Flemington: Melbourne Cup Day, 6 Nov 2018
The pinnacle of the Australian spring racing season has finally landed. The Melbourne Cup; the race that stops two nations, where a new entry will be entered into the history books and locked away into perpetuity. How will it turn out? Instead of the usual race card, we’ll devote this article entirely on the Cup field, and on every horse.
X1111 1. BEST SOLUTION (6), J: PAT COSGRAVE, W: 57.5 KGS, 13.00
Godolphin trained Best Solution has the best form leading in, and for my money, $13 on the TAB must represent good value. Surely? A good barrier, jockey, form, will appreciate some give in the track if it rains overnight. it will top Flemington off quite nicely after a firm track was dealt up on Saturday. This could be the break-through year for Godolphin, as they are well represented, and have a better chance than most.
33X43 2. THE CLIFFSOFMOHER (9), J: RYAN MOORE, W: 56.5 KGS, 15.00
Apparently, the Irish galloper is doing very well since his run in the Caulfield Cup. For a horse carrying the No2 saddlecloth, it amazes me how the handicapper has targeted him despite only winning 3 of his 17 race starts. Life for a horse can be so unfair! Can her run a solid 3200m? With the world’s best jockey onboard, anything is possible.
0X11X 3. MAGIC CIRCLE (17), J: COREY BROWN, W: 56 KGS, 9.50
Magic Circle is my pick for the Cup. His last two wins were over 3200m and he won them by six lengths. Corey Brown knew early on that this was the horse to connect with, and like Marmelo, Muntaaha and Cross Counter, will go into this race fresh as a daisy. Much like the ill-fated Admire Rahkti did in the 2014 Caulfield Cup. He’ll by my anchor, will he be yours?
250X0 4. CHESTNUT COAT (4), J: YUGA KAWADA, W: 55.5 KGS, 34.00
The Japanese visitor will appreciate a firm track, but it’s still 50/50 as to what the weather will do on Tuesday. I’m not quite convinced of his credentials, but Japanese horses are trained to the minute, and I’m anticipating a run from the back, depending on how he rolls out of his inside alley (#4).
X4341 5. MUNTAHAA (13), J: JIM CROWLEY, W: 55.5 KGS, 11.00
Soon to join the Hayes, Hayes, Dabernig stable at Euroa, this will be the flash grey’s last race for master trainer John Gosden. He’s not quite in the same rarefied air as stablemates Enable, Roaring Lion and Cracksman (now retired), but if he lands the prize, his name will certainly go on the Gosden Honour Roll. A definite chance.
11320 6. SOUND CHECK (16), J: JORDAN CHILDS, W: 55.5 KGS, 34.00
The former German galloper certainly has staying credentials, and recent European form factored around Best Solution. Didn’t feature so much in a strangely run Caulfield Cup, but I’d forgive him on that run. So, he presents as my value tip, so throw some sneaky money on this guy.
X7694 7. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN (18), J: BEN MELHAM, W: 55.5 KGS, 51.00
Ten-year-old gallopers simply do not run around in the Melbourne Cup. But he’s as sound as anything. A proven two-miler in the vein of fellow Kiwi mare Empire Rose; she too like the Barman ran in the Cup four times, winning it once and placing second as well. If the Barman delivers, the drinks will be on his colourful set of owners from New Zealand, plus trainer Chris Waller. He’ll be the talk of Otago for years to come.
02410 8. ACE HIGH (22), J: TYE ANGLAND, W: 55 KGS, 67.00
Last years VRC Derby winner is not the same horse this season. Other than one run in the wet to win the Hill Stakes at Randwick, his other runs have been very average. On form, and a shocking barrier draw, I couldn’t have him. The market thinks so too.
X2112 9. MARMELO (10), J: HUGH BOWMAN, W: 55 KGS, 15.00
Marmelo was the favourite last year, but things didn’t go quite to plan after his tough run in Boom Time’s Caulfield Cup. Hughie Morrison has taken a much more conservative approach with him this time around, and will come into the race with no prep run. Will it make a difference? We’ll know the answer to that on Tuesday.
11114 10. AVILIUS (11), J: GLYN SCHOFIELD, W: 54.5 KGS, 12.00
Avilius was the early favourite for the Cup two months ago. My how things have changed. He’s still in punters thinking I would suggest, but his run in the Bart Cummings was a bit of a gut-buster. Doubts started creeping in about his ability to get the 3200m trip. I still think he’s a definite contender, but he’ll need a few breaks to go his way.
60131 11. YUCATAN (23), J: JAMES MCDONALD, W: 54.5 KGS, 5.50
He’ll probably start favourite, but what will James McDonald do from a wide draw? That is the question. Is he really the class horse that some people think he is, or will his average European form rear its head? I don’t think the Herbert Power field was a standout field, so his victory there might be slightly overstated, no matter how impressive it looked. If he gets up, you’ll be hearing the celebrations all the way on the M79 back to Mt Macedon.
