The Roar
The Roar


Melbourne Cup 2013: Full preview, detailed analysis, and tips

3rd November, 2013
4827 Reads

It’s here – the race that stops the nation for three minutes on the first Tuesday in November every year. It’s Melbourne Cup time, and I’m guessing if you’ve come to this post, you are wanting to know about the horses that will be lining up today.

This is the sixth Cup for which we’ve written an extensive preview. I know how popular this preview has been, and the 2013 Melbourne Cup is without a doubt the trickiest Cup I’ve analysed.

Looking for 2014 Melbourne Cup:
» Preview and top tips
» Alfred Chan’s individual horse analysis and tips
» Andrew Hawkins ultimate Melbourne Cup preview
» PREDICTION: Signoff to win the Melbourne Cup
» Full field and odds
» Historical form analysis for 2014 Melbourne Cup
» Latest news, field and odds updates

If you really wanted to, I think you could make a case for all 24 runners – even Ibicenco, who won a poor Geelong Cup last start but was in poor form before that.

After hours of consternation, I’ve settled upon my numbers for the 2013 Cup. This year, I’ve also given a predicted finishing position for each runner.

If you’re having a bet on Tuesday – and let’s face it, it’s the Australian way to have a small flutter or at least a go in the sweep on the Melbourne Cup – best of luck, no matter who you choose!

To navigate easily to each runner (for stats, colours and a full assessment of each runner), click on the runner’s name below. You can also get to my analysis of the speed, my summary of the entire race and my selections by clicking below.


1. DUNADEN (1)Dunaden
Nicobar x La Marlia (Kaldounevees), 8yo horse


Bred in: France
Nationality: France/Qatar
Trainer: Mikel Delzangles
Jockey: Jamie Spencer
Weight: 58.5kg
Career stats: 41:10-11-8
Win/Place Percentages: 24%/71%
Last 5 starts: 43228
Distances won at: 1 (3200m), 1 (3100m), 5 (2400m), 1 (2150m), 2 (2100m)
Biggest win: Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), Flemington, 1/11/2011
Summary of his chances: Rough place chance at best, but I’ll be risking.
Predicted finish: 15th

Aiming to become the first winner of two Melbourne Cups in non-consecutive years since Peter Pan in 1932/1934. Makybe Diva won two Melbourne Cups in non-consecutive years, 2003/2005, but given she won the 2004 Cup too, she hardly counts.

He obviously entered last year’s Melbourne Cup as one of the favourites, given his impressive Caulfield Cup win, but 59kg and the muddling tempo proved too much and he finished a distant 14th, beaten around 10 lengths.

He went to Hong Kong to attempt to defend his title, but was slightly one-paced and finished fifth to Red Cadeaux. He hit the line well for fourth in the Sheema Classic and for third in the Prix Ganay, before a well beaten second to the ailing St Nicholas Abbey in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

The form out of his run two starts back looks good, as he finished only a length and a quarter behind runaway King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Novellist, but last start he was poor in the Prix Foy behind Orfevre.

He’s clearly better than that performance, but 58.5kg is a big ask against a field of this calibre. If everything falls into place, he could find himself in the money, but I’d be tempted to look around him.

For instance, I think Red Cadeaux meets him well at the weights on their Hong Kong performance, and I think he has the ability to settle closer too.

Dunaden’s drawn the inside, though, so I’m not quite sure where he’ll end up from there. Jamie Spencer will have to produce an even better ride than he did on Side Glance in the Mackinnon Stakes if he is to win.



2. GREEN MOON (10)Green Moon
Montjeu x Green Noon (Green Tune), 7yo horse

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Robert Hickmott
Jockey: Brett Prebble
Weight: 57.5kg
Career stats: 25:7-3-0
Win/Place Percentages: 28%/40%
Last 5 starts: 44×599
Distances won at: 1 (3200m), 1 (2300m), 1 (2018m), 1 (2012m), 1 (2010m), 1 (2000m), 1 (1600m)
Biggest win: Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), Flemington, 6/11/2012
Summary of his chances: Needs to be going better than last year, and I’m not sure he is. Not for me.
Predicted finish: 18th

Attempting to join Archer, Peter Pan, Rain Lover, Think Big and Makybe Diva as a multiple winner of the Melbourne Cup.

Outside of the Cox Plate failure, he entered last year’s Melbourne Cup in terrific form, finishing second by a nose to Happy Trails in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes before winning the Turnbull Stakes.

Since last year’s Melbourne Cup, he’s had a preparation entirely geared towards peaking in this year’s Melbourne Cup.

In the autumn, he began well, finishing fourth to All Too Hard in the Futurity Stakes, before a lacklustre fourth in the Australian Cup behind Super Cool, Fiveandahalfstar and Tanby.


This spring, he began well with an eye-catching fifth in the Memsie Stakes, and I thought he was good in the Underwood Stakes when it was run at a farcical speed.

