The race that stops a nation, or two?
Lets start by looking at the race from statistical stand point.
Age, the most common winner comes from the 4yo and 5yo horse.
|Three year olds:||23 Wins|
|Four year olds:||44 Wins|
|Five year olds:||44 Wins|
|Six year olds:||33 Wins|
|Seven year olds:||11 Wins|
|Eight year olds:||2 Wins|
Barrier – Current favourite – Yucatan has drawn the visitor barrier way out in 23, will that be the undoing of him? We saw the Caulfield Cup winner come from a similar gate with a supreme ride slotting in one back one wide in what was a deadly slow pace. As you can see from the statistics below wider barriers have had their share of success in the great race.
|Barrier 5||8 Wins|
|Barrier 10||7 Wins|
|Barriers 11, 14 & 17||6 Wins|
|Barriers 1, 4, 6, 8, 19 and 22||5 Wins|
Weight – They say weight stops trains, and whilst Carbine holds the cup record carrying a whopping 65.5kg to victory in 1980, only the great mare Makybe Diva has carried 58kg to victory in the past 30 years
So with all that said, lets take a look at this years runners.
Pat Cosgrave (57.5kg) Saeed Bin Suroor
The deserving top weight, coming off the back of 4 wins on the trot including 3 group one races. Where he carried more than 60kg on 2 occasions. The Caulfield Cup where he was drawn wide and had to work early was a nice win, albeit a hard race to line up the form with the huge midrace slow down and overall pace more than 50 lengths slower than the track record giving the horses worse of midfield no chance. He did everything he needed to get the job done and is well placed to be fighting out the finish here. The concern being he has no winning form beyond the mile and half and a question mark if he can run out a strong 3200m.
2. The Cliffsofmoher (IRE) (9)
(9) Ryan Moore (56.5kg) Aidan O’Brien
He had a lot of admirers coming off his first run in Australia (Caulfield Stakes 2000m; video below, look for Navy colours at the back swinging widest) where he came with a strong run hitting the line hard alongside two of Australia’s best 2000m horses in Humidor and D’Argentino. Backed up by a solid 3rd in the Caulfield Cup. He has form around the favourite, previously beating Yucatan over 2000m. If he improves his racing manners from the Caulfield Cup where he wanted to hang in, he can be very competitive here.
Corey Brown (56kg) Ian Williams
An interesting proposition and a true European stayer in every sense of the phrase, with an even more interesting owner promising to don a lacy G string in celebration WHEN (not if) Magic Circle wins the Cup. Of his last 9 starts, 8 have been over distances of more than 3000m suggesting he will love every stride of the 2 miles at Flemington. He has form in moist conditions and we could get that with rain forecast for the big dance. He’s clocked up some nice wins in his past couple sprinting away for dominant 6-7L victories, including smashing subsequent Lexus states winner Prince Of Arran at Chester and Cup fancy Red Verdon (now scratched) at Sandown. Check out his last run below (Final moments of the race from the 5 min mark)
Yuga Kawada (55.5kg) Yoshito Yahagi
The Japanese runner has been there or there abouts in some top class staying events in the land of the rising sun. Finishing 5th in the group one Tenno Sho Spring (3200m) 3 runs back. While his first run in Australia didn’t draw too much admiration finishing well back in a slow Caulfield Cup, he can be very competitive if he runs up to what he has done at home.
Jim Crowley (55.5kg) John Gosden
Munta ha! We all have a mate that suits the name and if you’re looking at one for the name this could be it. But looking at his form he is a serious contender, hitting the line hard winning by 3.5L last start over 2800m, smashing the clock too. He looked to be cruising and always the winner. Following the same path as previous cup runner up Heartbreak City. He mixes his form and can throw up an average one but if he’s right on the day look for him to be in the finish.
