The 2012 Melbourne Cup could be remembered as the strongest ever running of the best race in Australia – which makes backing a winner no easy feat!
Read the preview? Now jump on to the 2012 Melbourne Cup Live blog.
Much like last year, the evenness of the many European import horses means there are numerous winning chances. But there are a handful of Aussies that head to Flemington confident of victory as well.
1. Dunaden (Weight: 59kgs, Barrier: 16, Trainer: Mikel Delzangles, Country: France, Jockey: Craig Williams, Odds: $7)
For: Dunaden, the 2011 Melbourne Cup winner, will defend his crown with an extra 4.5kgs to lug. So is he 4.5kgs better today that what he was last November? Absolutely.
He won an Australian major, the 2012 Caulfield Cup, when underdone at his latest start. He carried a big weight (58kgs) on his back and will improve off that run. He handles all ground, wet and dry, and is quite versatile.
Against: History says the weight. No horse has carried 59kg to victory since Rain Lover went back-to-back with 60.5kgs in 1969. But I’m happy to argue that no horse – since Rain Lover – asked to carry 59 in the Melbourne Cup has been as good as Dunaden (especially in Australia).
I can’t understand why this guy isn’t Melbourne Cup favourite.
2. Americain (58kgs, 12, Alain de Royer Dupre, France, Damien Oliver, $5)
For: Cup favourite Americain is a genuine two-miler and comes to Flemington as the 2010 Melbourne Cup winner. His run in the Caulfield Cup, when closing off strongly in fourth, was among the best Cup trials. Has won four from seven in Victoria. Oliver jumps aboard and he’s in outstanding form.
Against: I’m still not convinced that Americain is going as well as what he was when was a commanding victor in 2010. With that in mind, and considering he’s now an eight-year old, I’m a bit concerned about whether he can carry 58kg to victory. Of those up in the weights I much prefer Dunaden. To win, Americain needs a bit of rain and a track rated Dead (5) or worse (Slow, Heavy).
3. Jakkalberry (55.5kgs, 19, Marco Botti, Italy, Colm O’Donoghue, $35)
For: International Jakkalberry enters the Melbourne Cup with some pretty strong 2012 performances, including a victory in a weak American St Leger (2700m) and a third placing in the Sheema Classic (2400m) behind world leading gallopers Cirrus Des Aigles and St Nicholas Abbey in Dubai. He ran a luckless 13th in the Caulfield Cup.
Against: I’m not sure Jakkalberry is a genuine two miler and I can’t understand how Irish jockey Colm O’Donoghue keeps the ride after his calamitous effort at Caulfield.
If Jakkalberry brings his best form and stays the trip he’s a winning chance but it’s more likely he finishes somewhere between fourth and 12th.
4. Red Cadeaux (55.5kgs, 18, Ed Dunlop, England, Michael Rodd, $9)
For: Red Cadeaux finished second in the Melbourne Cup last year. He can run a pretty strong two miles and likes firm footing. Only a nose separated this guy from Dunaden in 2011 but this time he is weighted 2.5kgs less than his French rival from last year’s photo-finish.
Against: He needs every bit of that 2.5kgs. Dunaden and Red Cadeaux have met twice since Flemington and Dunaden was far superior on both occasions. While Dunaden has improved sharply in 12 months, I’m not sure Red Cadeaux has progressed at all. His late-season English form isn’t up to winning a Melbourne Cup of this strength.
5. Winchester (55.5kgs, 22, John Sadler, Imported Australian, Jamie Mott, $35)
For: He’s going ok at the moment and has plenty of race fitness. I thought he was pretty good in the Caulfield Cup and earned similar marks in Saturday’s Mackinnon.
Against: He’s weighted quite poorly. Meets Dunaden, Lights Of Heaven and Americain at similar weights after being beaten (between three and five lengths) by those gallopers in the Caulfield Cup. I’m not certain he can run two miles.
6. Voila Ici (55kgs, 13, Peter Moody, Imported Australian, Vlad Duric, $101)
For: I fancied this bloke in the Caulfield Cup but he was positively woeful in an 18-length last place finish. None of the on-speed brigade ran well at Caulfield, so perhaps that explains the run. He is a winner over 2800m in Italy.
Against: His Caulfield Cup lead-up in the Turnbull was quite good (hence my support for him last time) but the Turnbull form has turned out to be the worst pointer of the many Group Ones run this spring. I can’t have him.
7. Cavalryman (55kgs, 6, Godolphin Stables, England, Frankie Dettori, $51)
For: Frankie Dettori, the world’s best jockey, and Godolphin, one of the world’s premier horse racing operations, combine for one of the last times after agreeing to split following an 18-year partnership. The Melbourne Cup is one of the few great races Godolphin hasn’t won, so this would be an emotional albeit unlikely victory.
Against: Cavalryman’s recent, European form simply isn’t good enough. He was six lengths behind ($35 Melb Cup chance) Jakkalberry in the Sheema Classic and three lengths behind Lost In The Moment in August’s Lonsdale Cup (3300m) and he couldn’t even get into the field here.
Not much love from me.