That said, he was very disappointing in the Cox Plate. He was just as disappointing last year in the Cox Plate and managed to bounce back, but I think Seville (who finished in front of him) and Masked Marvel (behind him) are better positioned to improve at Flemington.

For me, I need to be convinced that he’s going better this year than last year given the increase in weight. I’m not sure that is the case, so I’ll risk him.


3. RED CADEAUX (23)Red Cadeaux
Cadeaux Genereux x Artisia (Peintre Celebre), 8yo gelding

Bred in: United Kingdom
Nationality: United Kingdom
Trainer: Ed Dunlop
Jockey: Gerald Mosse
Weight: 56.5kg
Career stats: 40:7-10-6
Win/Place Percentages: 18%/58%
Last 5 starts: 89624
Distances won at: 2 (2816m), 1 (2460m), 1 (2430m), 2 (2414m), 1 (2400m)
Biggest win: Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m), Sha Tin, 9/12/2012
Summary of his chances: Ridiculous price, and while the draw makes it tough, will run better than his price suggests.
Predicted finish: 8th

Globetrotter making his third visit to Melbourne.


He was agonisingly defeated by Dunaden in 2011, while he was one of the better runs last year when coming from 18th to finish eighth. He was one of the only backmarkers to make ground, so it was a good effort.

After Melbourne, he went to Tokyo where he finished midfield in the Japan Cup, better than both Jakkalberry and Mount Athos. He then went to Hong Kong, where he won the Hong Kong Vase, with Dunaden and Dandino both left in his wake.

He’s had a busy year, finishing an almighty second to Animal Kingdom in the Dubai World Cup and a cracking third in Japan’s best two mile race, the Tenno Sho (Spring).

I think the Dubai World Cup placing sidetracked the team a little bit, and he was tried over 2000m again for a midfield finish in the Singapore International Cup and a poor third last in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

Stepped up in trip, he finished sixth of eight in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes – a race in which Dunaden finished midfield last year before winning the Caulfield Cup – before running a game second to Royal Empire in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes.

Last start, he finished a disappointing fourth in the Irish St Leger to Voleuse de Coeurs, which appears an aberration. Take out his last run, and I reckon he’s gone as well as ever the last 12 months, especially given he has been running in unsuitable races most of the time. And, as always, he seems to go five to six lengths better away from home.

Ridiculous odds and definitely in with a chance.



4. SEA MOON (7)Sea Moon
Beat Hollow x Eva Luna (Alleged), 6yo horse

Bred in: United Kingdom
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Robert Hickmott
Jockey: Steven Arnold
Weight: 56.5kg
Career stats: 14:6-3-1
Win/Place Percentages: 43%/71%
Last 5 starts: 8×0021
Distances won at: 3 (2414m), 1 (2400m), 1 (2092m), 1 (1611m)
Biggest win: Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m), Caulfield, 12/10/2013
Summary of his chances: Plenty of class and keeps improving with every start in Australia. Big watch.
Predicted finish: 4th

Began his Australian career this spring touted as one of the most impressive imports to race down under. Throughout the course of the spring, plenty have jumped off the bandwagon, but his last two performances have seen a number jump aboard again.

Before he arrived in Australia, he was seen as a rather quirky horse, incredibly talented but with an inability to capitalise at the highest level.

He stamped himself as a horse to follow when he won the Great Voltigeur Stakes by eight lengths – multiple Group 1 winner Al Kazeem was second with his eventual stablemate Seville two lengths away in third. On the back of that, he started favourite in the English St Leger, but he met all sorts of trouble when third to Masked Marvel, and at his next start he finished second to St Nicholas Abbey in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

He had three more starts in England, the most prominent of these a three length demolition of Dunaden and Red Cadeaux in the Hardwicke Stakes.

At his first run here, he was backed into second favouritism in the Makybe Diva Stakes, but he spread-eagled at the start and ended up four lengths behind the second last runner. His 12th, only beaten five lengths, was admirable.

He then ended up in that odd Underwood Stakes, where those at the back simply had no chance.

So he went to the Bart Cummings on Turnbull day, where he was first past the post under 60kg only for the stewards to strip him of the race and award it to Araldo. He backed up a week later, and in an even better performance, showed a nifty turn of foot under 59.5kg to take the Herbert Power Stakes.

He’s improved at every run this campaign, and of all of the Lloyd Williams runners, he’s probably had the ideal preparation.

It remains to be seen if he’ll stay the trip, but if he brings his A-game to Flemington, he’ll run an almighty race.


