Fiorente, Verema prove most popular for Cup stakes

Horse trainer Gai Waterhouse looking at Red Dazzler with Harry McAlpine at Eureka Stud. Gai has been visiting horse studs on the Downs.
Horse trainer Gai Waterhouse looking at Red Dazzler with Harry McAlpine at Eureka Stud. Gai has been visiting horse studs on the Downs. Bev Lacey

AFTER punters kept their money in their pockets early, Fiorente and Verema emerged as the best-backed runners at yesterday's traditional Call of the Card in Melbourne.

One punter wagered $50,000 on Fiorente at $7.50, while a succession of smaller bets ensured the Gai Waterhouse-trained runner would start favourite.

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The trainer's son Tom tried to back the horse to win $1m, but was only allowed on to win $100,000, while another punter was also limited to a $100,000 collect after trying to back last year's runner-up to win $400,000.

Waterhouse (pictured) will also saddle up import Tres Blue but there was little interest in the Irish-bred four-year-old at $21.

Verema, a winner of the Prix Kergolay (3000m) in France at her last outing, attracted plenty of support, including one bet of $7500 each-way at $15.

Her French trainer, Alain de Royer Dupre, said he believed the mare was as good as his 2010 winner Americain, but was cautious about drawing barrier three.

"We are only careful because she is a filly with a very long action, and if you have no pace there could a problem," he said.

"She is a similar horse to Americain, but I think the level of competition is going up every year and the competition is very tough."

Other runners to attract the interest of punters included Geelong Cup winner Ibicenco, who shortened into $61 after being backed to win $500,000 at $101.

Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner was backed to win $100,000, while the runner-up in that race, Dandino, and Simenon also found support.

Mount Athos, backed into equal favouritism last week, has drifted out to $11, although he did attract one bet to win $200,000.

Topics:  melbourne cup

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