X5266 12. AUVRAY (1), J: TOMMY BERRY, W: 54 KGS, 71.00
The former French galloper should be capable over the 3200m, but he’s not in the best of form, so can’t really be considered a chance.
65513 13. FINCHE (15), J: ZAC PURTON, W: 54 KGS, 26.00
A lightly raced but solid individual, judging by what we saw of him at Geelong the other week. If he can find some racing room on the spacious Flemington track, his name might just be on the periphery of Matt Hill’s commentary come Tuesday.
08030 14. RED CARDINAL (5), J: DAMIEN OLIVER, W: 54 KGS, 61.00
Red Cardinal is only a shadow of his former self, his recent form is nothing to shout home about. What he can do though: is run two miles. Be very respectful of that as they’re all charging home. Damien Oliver knows Flemington and has won this race three times before, so this horse is in capable hands. Not the worst, despite what I’ve just said.
X4059 15. VENGEUR MASQUE (2), J: PATRICK MOLONEY, W: 54 KGS, 61.00
He had a great 2017 but I’m afraid he’s not really in the frame for mine.
79401 16. VENTURA STORM (7), J: MARK ZAHRA, W: 54 KGS, 26.00
He’s been a permanent resident in Australia for a few years now and is finally reaching some critical form. I think some tweaks they’ve made to him (like a throat operation and getting gelded) has made all the difference. Probably not a bonafide hope, but good for the first fours, trifectas etc.
32X31 17. A PRINCE OF ARRAN (20), J: MICHAEL WALKER, W: 53 KGS, 17.00
You always have to respect the winner of the 2500m race on Derby Day, which guarantees a direct entry into the Cup. This horse did not and did it rather well. I doubt the short-back up of three days between runs will be a factor. This horse is as fit as a fiddle, and a genuine chance based on that run. I expect him to come across from a wide draw and sit on the speed.
05770 18. NAKEETA (3), J: REGAN BAYLISS, W: 53 KGS, 71.00
The pride of Scotland returns for a seconds tilt but realistically he’s not in the best of form. Likely to race back, even from a good inside draw, which would be a waste if he’s unable to take advantage of it.
01473 19. SIR CHARLES ROAD (14), J: DWAYNE DUNN, W: 53 KGS, 91.00
The first of the Kiwi stayers. They just don’t make gallopers like these anymore. Despite the win bet price, he’s still an outside prospect for a place. The money will come pouring in from all the ex Pat Kiwis living in Australia. Maybe they should donate a Maori cloak for him if he wins!
X0080 20. ZACADA (24), J: DAMIAN LANE, W: 53 KGS, 126.00
He’s a dour stayer from New Zealand, but realistically he’s not in with a show. The last 100/1 winner was Prince Of Penzance, but then again, even he had form leading into the 2015 Cup, running second in the Moonee Valley Cup. Zacada, unfortunately, has no form. One for the unlucky sweepstake drawers I’d suggest.
0X341 21. RUNAWAY (12), J: STEPHEN BASTER, W: 52 KGS, 34.00
A good front-runner from the Waterhouse/Bott stable. The last decent front-runner to win the Cup was Might And Power back in 1997. Runaway is no M&P but should bowl along in front and make his own luck. From there, anything can happen.
36327 22. YOUNGSTAR (8), J: CRAIG WILLIAMS, W: 51.5 KGS, 16.00
The four-year-old mare is probably the best Aussie chance, but to be honest, I don’t think se’ll figure in the finish. I’d be very surprised if she does. Other than the lightweight, she does have a few crosses ticked against her name which won’t help. She has never run 3200m, her form is not quite where it needs to be, and would prefer a soft track. She might get the latter according to the weather report released on Monday. The last four-year-old mare to win the Cup was back in 2001 when Ethereal took out the prize.
24112 23. CROSS COUNTER (19), J: KERRIN MCEVOY, W: 51 KGS, 9.50
Like Rekindling did last year as a three-year-old born to Northern Hemisphere time, this colt presents a real chance. He has a lightweight, good lead up form and a two-time winning Melbourne Cup jockey onboard, who ditched the ride on Youngstar to ride this guy. The only downside is a wide draw.
22515 24. ROSTROPOVICH (21), J: WAYNE LORDAN, W: 51 KGS, 21.00
Similar to Cross Counter, he was a classics three-year-old last season in the UK and is carrying a featherweight compared to what he’s used to. A big burly brute of a horse, who also has struck a wide barrier. Goes into the exotics.
Magic Circle, Cross Counter, Best Solution
Best Value: Best Solution $13.00, A Prince Of Arran $17.00
Best Roughie: Finche $26.00, Sound Check $34.00