5. BROWN PANTHER (6)Brown Panther
Shirocco x Treble Heights (Unfuwain), 6yo horse

Bred in: United Kingdom
Nationality: United Kingdom
Trainer: Tom Dascombe
Jockey: Richard Kingscote
Weight: 55kg
Career stats: 17:7-3-1
Win/Place Percentages: 41%/65%
Last 5 starts: 38×115
Distances won at: 1 (3219m), 1 (2474m), 2 (2422m), 1 (2414m), 1 (2396m), 1 (1408m)
Biggest win: Group 2 Goodwood Cup (2m/a3200m), Goodwood, 1/8/2013
Summary of his chances: Will get the perfect run in transit and looks one of the main chances.
Predicted finish: 3rd

Goodwood Cup winner who would be popular even if he was owned by Joe Bloggs, but the big story about Brown Panther is that he is owned by retired English football superstar Michael Owen.

Much of the money Owen earned during his playing days has gone into building a massive operation called Manor House Stables, and for the last three years, the pin-up horse has been Brown Panther.

Bred by Owen, he first came to prominence when he won the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot in 2011 by six lengths in a scintillating performance.

Off the back of that, he started a short priced favourite in the German Derby, but could only manage fifth to Waldpark, who has disappointed here this spring. He finished his three year old days with seconds in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes and the English St Leger.

In 2012, just like Masked Marvel, he disappointed on the whole – although Brown Panther showed glimpses of his true form. He finished 20 lengths last first up in a four horse field in the Ormonde Stakes, before turning that form around completely to win the Pontefract Castle Stakes by seven lengths over two horses very familiar to Australians – Lost In The Moment and Jet Away. He finished an average seventh in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, alongside Dunaden, before placing in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes behind Mount Athos and the Irish St Leger behind Royal Diamond.

This season has been the making of him, though. He again won the Pontefract Castle Stakes, this time by three and a half lengths, before a brilliant performance in securing the Goodwood Cup and putting to bed any doubts about his stamina.

He did have a slight setback which forced him to miss the Irish St Leger, so instead he went to the Foundation Stakes over approximately 2000m. He finished fifth after setting a solid tempo, but I think the step back in trip may actually be to his benefit as he prepares for the Melbourne Cup.

As the days go on, I become more convinced that Brown Panther will get the suck run behind the leaders and prove the one to beat as they enter the straight. He’s in with a real chance, and I think you’ll see him go very close on Tuesday from the good draw.


6. FIORENTE (5)Fiorente
Monsun x Desert Bloom (Pilsudski), 6yo horse

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Gai Waterhouse
Jockey: Damien Oliver
Weight: 55kg
Career stats: 15:3-4-2
Win/Place Percentages: 20%/60%
Last 5 starts: 3×6143
Distances won at: 1 (2414m), 1 (2018m), 1 (1600m)
Biggest win: Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m), Moonee Valley, 14/9/2013
Summary of his chances: Has done everything right, but worried about whether he might be over the top.
Predicted finish: 11th

Last year’s Melbourne Cup placegetter who has done everything right as he attempts to go one better.

He had one run in the autumn, finishing a slashing third to All Too Hard and Rain Affair in the All-Aged Stakes, before he was tipped out.

He returned with a good sixth in the Memsie Stakes behind Atlantic Jewel, before winning the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes. The form out of that race hasn’t been overly strong, but it was a top effort to win in that the amount of ground he made up was sensational.

He then charged home in the Turnbull Stakes for fourth, which saw jockey Nash Rawiller unfairly replaced with Damien Oliver (who ended up missing the Cox Plate anyway due to suspension).

He stuck on remarkably well in the Cox Plate after being ridden upside down, and was game after being wide for the first half of the race.

He does look tough to beat on paper, but I’m worried about the fact he’s had such a long preparation, as well as the fact his last run was rather tough. It doesn’t look long on paper, but he had two trials in late July-early August which were quite solid. Whether he’ll be peaking come Tuesday, I’m not sure.

Also against him is the fact that only four horses have returned the year after finishing second to win the Melbourne Cup – Carbine (second in 1889, won with a whopping 66kg in 1890), The Grafter (1897/1898), Gold and Black (1976/1977) and Empire Rose (1987/1988).

Reports are he is thriving on the amount of work being poured into him, but I still worry that he may be over the top for the Melbourne Cup, and it was such a tough run in the Cox Plate. I also wonder where he’ll get to from the draw – is Oliver assertive out of the gates, or does he restrain?

I guess time will tell, but I’m inclined to risk him. Place chance.


7. FORETELLER (15)Foreteller
Dansili x Prophecy (Warning), 7yo gelding

Bred in: United Kingdom
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Craig Newitt
Weight: 55kg
Career stats: 36:10-4-1
Win/Place Percentages: 28%/42%
Last 5 starts: 81024
Distances won at: 2 (2000m), 3 (1800m), 2 (1600m), 2 (1500m), 1 (1400m)
Biggest win: Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), Flemington, 7/9/2013
Summary of his chances: Love him, but 3200m a shade too far for him.
Predicted finish: 17th

One of my favourite imports, Foreteller has been a super horse in the two and a half years since he’s arrived from France.