Jordan Childs (55.5kg) Michael Moroney
One of the beaten brigade not suited to the dawdling pace at Caulfield. He posted back to back wins earlier in the European Spring with wins over 2800m and 3200m (Video below of the Group 2 event). A very hard one to line up after the first up run at Caulfield. Whilst you cant knock the wins in Germany he’ll need to go to another level to be competitive with the best in the world.
7. Who Shot Thebarman (NZ) (18)
Ben Melham (55.5kg) Chris Waller
The Rangitikei Ranger, the Wanganui Warrior, the colt hero of NZ racing. A rising 10yo will compete in his 4th Melbourne Cup this year (making that the 2nd equal for most runs in the cup). A fan favourite will be sure to have a few supporters. Traditionally he runs very well here with finishes of 3rd,11th and 5th in previous efforts of the famous race. Note the 11th was very unlucky coping a big squeeze at the 200m. He was impressive in winning the Sydney Cup early this year and whilst winning would be a surprise, expect an honest run and betting around top 10 an top 5 markets look appealing. Relive his Sydney Cup win below, when BGP purchased the winning Saddle Cloth, had this signed by Jockey Blake Shinn and Hall of Fame trainer Chris Waller and auctioned this off to support two of our charities in Men’s Health and Riding for the Disabled. Thanks to the owners for getting involved and supporting us.
Tye Angland (55kg) David Payne
The 2017 VRC derby winner makes the natural progression to the cup as a 4yo. Whilst he hasn’t stepped out beyond the 2500m before he has been set for this has had the miles put in his legs. He was very unlucky not to do the Derby double running second in the ATC Derby. Another factor that may be against him is the forecasted weather, having 6 starts on rain affected going for no placings. He’s hard to have after a poor effort in the Caulfield Cup, running near the front and failing to finish off the race. If he can bounce back to his best he is a chance. Hard to have. So lets watch the Derby win again from last year.
Hugh Bowman (55kg) Hughie Morrison
A big run in last years Caulfield Cup saw him cemented as the Melbourne Cup favourite last year, this year they’ve taken a different tact and decided he may be at his best fresh and that’s precisely what they have done. His runs since last years cup have had a lot of merit (4 starts 2 wins, 2 seconds) and there has been plenty of good comments regarding how he’s been settling in at Werribee. We head back two starts ago seeing him put away the 2800m race with 60kg.
Glyn Schofield (54.5kg) James Cummings
The Godolphin horse has done very little wrong this prep after some strong wins in Sydney, coming across to Melbourne and running impressively again. He showed great ability to stay over the trip with his win in the Bart Cummings 2500m. Whether he gets the full 3200m is the big question. His trainer is the progeny of the great Bart Cummins (Cups Kings) and in a sport where breeding is highly regarded as the key element I think James will have a note or two from his youth on how to win the race. He ran a strong 4th in the cox plate which should have him ready to peak on Tuesday.
James McDonald (54.5kg) Aidan O’Brien
Deserves his favourite status after blitzing them in the Herbert Power Stakes fresh in Australia. Kiwi gun J-Mac to pilot the horse from barrier 23 he will need some luck, looking to slot into the 2 or 3 wide train. The query is if can hold that form and can match the ratings of his peak. He can mix his runs with 2 terrific wins in his past 5 runs as well as finishing last on 2 occasions.
Tommy Berry (54kg) Richard Freedman
He doesn’t look up to the top class stayers in this race, with his best run in recent times being a fast finishing 6th in the Metro over 2400m at Randwick, with his last win coming earlier in the year over 2000m in the High Stakes at Randwick. Needs to lift, one to leave out and rightfully $101
Zac Purton (54kg) Chris Waller
Reports out of Werribee suggest the son of Frankle is one to watch. He is another untried at the trip, he closed nicely in the Geelong cup with 59kg. However that form hasn’t been franked with sub par performances from those who have come out of the race. He is lightly raced which suggests he could improve off the back of that fresh up run in Geelong.
