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Melbourne Cup News: Locals believe `chicken kings' hold the secret.

Byline: Alan Byrne

ALTHOUGH he has managed to win only four of his 25 starts, Caulfield Cup fourth Freemason looks likely to be one of the best locally-backed horses in advance of Tuesday's Foster's Melbourne Cup.

On offer at about 10-1 with bookmakers in Melbourne, the four-year-old-owned by Australia's `chicken kings' Jack and Bob Ingham-is already disputing favouritism on the tote in Queensland, while bookmaker Mark Read, of Darwin All-Sports, predicted last night: "All the pros will knock into him before the race."

Multi-millionaire owners and punters Kerry Packer and Lloyd Williams, who have bought Enzeli to run in Tuesday's showpiece event, have also said they plan to back Freemason-although it is possible that they are simply saying that in order to lengthen the odds on their John Oxx-trained horse.

Regardless of whether that high-rolling duo back him, Freemason is sure to prove a popular order-the consensus among locals is that his staying-on fourth in the Caulfield Cup, in which he made strong late headway on the outside, had "Melbourne Cup written all over it".

The Australians tend to view the Caulfield Cup as the best trial for the Melbourne Cup and Freemason's effort there has put the colt on top of many shortlists.

Winner of the Queensland Derby in June, the son of Sinndar's sire Grand Lodge is likely to be given an old-style Australian prep for the Cup by running first in the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.

Should he go on to take the Cup, it is reported that some sizeable double bets will be landed, following on from Diatribe's Caulfield Cup win.

Jockey Larry Cassidy, one of the top riders on the Sydney circuit, but regarded as nowhere near as effective in Melbourne, is sweet on the horse's chances. He says: "He just lacked the kick of acceleration at the finish of the Caulfield Cup, but the Flemington track and the extra distance on Tuesday should really bring out the best in him."

Freemason runs in the plain cerise colours of the Ingham brothers, Australia's biggest owners with more than 200 horses in training plus a huge broodmare band and a number of stallions. Their best horse has been former Australian horse of the year Octagonal, trained, like Freemason and all of their other horses, by leading handler John Hawkes.

The brothers are known as the `chicken kings' because they are Australia's biggest purveyors of poultry and also sell a range of other products. A good run from Freemason on Tuesday would provide the Inghams with a measure of compensation for the loss of the outstanding Unworldly, a three-year-old filly widely expected to be one of the stars of the Melbourne Spring Carnival, who broke a leg on the gallops last month and had to be put down.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Nov 2, 2000
Previous Article:Melbourne Cup News: Harrison jets off for Arctic.
Next Article:Melbourne Cup News: Hall partners Enzeli in first serious work.

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