I still remember being at Randwick the day he had his first start, in teeming rain, and he flew home for third. He finished midfield twice before winning a restricted race in easy fashion.

Later that year, he came from last to win the Coongy Handicap before running fifth as equal favourite in the Mackinnon Stakes.

Earlier this year, he caused an upset in winning the Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield before breaking his Group 1 maiden in the Ranvet Stakes. He stepped up to 2400m for The BMW and finished an alright fifth to Fiveandahalfstar. He ended that campaign with a second, as favourite, to his stablemate Beaten Up in the Doomben Cup.

This spring, he began with an eye catching eighth in the Warwick Stakes before upsetting Puissance de Lune to record his second Group 1 win in the Makybe Diva Stakes.

He then had a sneaky run in that bizarre Underwood Stakes, when he ran one of the fastest last 200m sectionals, before again recording good sectionals when a distant second in the Caulfield Stakes behind Atlantic Jewel. Last start, of the backmarkers, he was the best run in the Cox Plate, flying home when it was all over.

How does it stack up for a Melbourne Cup, though? I’m not entirely sure, but I do have grave doubts about him at the distance on what I’ve seen.

If he’d run in the Caulfield Cup, I would have had something on him for sure, just to test out his mettle at the 2400m, because class would have taken him a long way. But, sadly, I think the 3200m may prove a bridge too far. Not dismissing entirely, but he’ll go around without my support.


8. DANDINO (4)Dandino
Dansili x Generous Diana (Generous), 7yo horse

Bred in: United Kingdom
Nationality: United Kingdom/Australia
Trainer: Marco Botti
Jockey: Ryan Moore
Weight: 54.5kg
Career stats: 26:8-9-1
Win/Place Percentages: 31%/69%
Last 5 starts: 7×2212
Distances won at: 1 (2716m), 1 (2424m), 3 (2414m), 1 (2066m), 1 (2028m), 1 (1810m)
Biggest win: Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes (1m 4f/a2400m), Newmarket, 30/4/2011
Summary of his chances: Super Caulfield Cup run, but risk at the 3200m.
Predicted finish: 12th

Over the last 20 years, I think you’d be ahead if you backed every horse who savages the line in the Caulfield Cup. And if you were staying true to that guide, you’d be backing Dandino, who came from 15th at the 400m to finish a close up second.

He doesn’t win out of turn, only winning two of his 12 starts in the last two years, but placing on eight of those occasions.

Last year, he finished second to Joshua Tree in the Canadian International, before finishing seventh to Red Cadeaux in the Hong Kong Vase.

Here, he meets Red Cadeaux 2kg better for a three length defeat, and I’m not sure that’s enough to turn the tables.

This season, since his purchase by Darren Dance’s Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock, his campaign has been entirely aimed at Melbourne, although the Caulfield Cup was more of a target than the Melbourne Cup.

He ran well in the Jockey Club Stakes, won by Universal, and the Hardwicke Stakes, won by Thomas Chippendale – that said, this year’s Hardwicke Stakes was lengths inferior to last year’s superb edition.

He then went to Chicago, where he won the American St Leger on the Arlington Million program, before his barnstorming second in the Caulfield Cup.

He’s not without his chances, but I think the 3200m is a query – he’s stepped beyond a mile and a half on three occasions, and has disappointed on all three – and I have my reservations about the Caulfield Cup as the best formline this year.

Not without a chance, especially from barrier 4, but would prefer for the place.


9. ETHIOPIA (14)Ethiopia
Helenus x Shona (Spectrum), 5yo gelding

Bred in: Australia
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Pat Carey
Jockey: Rhys McLeod
Weight: 54.5kg
Career stats: 13:1-1-2
Win/Place Percentages: 8%/31%
Last 5 starts: 0x5004
Distances won at: 1 (2400m)
Biggest win: Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m), Randwick, 14/4/2012
Summary of his chances: Can sneak into the placings if all falls into place.
Predicted finish: 14th

Last year’s Australian Derby winner as a maiden – and to date, it remains his only victory.

Last year, he was one of the fancied runners heading into the Melbourne Cup after finishing fourth in the Cox Plate, only for him to injure himself in the run and finish last.

He had one run in the autumn, a second last in the Doncaster Mile on a heavy track.

He returned with a solid fifth to Foreteller in the Makybe Diva Stakes, but his next two runs were woeful, absolutely dreadful. He was one of only two horses to disappoint in the Underwood Stakes, in that he sat handy but faded to finish last, while he made very little ground in the Caulfield Cup.

He then ran in Saturday’s Lexus Stakes, finishing fourth behind Ruscello in what was clearly the best of the backmarkers in a slowly run race.

I did think he was no hope before the Lexus, but he looks like he’s going to peak for the Melbourne Cup so I’ve changed my mind slightly.

