A horse’s chances in the Melbourne Cup can live or die at the hands of Mother Nature. In Australia, there are 10 track ratings on a sliding scale. Let’s explain these first.
A fast (1) is as firm a track as you can get in Australia, generally considered to be as hard as bitumen. They are extremely rare these days because of horse welfare issues. The Gawler Cup was run on a fast (1) in late September.
A good (2) and good (3) are next on the scale. A good (2) is obviously not as firm as a fast (1), but it is still firmer than ideal. A good (3) is considered to be the ideal track, as there is a bit of give in the track but it still allows every horse their opportunity.
Next is a dead (4), which has quite a bit of give in it but still allows horses to have firm footing. It is quickly becoming the new good (3), as most meetings start on a dead (4) in the hope the track will dry out and be upgraded by the time a feature race comes around later in the day.
A dead (5) is the start of the downward spiral in terms of the amount of give.
Slow (6) and slow (7) tracks are those which are rain-affected, but to a milder scale. They generally tend to be slippery, and many horses struggle to gain firm footing.
The lowest track ratings are heavy (8), heavy (9) and heavy (10). Heavy tracks are very soft, but unlike soft tracks, they tend to be closer to a bog. Horses may get a firmer footing, but many horses simply won’t pick their feet up in the wet.
As at 10am on Tuesday, the Flemington track was rated a Dead 4, with the Cup expected to be a Good 3.
Melbourne Cup 2013 Weather Forecast, prediction and precipitation
Most horses in the race have proven themselves on good ground at some point, but which horses will be most suited?
Here is our assessment of Melbourne Cup 2013 runners horses based on track condition:
1. Dunaden – He handles all ground, except the wettest of wet tracks – ie a heavy (10) – but given he carries the big weight of 58.5kg, firm ground is probably the preferred option.
2. Green Moon – Looks to perform best on top of the ground and doesn’t want it to be any worse than a dead (5).
3. Red Cadeaux – While his stats on slow going don’t look too bad, they were unimpressive runs despite his placings. Far superior on top of the ground.
4. Sea Moon – Won his maiden at Great Yarmouth – at $1.20 – on a heavy track, while he sailed through slow going to win the Hardwicke Stakes. But two other performances on wet tracks have been poor. Probably best with a little give, but can handle a firm track.
5. Brown Panther – One of his best wins was on a slow track, but his other performances with give in the ground have been terrible. Want a dead (4) or better.
6. Fiorente – Looks to be effective on all surfaces, a major positive for him.
7. Foreteller – Fine on all surfaces, but with the distance query, they’d be hoping for a good track for him.
8. Dandino – All bar two starts have been on good tracks, and it looks as though that would be his preferred surface.
9. Ethiopia – Simply doesn’t go on a wet track. Good or dead track for him.
10. Fawkner – Effective on all ground.
11. Mourayan – I don’t think the ground makes much difference to him, he just tends to mix his form regardless.
12. Seville – Quick ground is the order of the day for Seville, and he’ll be lapping up the likely good (3) track.
13. Super Cool – Untried on anything worse than a Dead (4), but three of his better performances were on a dead track. Would probably like just a little give in the ground, but no real disadvantages on top of the ground.
14. Masked Marvel – Looks to want it firm, but perhaps a Dead (4) would be better for him
15. Mount Athos – Genuine firm tracker who looks likely to get conditions to suit
16. Royal Empire – Pretty much only raced on firm tracks, and appears to thrive on top of the ground
17. Voleuse de Coeurs – If we had a sudden downpour, like 1976 or 2004, then she’d be one to be including in a heartbeat. She won her first ever race in five attempts on good ground in the Irish St Leger, and she blitzed the field, but I think an Australian firm track will find her out.
18. Hawkspur – Effective on all surfaces.
19. Simenon – Likes it firm and I think he’ll be one of the few Irish horses to appreciate Australia’s firm tracks.
20. Ibicenco – Won the Geelong Cup at his first try on a heavy track, but all form before that suggested he was best on top of the ground. Probably a horse who can deal with a bog but doesn’t like it slippery, not that it should matter.
21. Verema – She’s proven to be vastly inferior on wet ground, so the predicted firm conditions should be a treat for her.
22. Dear Demi – Although she ran third on a slow track to It’s A Dundeel and Atlantic Jewel in the Underwood Stakes, I think she’s at her best on top of the ground.
23. Tres Blue – Looks effective on all bar the wettest of tracks.
24. Ruscello – Saturday was his first go at a track worse than Good, and he won. Still a firm tracker, though.