8. Mount Athos (54kgs, 8, Luca Cumani, England, Ryan Moore, $8)
For: Roar readers were tipped into this bloke in July.
Mount Athos could explode with 54kgs. The acceleration he produced with 63.5kgs in the Silver Cup (which was when I jumped on this bloke) was something I’ve never seen.
He bashed Brown Panther up at level weights in the Geoffrey Freer (2600m) and Brown Panther and Dunaden finished next to each other in the King George at Ascot a few weeks later, when they were ridden too close.
I don’t think there’s been a better weighted horse in the Melbourne Cup in at least ten years. He should win. Or at least run a place.
Against: There are two things that can beat Mount Athos in the Melbourne Cup. They are rain and a bad ride from Aussie debutant Ryan Moore.
If the track is rated worse than a Dead (5), your ticket can be as good as confetti because he tends to fire on harder tracks. Ryan Moore is a world-class rider but he’s never been to Australia before and wouldn’t be the first European rider to look like an idiot in the Melbourne Cup. It’s definitely a concern.
9. Sanagas (54kgs, 4, Bart Cummings, Imported Australian, Nick Hall, $51)
For: Bart Cummings trains and this guy ran okay in the Caulfield Cup when finishing five lengths back in tenth. In America, he was multiple winner over 2600m.
Against: To win he needs to improve several lengths. Place chance.
10. Ethiopia (54kgs, 14, Pat Carey, Australia!, Rhy McLeod, $21)
For: This four-year old boasts serious talent. No-one knows how good Ethiopia could be. His win in the Australian Derby (2400m) in April was brilliant and his run in the Cox Plate, when they jumped out of trees to back him, was also meritorious. The X-Factor in the race.
Against: He’s having his eighth career start, and in a Melbourne Cup. Not sure how many non-three-year olds have been in the same boat. And he’s fourth up here without getting past 2040m this prep. Does he have enough miles in the legs?
This was a bit of an after-thought from Carey. If he wins, we could be talking about the next champion of Australian racing.
11. Fiorente (54kgs, 2, 53.5kgs, Gai Waterhouse, Imported Australian, James McDonald, $26)
For: His best European form is very good. He destroyed Melb Cup 8/1 chance Red Cadeaux at Newmarket in August and meets the same horse at the same weights here. Second in that race was Joshua Tree who then won the Kergolay containing Brigantin and Shahwardi (who’ve both run well here this spring but failed to get into this race).
He’s a wet tracker so rain brings him into play.
Against: It’s been a rushed prep for Fiorente because he was only purchased by Australian interests in the last few months. Those Joshua Tree numbers took a hit when Gatewood (who had Brigantin and Shahwardi form) was well back on Saturday in the Lexus.
12. Galileo’s Choice (53.5kgs, 11, Dermot Weld, Ireland, Pat Smullen, $19)
For: I think this guy is the best outside overseas chance in the race. He has the profile of a Melbourne Cup winner. Weld has won two Cups (Vintage Crop and Media Puzzle) and I think he’s brought the right horse to Australia again.
Galileo’s Choice has won his last four starts on the flat and he has very good jumps form. Vintage Crop had hurdle form before coming to Australia as well.
In his latest start, in the Ballyroan (2400m), he beat Massiyn who was then a close second in the Irish St Leger (similar to what Red Cadeaux did in 2011). Third in the St Leger was Brown Panther. That form ties in well with Mount Athos and Dunaden, who are both well fancied here.
Against: He needs rain and plenty of it. If the track is rated good, he only run a minor placing but if the going gets into the slow range then he’ll be the horse to beat.
13. Glencadam Gold (53.5kgs, 7, Gai Waterhouse, Imported Australian, Tommy Berry, $35)
For: His form before finishing a minute back in the Caulfield Cup was sound. He beat Saturday’s Lexus winner, Kelinni, by four lengths in Sydney’s Metropolitan and was, at that point, unbeaten in this country.
Against: His stiffest test was at Caulfield and like all those close to the lead he folded badly in the straight. He’s never been past 2400m in his life.
14. Green Moon (53.5kgs, 5, Team Williams, Imported Australian, Brett Prebble, $17)
For: This is easily the most interesting runner in the race. He went to the Cox Plate as favourite but was knocked about in seventh place. He didn’t pull up well and was in doubt for this. He quickly brightened up last week and now he lands in the Melbourne Cup with a massive weight drop.
Against: But he’s never been past 2500m in his life and has never really indicated 3200m suits. As well as that, the Cox Plate form took a dive on Saturday when Caulfield Cup runner-up Alcopop beat Cox Plate winner Ocean Park at level weights in the Mackinnon.
15. Maluckyday (53.5kgs, 9, Team Hawkes, Australia!, Jimmy ‘the Pumper’ Cassidy, $13)
For: Our only hope. Either Maluckyday wins the Melbourne Cup or the winner will have some non-Australasian connection. Well that’s my opinion.
He ran second to Americain in 2010 and now meets the Frenchie one kg better off than he did in 2010. As well as that, this really is the peak period in Maluckyday’s career (as a six-year old), while Americain is in the twilight zone at age eight.