He has a poor winning strike rate so I’m not sure he’s a winning chance, but he can sneak a place if he gets the right run.


10. FAWKNER (8)Fawkner
Reset x Dane Belltar (Danewin), 6yo gelding

Bred in: Australia
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Robert Hickmott
Jockey: Nicholas Hall
Weight: 54.5kg
Career stats: 20:9-3-3
Win/Place Percentages: 45%/75%
Last 5 starts: 3×7531
Distances won at: 1 (2400m), 1 (1800m), 1 (1610m), 3 (1600m), 1 (1410m), 2 (1400m)
Biggest win: Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), Caulfield, 19/10/2013
Summary of his chances: Surely he can’t repeat the dose at 3200m?
Predicted finish: 21st

Caulfield Cup winner who is aiming to become the 12th horse to complete the Caulfield Cup-Melbourne Cup double (the last was Ethereal in 2001).

Until this preparation, he was seen more as a miler – he won the Chatham Stakes, the last race on Derby Day, last year before finishing a nose second behind Cox Plate runner-up Happy Trails in the Emirates Stakes.

In the autumn, he had one run which may catch the eyes of some punters, for he finished third in the William Reid Stakes to Black Caviar at her penultimate start! (As a random fact, he was the second Caulfield Cup winner to place behind the great mare – Southern Speed finished second to her in the 2012 Orr Stakes).

This campaign, he lived up to a good Turnbull Stakes third in winning the feature two weeks ago, which followed an alright preparation in Sydney when he was seventh in the Tramway behind Malavio and fifth in the George Main behind Streama.

He’s building an imposing record – you’d be happy with nine from 20 any day – but there are serious question marks over whether he can stay the distance.

It was the same reason I opposed him in the Caulfield Cup, and although I was wrong on that occasion, I have to stick to my guns. With the distance query, I have to overlook the striking grey.


11. MOURAYAN (19)Mourayan
Alhaarth x Mouramara (Kahyasi), 8yo horse

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Robert Hickmott
Jockey: Brenton Avdulla
Weight: 54.5kg
Career stats: 40:5-8-5
Win/Place Percentages: 12%/44%
Last 5 starts: 841×78
Distances won at: 1 (3200m), 1 (2500m), 1 (2000m), 1 (1810m), 1 (1609m)
Biggest win: Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m), Randwick, 27/4/2013
Summary of his chances: The sixth-stringer of the Macedon Lodge sextet. No.
Predicted finish: 20th

Sydney Cup winner who, I think it is fair to say, is the sixth-stringer for leviathan owner Lloyd Williams.

He has been a great campaigner for the team at Macedon Lodge, and he did run a rather good seventh in last year’s Melbourne Cup.

Heading into the Sydney Cup, he was out of form too, although not so significantly – he finished fourth in the Chairman’s Quality at Randwick before winning the Sydney feature. That day, he beat Norsqui and Aliyana Tilde – and I can’t say I’d be backing any of them in a Melbourne Cup of this calibre.

This preparation, he ran a good seventh first up behind Foreteller in the Makybe Diva Stakes before stepping straight up to 2400m for The Metropolitan. He finished a lacklustre eighth, and I’m not convinced of the strength of that form.

On Saturday, it was advised he was to be ridden forward in the Mackinnon Stakes, but Steven Arnold looked hesitant to take him to the lead and he let Side Glance go around and dictate. He dropped out to finish seventh.

From barrier 19, I think Brenton Avdulla will have to take him to the lead, and it will depend on how much pressure comes on from outside him with Tres Blue and Ruscello as to how hard they go.

No matter how he’s ridden on Tuesday, though, he looks to be making up the numbers.

He could have been entertained if he showed more in the Mackinnon Stakes on Saturday, but he showed absolutely nothing and there’s no way you could back him to beat a horse like Dear Demi home, given she meets him 1kg better at the weights.

Anyway, I doubt he has the quality of his stablemates and I think he’s a long way down the pecking order. Pass.


12. SEVILLE (9)Seville
Galileo x Silverskaya (Silver Hawk), 6yo horse

Bred in: Germany
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Robert Hickmott
Jockey: Hugh Bowman
Weight: 54.5kg
Career stats: 19:2-6-1
Win/Place Percentages: 11%/47%
Last 5 starts: 00917
Distances won at: 1 (2400m), 1 (1408m)
Biggest win: Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m), Randwick, 5/10/2013
Summary of his chances: Not sure about his form but there’s something about him. Winning hope.
Predicted finish: 7th

Former Coolmore galloper who ran second in the Irish Derby (behind Treasure Beach) and Grand Prix de Paris (behind Meandre) while trained by Aidan O’Brien. At his last start before he came to Australia, he finished fourth in the English St Leger behind Masked Marvel, Brown Panther and Sea Moon – and he meets all three again!