Damien Oliver (54kg) Darren Weir
Darren Weir lost his preferred cups horse Kings Will Dream when he fractured his pelvis during the Cox Plate (thankfully all reports are he is on his way back from what could have been a traffic end). Red Cardinal has been an honest horse but has lacked the big run to look like this years cup winner. He boasts 3 starts over the 2 miles for 2 wins when he put together back to back wins around 18 months ago. We look at his win below in the Belmont Gold Cup over 3200m
(2) Patrick Moloney (54kg) Michael Moroney
The 7yo son of Monson hasn’t had the prep of a Melbourne Cup winner, he should appreciate the step up to 3200m but he is another with a long time between drinks. His last win coming in the Spring of 17 over 2600m in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and looks to be a class below the top ones here.
Mark Zahra (54kg) David & B Hayes & T Dabernig
Whilst he put it all together and took out the Moonee Valley Cup last start, I don’t think that’s the winning form line. He finished near the tail in this race last year (21st) and wasn’t up to the task in the Sydney Cup either. Suggesting he might not quite have the staying ability to see out the full trip. He is in great form and deserves a throw at the stumps. Drawn to get a sweet trip, when the whips are cracking I don’t think he’ll be making ground like some of the others in the field.
17. A Prince Of Arran (GB) (20)
Michael Walker (53kg) Charlie Fellowes
He will have a few admirers after taking out the Lexus Stake (2500m) on Saturday finishing the strongest of the field and securing his spot in the Cup field. His run prior was also solid running a strong third behind Cup favourite Yucatan in the Hebert Power Stakes. Both runs suggesting he’s fit, peaking and ready to roll. He draws quite wide so will be another hopeful of slotting into a position off the speed. Its a tough ask to back up 3 days later after a Lexus and that’s against him with other in years gone by not having a great success race, as well as the fact Magic Circle has comfortably beaten him in the Northern Hemisphere.
Regan Bayliss (53kg) Iain Jardine
Has run poorly this preparation and I would suggest their would have been high hopes in the camp after running home well for 5th in last years race. He finished 13 of 15 in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup with other cup hopefuls looking a lot more appealing off the back of their runs. He has been safely held in all runs this time and I don’t think he is going as well as this time last year. Vision below of 2017 Melbourne Cup run.
19. Sir Charles Road (AUS) (14)
Dwayne Dunn (53kg) Lance O’Sullivan & Andrew Scott
He may come into his own if we get the rain that is predicted with his best form coming on slow going (12 3-3-1). He boasts a third behind Who Shot Thebarman in last preps Sydney Cup and beating Ventura Storm over 2600m at Randwick in April this year. The question is does he have the class to beat this field, I doubt it. But he always gives an honest effort and expect nothing less on Tuesday, one for first 10 markets perhaps.
Damian Lane (53kg) Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman
The Baker/Forsman combo have a cup runner here and whilst his run in the Geelong Cup was poor he ran a slashing 2nd to the Barman in the Sydney Cup. Whether that form is up to the best here, remains to be seen. This prep hasn’t been flash and we can leave this guy out of our selections here. Check out his Sydney Cup run in the Barman’s featured race above. He’s started over $101 in his past 3 runs and deserves that price again, his last win coming in the Avondale Cup back in January and 5th in the Auckland cup (below).
Stephen Baster (52kg) Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott
He has been performing nicely this preparation but may be another light weight hope lacking the class to win a Melbourne cup, look for him to take a leading position drawn right in the middle of the 24 horses he’ll go forward and look to out stay them. If the pace is kind and he gets his way up front, he could surprise and be in the finish.
Craig Williams (51.5kg) Chris Waller
The lone mare in the race, a lightly raced 4yo. She could be exactly what her name suggests a Young Star. She was excellent in the winter carnival in QLD flashing home for 3rd in the Derby and again storming home to win the QLD Oaks against her own sex. Her last 2 runs have both had plenty of merit in races where the pace did not suit her pattern, she came with Winx in the Turnbull stakes and had superb sections. Her run in the Caulfield cup was ordinary to the naked eye but again off a slow pace she ran some great closing sections and with just 51.5 kilos she looks to have every chance to be in the finish, again a small query on the 2 miles, but what we have seen and what the clock says is that she will relish it, she’s also not one to be worried about the ran. Below we feature her Oaks win where she just gets up but was very strong the final furlong.
