The Darren Weir factor is again making a play in a Melbourne Cup.
His import Red Cardinal has been substantially supported by punters, shortening to $34 on cup eve on Monday.
Red Cardinal had been as long as $67 and $81 with betting agencies on Sunday.
Eleventh in last year’s Melbourne Cup before being transferred into Weir’s care, Red Cardinal is the premier trainer’s only starter in the $7m staying test at Flemington on Tuesday after he started out with 27 hopefuls among initial nominations.
Red Cardinal joins Nakeeta as the Ballarat region’s big hopes of following in the hoof marks of Prince of Penzance, which won the 2015 Melbourne Cup for Weir.
Nakeeta is trained Scottish-based Iain Jardine and part-owned by Ballan district-based syndicator Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock, which bought into the stayer after he finished fifth in the Melbourne Cup last year.
Despite his big effort a year ago, Nakeeta is considered a longshot at $101 after drifting.
While considered outsiders, a forecast of up to 15mm of rain for Cup Day would play into the hands of Red Cardinal and Nakeeta.
Red Cardinal’s best run this preparation was a third in the St Leger, 2600m, at Royal Randwick on a bog track.
Of Nakeeta’s chances, ATB principal Darren Dance said the forecast rain was “definitely in our favour”.