Racing: Osborne dreaming of Geordieland tipping scales against Yeats

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The Independent Online

Weights and measures came under the microscope yesterday as the men behind the four British and Irish Melbourne Cup contenders assayed their chances in tomorrow morning's 146th running of Australia's most famous contest. Jamie Osborne, trainer of Geor-dieland, adopted the role of boffin, plotting victory for the grey five-year-old with a slide rule.

Geordieland finished behind two of tomorrow's rivals, Yeats in the Goodwood Cup and Glistening in the Ebor Handicap, on his last two runs, and is better off in terms of poundage with both. "We were beaten an eased five lengths at Goodwood," said Osborne. "We get a pull with him and the maths says we can turn it around. We get a pull with Glistening, too, who had a better run through at York. Add into the equation that mine is fitter and better now and its easy to make a case."

Frankie Dettori rode Geordieland at Goodwood but his renewal of the partnership is in the balance, literally. The Italian must get down to his lightest to make his allotted 8st 7lb and Kerrin McEvoy, freed up by the failure of Godolphin candidate Imperial Stride's failure in Saturday's Mackinnon Stakes, is on standby.

Glistening's trainer Luca Cumani, not noticeably unshrewd at placing a handicapper, chose on this occasion to rely on art rather than science. "Osborne is like a greengrocer," he said, "with his pound here and pound there. What you really need in a race like this is luck in running, the right position and rhythm and to follow the right horse."

The Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats, with top-weight of 9st 4lb, is joint-favourite at around 4-1 for the two-mile Flemington showpiece won just twice before by European raiders, Vintage Crop and Media Puzzle. Yeats, Kieren Fallon's first Cup ride, has blossomed since his arrival in Melbourne and impressed in his final blow-out on Saturday. He will race from stall 4, near the inside, with Geordieland (14-1) drawn a more favourable 10, Glistening (40-1) widest of all in 24 and the fourth of the European raiders, 100-1 shot Land 'N Stars, in the six box.

Ex-John Dunlop charge Tawqeet, third in last year's St Leger, is the other market leader, with exciting three-year-old Efficient, who made the cut after winning the Victoria Derby on Saturday, next best at 7-1. The grey is going for a six-timer but none of his age have won since 1941.