Kerrin McEvoy (51kg) Charlie Appleby
A very lightly raced 4yo gelding having only 7 starts, having finished 1st 4 times and 2nd twice. He is a genuine contender here, and his light campaign allows him the benefit of carrying the minimum. He wont know himself with 51kg with his previous lightest ride being 57kg, with that being is last run 2nd in the Group 2 Voltiguer Stakes below.
Wayne Lordan (51kg) Aidan O’Brien
Last years runner up trainer Aidan O’Brien is back with a similar path to that they plotted with last years runner up Johannes Vermeer. He’s ran a very close second to the highly fancied Latrobe (scratched from the cup with injury) a few starts back n the Irish Derby but looks to need improvement on what he produced in the Cox Plate. Irish Derby footage below:
Comments: Yucatan screams “I am the winner” after his first run in Australia and on the back of that you have to put him on top. The mare maps well and with more speed predicted here than her past two runs I think she will go very close. Marmelo fresh could be a weapon, if he repeats what he did in the Caulfield Cup fresh last year, he’ll be in the finish. Cross Counter another interesting runner, what I like is the consistency he’s shown in his short career and the fact he’s carrying a sand fly round. If I could have a 5th it would be Magic Circle who’s performed very well over the long trips.
Comments: J Mac to win with Yucatan after an impressive Herbert Power win.
Magic Circle for second after two impressive wins in the UK.
Cross Counter is a lightweight that can finish strongly.
Of the locals – Youngstar who ran second behind Winx in the Turnbull and ran well in the Caulfield Cup.
Gee I hate this race, everyone is an expert after the race and some prick you don’t like always gets the first four.
Anyway, after the Caulfield Cup I took The Cliffsofmoher as I just felt he looked a bit dour and at $16 was worth a tickle.
I usually look to stats for this race and they’ve never helped me find the winner but they usually help rule out a couple.
I never back a horse that hasn’t had a lead up in Aussie first – near impossible to win doing so (so far). I look for a horse weighted in the 54kg to 55kg range. I stay away from the top weight (Best Solution).
Avoid horses that have been in the cup before (Fiorente disproved this).
Tip one then dickhead, right yeah sorry here we go.
The winner will come out of these 3, in order:
(Cosy draw, 5year old gelding carrying 54.5kg, having the legs ticked over in the Cox Plate (Green Moon anyone?)).
A man drawn by the stats, here are some of the things I considered to try and narrow the field down – 18 of the last 20 Melbourne Cup winners have fitted the following profile; Had a run in Australia prior to the race. It was the horses 1st Melbourne Cup or they had finished within 3L of the winner at their last Cup appearance. Their last handicap race they either won or got within 2L of the winner.
Yucatan’s win in the Herbert Power was simply dominant and the form has been franked since. His closing sectionals were outstanding (much like Protectionists in 2014) and has thrived since. The wide draw won’t matter (only will enhance the price) – he ticks all the boxes and I think he will take this year’s Cup, providing sweet redemption for JMac after his time away from the game.
Muntahaa hasn’t had a run in Oz but his Ebor win last start was super impressive and in good time. He is well weighted and has the class to be right up there.
Cross Counter is the up and comer – his form in the UK is strong, including a course record at Goodwood two starts back. Lightly weighted he will give a good account of himself.
Avilius would be a fairytale result for James Cummings, grandson of Melbourne Cup legend Bart. He comes out of the Cox Plate, dropping in weight for this. His lead up runs have been very sound and with the Cummings polish he will be cherry ripe for this.
That’s a wrap from us team, all the best on the day when everyone becomes an expert. Lets hope Barbara from accounts doesn’t collect the (mystery) first 4 and rub it in your face for the next 12 months.