When he arrived last year, he had a traditional late autumn preparation, where he finished fourth to Linton in the R A Lee Stakes in Adelaide. He improved from a 10th in the Lawrence Stakes to finish fifth to Folding Gear in the Naturalism Stakes.

He pushed onto the Turnbull Stakes, where he unleashed a burst to defeat all bar eventual Melbourne Cup winner (and his stablemate) Green Moon. However, after that run, he contracted a virus and was put out to spell until the start of the spring this year.

He didn’t beat a single runner home at his first two runs in the Memsie Stakes and the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, but he improved to run seventh in the Naturalism Stakes (which was dominated on pace) before he went to Sydney and won The Metropolitan.

He then dropped back in distance for the Cox Plate and ran a terrific seventh, by far the best of the three Lloyd Williams-owned runners.

I’m still not overly convinced about his form coming into this race – The Metropolitan in particular looks worthless now – but he has a little bit of that x-factor which makes you think twice.

The other query I have about him is that the Galileos tend to struggle at 3200m, especially in Australia.

Nevertheless, he’s some chance for sure.


13. SUPER COOL (13)Super Cool
Fastnet Rock x Queen Mother (Kingmambo), 4yo gelding

Bred in: Australia
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Mark Kavanagh
Jockey: Corey Brown
Weight: 54.5kg
Career stats: 14:4-2-3
Win/Place Percentages: 29%/64%
Last 5 starts: 34935
Distances won at: 1 (2040m), 1 (2000m), 1 (1800m), 1 (1300m)
Biggest win: Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m), Flemington, 9/3/2013
Summary of his chances: A Fastnet Rock over 3200m? No thanks.
Predicted finish: 23rd

Australian Cup winner who comes to Flemington with a sense of timing about him – although, to be fair, he may not be at his best this preparation either.

Won the Moonee Valley Vase as a three year old, beating It’s A Dundeel, before finishing second to Fiveandahalfstar in the Victoria Derby.

In the autumn, he was able to turn the tables on Fiveandahalfstar in the Australian Cup, and was immediately put out to spell with the Cox Plate on the agenda.

Began well with a terrific third in the Memsie Stakes, then produced an odd performance in the Dato Tan Chin Nam when he was under extreme pressure at the 600m before finding again to finish a close up fourth to Fiorente.

Disappointed behind his stablemate Atlantic Jewel in the Caulfield Stakes, but performed well in the Cox Plate, finishing fifth to Shamus Award.

The distance looks his main stumbling block, and there were a number of horses I’d prefer to follow here from the Cox Plate.

But you have to respect Mark Kavanagh’s opinion in throwing him into the race, and the last three year old to win the Australian Cup (Saintly, 1996) also won the Melbourne Cup in the same year.

There were stamina concerns with Saintly too, but the crucial difference for mine was that Saintly had a good grounding at 2400m before the Melbourne Cup. He’d run twice over the trip in the autumn, finishing 3rd in The BMW (then the Mercedes Classic) and 2nd in the AJC Derby, both times behind Octagonal. He also had the 2600m race in the spring, finishing third as an odds-on favourite in The Metropolitan before winning the Cox Plate-Melbourne Cup double.

Super Cool hasn’t had the same grounding, so I’ll be working around him.


14. MASKED MARVEL (2)Masked Marvel
Montjeu x Waldmark (Mark of Esteem), 6yo horse

Bred in: United Kingdom
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Robert Hickmott
Jockey: Michael Rodd
Weight: 54kg
Career stats: 17:4-1-2
Win/Place Percentages: 24%/41%
Last 5 starts: 8×0320
Distances won at: 1 (2937m), 1 (2615m), 1 (2213), 1 (1621m)
Biggest win: Group 1 English St Leger (1m 6f 132y/a2950m), Doncaster, 10/9/2011
Summary of his chances: Finally gets to a suitable race and he’ll run a far better race than in the Cox Plate.
Predicted finish: 5th

2011 English St Leger who meets second (Brown Panther), third (Sea Moon) and fourth (Seville) from that race once again.

He was a quirky galloper in the United Kingdom, who mixed his form. For example, he won his first start impressively before two disappointing efforts.

He then won the Cocked Hat Stakes at Listed level in a canter (although the form may have been exaggerated, with third Picture Editor and fourth Auld Burns unable to get out of restricted company in Australia).

He finished midfield in the Epsom Derby, before winning the Bahrain Trophy and then the St Leger, both runs suggesting that stamina was his forte with a nice turn of foot at the finish.

He went to the Arc, where he finished last behind Danedream, and whatever happened during that period must have been horrific, because he returned a completely legless galloper. He could not pick up his feet at all, with his only creditable performance a third in the Coronation Cup (Red Cadeaux was second, My Quest for Peace fourth).

After his final disappointing run, he was brought down to Australia to join Macedon Lodge.

He finished last in the Makybe Diva Stakes, but it wasn’t a bad run by any standards. He proved this when he finished third in the Hill Stakes, and he probably would have won if he hadn’t drifted to the outside fence, before a second in the Craven Plate.

