulf was to come good becoming arguably the best horse in the United Kingdom winning 4 of his 5 starts including the prestigious Coronation Cup ( 2400m ), injury ( a fractured cannon bone ) terminating his racing career less than a month later, his 9 starts included 4 wins and 2 seconds as well as those two 4ths.
His dam Double Life was a top class racemare who also excelled in the breeding barn going on to become the female line ancestress of the likes of Meld, Charlottown, Kalaglow, Ramonti and Shahtoush as well as being the dam of Precipitation ( Hurry On ).
Other influential male ancestors to be found in favourable sex-balance include the likes of Acropolis via son Espresso ( Frankel ) and daughter Mariapolis ( Ribbons ),Vandale via son Herbager ( Frankel ) and daughter Marie D'Anjou ( Ribbons ), Birkhahn via son Literat ( Ribbons ) and daughter Almyra ( Frankel ) and the large heart foundation sire Princequillo via son Round Table ( Ribbons ) and daughter Rose Bower ( Frankel ).
Each of these sex-balances occur at 7x7 in Soulcombe's pedigree and are desirably cross-duplicated ( provided equally by each parent ).
Another stamina oriented male forebear in Crepello also presides in Soulcombe's bloodlines in balanced fashion at 7x7 coming through son Busted and daughter Electric Flash with both of these coming through the pedigree of Soulcombe's dam Ribbons.
Being a male horse it is also useful to detect whether Soulcombe has been equipped with what is known in the breeding game as Colt Factors.
These are useful pedigree attributes found in top male horses.
To possess Colt Factors we merely have to look for the presnce of a superior male ancestor through both a son and a daughter.
In the ideal world these are preferred at the highly influential 4th or 5th generational levels but slightly beyond these can also be useful especially if running in consecutive generations.
Whilst Soulcombe does possess Colt Factors the closest these can be found are at 6x7 to Raise A Native ( a leading son of Native Dancer ) through his famed son Mr Prospector and daughter Where You Lead ( granddam of staying influence Rainbow Quest ) both to be found in Soulcombe's sire Frankel.
Tesiopower Dosage Index Indicators:
Whilst aptitude indicators have long been held as controversial in many quarters we have found them to be a very handy tool and mostly reliable as an indicator of a young horse's likely racing aptitude in the 20 or so years we have been working with them.
They are based on the presences of Chefs De Race ( superior racetrack male ancestors ) who are allocated points based on the generation in which they occur in a horse's pedigree bearing in mind that only the subject horse's ( in this case Soulcombe ) first 5-generations are taken into account.
These allocated points for each Chefs De Race are then put into various dominant attribute categories. Some Chefs De Race can have points occur in more than one category relating to their specific distinguishing attributes.
We will now profile the Tesiopower Dosage Indexes that apply for Soulcombe and briefly comment on what these indicate to us.
Brilliant ( precocity, early comer ) 4.0
Intermediate ( speed, acceleration, turn of foot ) 3.0
Classic ( class inheritance ) 13.0
Solid ( middle distance staying inheritance ) 3.5
Professional ( ultimate staying trip, 3200m ) 0.5
So what does the above tell us about Soulcombe and his chances of successfully grasping the distance of a Melbourne Cup?
His profile is typical of a staying ( stamina ) horse.
Not really a precocious type and with a very modest dosage of speed inheritance this is indicating a horse that would most likely appreciate a solid pace ( will there be any "rabbits" this year? ) in a Melbourne Cup especially as his racing style is one of dropping well back early on.
Soulcombe has abundant class inheritance which is a critical category for a Melbourne Cup.
He also possesses a sound Solid category meaning no bother and quite at home at the Classic distance ( 2400m ) and the St Leger distance of 2600m.
His Professional category could have been a shade stronger to provide full confidence at 3200m.
Whilst there is no Zabeel presence ( so powerful in this category ) it should not be forgotten that he does hold the close-up presences of both Galileo and Monsun ( each side of his pedigree ) which is a big plus factor in his chances of running out a solid 3200m.
And he has the watchful guidance of 2021 Melbourne Cup winning trainer Chris Waller to also assist him.
Finally, for interest sake more than anything else, we will list the Chefs De Race by category that make up the indicative Aptitude Profile for Soulcombe.
Blushing Groom 0.5, Last Tycoon 1.0, Mr Prospector 0.5, Northern Dancer 2.0
Danehill 2.0, Danzig 1.0
Blushing Groom 0.5, Danehill 2.0, Danzig 1.0, His Majesty 1.0, Last Tycoon 1.0, Mr Prospector 0.5, Northern Dancer 2.0, Nureyev 1.0, Rainbow Quest 1.0, Sadler's Wells 2.0, Surumu 1.0
Rainbow Quest 1.0, Sadler's Wells 2.0, Stage Door Johnny 0.5
Stage Door Johnny 0.5
Given that Soulcombe is the current Melbourne Cup favourite, there will be more than a few interested souls praying for his success come the first Tuesday in November and the above indicies could go a little way towards allaying any fears.
Good luck Soulcombe and we all hope you race according to your handsome good looks!
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