I thought Maluckyday was brilliant in an unsuitable Geelong Cup and he can run a strong 3200m.
Against: He needs rain to win. On hard ground, he’s playing for a place.
I’m not 100 per cent sold on that Geelong Cup form. Prior to that he was beaten by Tanby (who couldn’t make the field here) and was 11th behind Ocean Park at weight-for-age.
16. Mourayan (53.5kgs, 3, Team Williams, Imported Australian, Hugh Bowman, $26)
For: By the length of the Flemington straight, Mourayan is the best roughie in the Melbourne Cup. I thought he’d win last year but was struck out by foot abscess on Cup morning.
But the extra 12 months hasn’t done Mourayan any harm, because we are talking about a late-blooming seven-year old.
I thought he was enormous in the Craven Plate (a race won by Phar Lap three times) a month ago and his run in the Hill prior was very good. That day he beat home Lights Of Heaven, who then was very good when taking third in the Caulfield Cup. He meets Lights Of Heaven 1.5kgs better here.
He has weight-for-age form and a placing (at 20/1) in his only attempt at the marathon journey. Goes well fresh.
Against: He needs a good track. He can win this race on a good track.
17. My Quest For Peace (53.5kgs, 1, Luca Cumani, England, Corey Brown, $21)
For: Luca Cumani reckons this guy is a better chance than Mount Athos. I respect his opinion. They both need a dry surface, so on good ground, with Cumani’s words in mind, he could quinella the race. I thought My Quest For Peace’s run in the Caulfield Cup was sound when fifth and extra distance will suit.
Against: I am not sure however, whether two miles is his go. He’ll run well on fast ground.
18. Niwot (53.5kgs, 15, Team Hawkes, Australia!, Dwayne Dunn, $51)
For: A multiple two-mile winner that was the first Aussie home in this race last year. The Hawkes camp say he’s flying but that’s not indicated by his racetrack performances. He needs it to rain.
Against: It’s unlikely we’ll be racing on heavy ground but, in my opinion, he only comes into play in the Cup if it’s that wet. He just isn’t fast enough to compete with some of these. I think he’ll finish around tenth on a good track.
19. Tac De Boistron (53.5kgs, 21, Mick Kent, Imported Australian, Olivier Deleuze, $35)
For: His French form stacks up nicely through good Spring Carnival performers Shahwardi and Brigantin. He was poor in an unsuitably run Geelong Cup.
Against: Everyone says he needs rain. I’m not as certain as them but seeing as though he was woeful on good ground at Geelong, they could be are right. Only comes into play then on a very wet track.
20. Lights Of Heaven (53kgs, 17, Peter Moody, Australia!, Luke Nolen, $26)
For: Was super in a Caulfield Cup that shapes as the form race for the Melbourne Cup. She holds her form well and she’s flying right now. And unlike so many of her opposition, is effective on both good and slow ground. Must respect.
Against: I don’t think she’s in very well at the weights. When doing the numbers on equivalent weights, if she was a male horse she’d be carrying the equivalent of 55.5kgs – that’s up with the big guns and a worry.
The other concern I have with Lights Of Heaven is the distance. I wasn’t sure she’d run 2400m until she won the Brisbane Cup. And again I’m sceptical.
21. Precedence ( 53kgs, 20, Bart Cummings, Australia!, Blake Shinn, $101)
For: He’s becoming a common fixture in the Cup. This is appearance number three and he’s lucky to be in the field. Finished 11th last year and ninth in 2010.
Against: Not going good enough.
22. Unusual Suspect (53kgs, 23, Mick Kent, Imported Australian, Glyn Schofield, $201)
For: He finished a good ninth in this race last year but was going at least five lengths better back then in 2011.
Against: By that reckoning he’s in contention for a bottom four finish.
23. Zabeelionaire (52kgs, 24, Leon Corstens, Australia!, Craig Newitt, $35)
For: I like this horse. Not in the Melbourne Cup but I think he’s going places. His run in the Mackinnon was sound, as was each of his runs this prep (including sixth in the Caul Cup). He could, with a bit of luck, run top five in the Melbourne Cup. Unseen at two miles but I think he’ll run it out.
Against: It has to be the class. He isn’t very fast and tends to find himself two lengths further back than where a horse of his ability needs to be in order to win. The barrier draw makes it tough.
24. Kelinni (51kgs, 10, Chris Waller, Imported Australian, Glen Boss, $26)
For: Won the Lexus on Saturday strongly. Even though he’s never been to 3200m before, he gives an indication that it could suit. He draws well, has no weight on his back. I’m inclined to think he’ll run okay.
Against: I’ll be first person to tell you Kelinni isn’t good enough to win a Melbourne Cup. I’ve watched him all prep and a few of the horses he’s been meeting (and sometimes losing to) aren’t good enough to run in the 2800m Lavazza on Cup Day. But he brings in winning form and could run in the top six.
My Top Ten
1. Mount Athos
4. Galileo’s Choice
6. My Quest For Peace
7. Lights Of Heaven
Keen to take on: Americain, Red Cadeaux, Green Moon, Ethiopia