Last start, he stuck to 2000m and finished second last in the Cox Plate, beaten a long way.

I’m sure many will look at his last start and immediately rule a line, but for me, I think it was exactly what I expected.

It was his third straight run at 2000m, Moonee Valley was never likely to suit – especially given the way the race was run – and he’ll be much better suited at the Flemington 3200m.

I think he’s had a terrific preparation, and I’ll be including him in all multiples for sure. Chance.


15. MOUNT ATHOS (22)Mount Athos
Montjeu x Ionian Sea (Slip Anchor), 7yo gelding

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: United Kingdom
Trainer: Luca Cumani
Jockey: Craig Williams
Weight: 54kg
Career stats: 26:8-1-1
Win/Place Percentages: 31%/38%
Last 5 starts: 0x1582
Distances won at: 3 (2816m), 1 (2716m), 1 (2696m), 2 (2414m), 1 (2098m)
Biggest win: Group 3 Ormonde Stakes (1m 5f 89y/a2700m), Chester, 10/5/2013
Summary of his chances: He’s definitely a chance of atoning for last year, which still makes me shudder.
Predicted finish: 6th

Hands up if you were on him last year…and hands up if you are still in pain?

Both my hands are raised wildly.

Anyone who read my website last year knows that we’d been keen on him for months, securing $160 on Betfair and tipping him to everyone around.

We maintained our confidence until they were halfway down the straight the first time, when Ryan Moore kept him deep and back off a slow tempo. Our chances were cruelled then, and the fact he managed to fly home for fifth was agony in itself. If you saw the ride of Jamie Spencer on Side Glance in the Mackinnon Stakes – that’s what Moore should have done. Instead, he left him wide, let him drift back and he flew home.

It was said to have so despaired his trainer Luca Cumani, he immediately declared to his daughter Francesca (a host on Channel 7’s racing coverage) that he was never returning. He probably would have been serious too, after seeing his best chance slaughtered, but owner Dr Marwan Koukash is not so easily deterred, and so he’s back for another crack.

I daresay his campaign this year has been entirely geared towards returning to Melbourne and – without suggesting anything untoward – I believe they would have done everything in their power to keep the allocated weight as low as possible. It succeeded, as he gets in with 54kg again this year.

He began the year with a nine length victory in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester, a hugely flattered performance as he beat England’s most enigmatic galloper Mad Moose.

He then finished an average fifth in the Hardwicke Stakes (Dandino was second), before a lacklustre eighth in the Goodwood Cup behind Brown Panther which raised questions about his stamina. These queries are valid, in my opinion – last year’s Melbourne Cup was hardly a staying test. But I think an Australian 3200m, which isn’t as tough as an English two miles on an undulating track, should be fine for him.

Last start, he returned to form with a second in the March Stakes, and the form out of the race has been very strong. The winner, Harris Tweed, was just nosed out by Royal Diamond in the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day, third Tac de Boistron (who failed out here because he didn’t handle our firm tracks) won a Listed race by eight lengths at Chester before winning the Prix Royal Oak by five lengths, and fourth Camborne has won two races since.

By all reports, Mount Athos has travelled well and as much as it pains me to say it, he looks a terrific chance. The only possible negative is the wide gate, but Craig Williams is probably the best Australian jockey currently riding who hasn’t won the Melbourne Cup, and I’m sure he’ll give the horse every chance. I’ll be including him.

To watch Mount Athos win the Ormonde Stakes by nine lengths, click here.

16. ROYAL EMPIRE (11)Royal Empire
Teofilo x Zeiting (Zieten), 5yo horse

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: United Kingdom/United Arab Emirates
Trainer: Saeed Bin Suroor
Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy
Weight: 54kg
Career stats: 13:5-5-1
Win/Place Percentages: 38%/85%
Last 5 starts: 0x1122
Distances won at: 1 (2716m), 1 (2018m), 1 (1900m), 2 (1609m)
Biggest win: Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes (1m 5f 61y/a2650m), Newbury, 17/8/2013
Summary of his chances: Godolphin’s best chance in years of finally securing the elusive Cup.
Predicted finish: 2nd

Global powerhouse Godolphin returns once again to try and win a race that continues to elude them.

It’s 15 years now since they brought their first horse, Faithful Son in 1998, and in that time they’ve been represented most years – they didn’t have a runner between 2005 and 2008, although that was mainly due to injuries to horses who had already arrived in Australia.

Still, they’ve managed to place in the race four times, with Central Park (second to Rogan Josh in 1999), Give The Slip (second to Ethereal in 2001), Beekeeper (third to Media Puzzle in 2002) and Crime Scene (second to Shocking in 2009).

The main link between the four horses –not Beekeeper so much, but definitely the other three – was their aptitude over shorter trips.

