Big-talking bookmaker Alan Eskander has dared punters to continue their betting assault on Daffodil for today's $5.5 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) despite a plunge yesterday on the Kiwi raider to win more than $1 million.
Eskander, who took the brunt of the attack at yesterday's annual Call of the Card, boldly declared the mare could not win. He promised to keep betting big prices on her up until the start of the race.
He said the plunge on Daffodil at $17 would take more than $600,000 out of his satchel if she won and gave jockey Chris Munce his second cup after winning on another New Zealander, Jezabeel, in 1998.
Daffodil ran fourth in the Caulfield Cup 17 days ago and is now a $14 chance with TAB Player. But Eskander, who said his agency Betstar would hold more than $1 million on the cup, was adamant in his set against her.
"The good money for her was quite a surprise and she was the best backed today," Eskander said.
"Daffodil represents a bad result for us, one of our worst. Opinions are divided on her. You speak to some people and they're really bullish about her. You speak to a couple of others and they don't think she's got a chance.
"We got away with the potential bloodshed with Profound Beauty last year and maybe we can get away with another one. My take is that Daffodil will not win the Melbourne Cup and I'm happy to bet up and open up the shoulders today. And I'll be doing the same at Flemington tomorrow. Bring them on."
WinBet's Greg Engellenger also said Daffodil was his worst result "by a long way", with a payout of nearly $400,000 if she won. Like Eskander, Engellenger said his next worst result was emerging South Australian stayer Alcopop, who would cost him nearly $200,000 in victory.
Surebet's Stephen McHenry said Viewed, who will attempt to repeat his win last year as well as claiming this year's coveted Caulfield-Melbourne cups double, would be his worst result at about $200,000.
McHenry said Mourilyan, owned by Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov, also would be a significantly bad result at $150,000. He would offer punters healthy odds on Alcopop and Roman Empire to try to balance his book, and believed 2007 Caulfield Cup winner Master O'Reilly could be the one to cause an upset and save him from a big loss.
McHenry said he also was standing champion trainer David Hayes' English import Changingoftheguard for $200,000 but Racing Victoria chief vet Paul O'Callaghan dropped a bombshell last night when he said an examination of the horse yesterday revealed an injury suspicion.
O'Callaghan raised concerns about the horse's action at a trot, prompting stewards to order a further examination of the import this morning before declaring him fit to run. Changingoftheguard had been under a cloud because of a hoof abscess, which burst early last week.
The vet also examined the Bart Cummings-trained favourite Viewed, who received a superficial cut in last Saturday's Mackinnon Stakes, and passed him and stablemate Roman Emperor fit to run.
Bookmaker Tom Waterhouse said his worst result was lightweight mare Allez Wonder. He had laid the mare to lose nearly $300,000 but he expected by today Viewed and Alcopop would cost him $1 million each if they won.
He was prepared to take on any horse in the race except the Mark Kavanagh-trained Shocking, who he believes will win.