Central Park was an Italian Derby winner who was mainly used as a pacemaker by Godolphin for some of their better horses, Give The Slip was an Ebor winner also used for the same purpose, while Crime Scene was an emerging galloper. Interestingly, Central Park and Crime Scene didn’t race beyond 2400m before their Melbourne Cup attempt, while the furthest Give The Slip had gone was 2800m for the Ebor.

Royal Empire fits into this mould. The furthest he’s gone is approximately 2700m, the distance over which he won the Geoffrey Freer Stakes – a race won by Mount Athos last year – in August. That day, he beat Red Cadeaux by a length and a half, giving him 2.5kg. He meets him the same here.

At his last two starts, he’s finished second over 2400m, both times to fellow Godolphin runners. Compared to the Geoffrey Freer, where he was ridden back, he was ridden forward at his last two, in all likelihood to prepare him for an Australian tilt.

He still looks to have quite a fair amount of promise, and he is incredibly consistent, always putting his best foot forward. He looks to have a turn of foot and he’s looked good at trackwork.

He looks Godolphin’s best chance in a number of years, and he’ll be in the thick of things in the straight. Big wraps.

To watch Royal Empire win the Geoffrey Freer Stakes, click here.

17. VOLEUSE DE COEURS (21)Voleuse de Coeurs
Teofilo x Vadorga (Grand Lodge), 5yo mare

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Michael Moroney
Jockey: James McDonald
Weight: 54kg
Career stats: 13:5-3-2
Win/Place Percentages: 38%/77%
Last 5 starts: 21321
Distances won at: 2 (3219m), 2 (2816m), 1 (2213m)
Biggest win: Group 1 Irish St Leger (1m 6f/a2800m), The Curragh, 15/9/2013
Summary of her chances: More dollars than sense…they should have listened to Dermot Weld!
Predicted finish: 22nd

Runaway Irish St Leger winner who is only here because she was bought by Eliza Park International in the aftermath of that race.

She stamped herself as a stayer of potential with a 10 length victory in the Irish Cesarewitch last year on a bog, but was beaten first up in my one time temporary home town of Limerick this season.

She’s steadily improved throughout the season – winning the Vintage Crop Stakes easily, finishing third in the Curragh Cup and second in the Irish St Leger Trial before dominating in the feature itself.

After the race, trainer Dermot Weld ruled her out of the Melbourne Cup for a number of reasons. He didn’t believe she was mentally ready for the race and for the rigours of travel, nor did he believe she would be suited by the firm Australian tracks. While she won the Irish St Leger on a good track in Ireland, the equivalent in Australia would be a dead 5 to slow 6. A firm track in Ireland would be the equivalent of our good 3, and there must be serious question marks over how she’d handle a track so firm.

Given all the queries, I’m inclined to agree with the wily Irish master Weld. Risking.


18. HAWKSPUR (18)Hawkspur
Purrealist x Mollyhawk (Catbird), 4yo gelding

Bred in: Australia
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Jim Cassidy
Weight: 53.5kg
Career stats: 23:7-6-0
Win/Place Percentages: 30%/57%
Last 5 starts: 71457
Distances won at: 1 (2400m), 1 (2200m), 1 (2100m), 1 (1900m), 1 (1850m), 1 (1800m), 1 (1600m)
Biggest win: Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m), Eagle Farm, 8/6/2013
Summary of his chances: 3200m looks a stretch, and comes from the only barrier never to produce a Melbourne Cup winner.
Predicted finish: 19th

Queensland Derby winner who has been one of the headline horses of the spring. He totally dominated the staying races for three year olds during the late autumn and early winter, so he was expected to have a good campaign. Unfortunately, not everything has quite gone right for him.

This preparation began with a satisfactory seventh in the Warwick Stakes, before he really had tongues wagging with a scintillating victory in the Chelmsford Stakes. He looked on track to dominate the spring, but he was a grinding fourth in the George Main Stakes (Fawkner was fifth) and then a remarkable fifth in the Turnbull Stakes when he flashed home along the inside.

On the basis of that run, he started favourite in the Caulfield Cup, but he came from a long way back to finish seventh.

There’s nothing wrong with his form – in fact, he brings some of the best form into the race – but for me, the big query is whether he’ll run out the trip.

Already, he’s surprised by running out 2400m, being by Purrealist (a sprinter-miler) out of a Catbird mare. Catbird won the Golden Slipper, but descends from a Melbourne Cup winner in Rainbird, and for some reason he seems to work as a stamina influence as a damsire.

That said, it’s a stretch altogether to say he can run out 3200m.

Also, he’s due to jump from barrier 18 – the only barrier to have never produced a Melbourne Cup winner.

On that basis (more the distance than the barrier hoodoo), I’m happy to avoid.


19. SIMENON (12)Simenon
Marju x Epistoliere (Alzao), 7yo gelding

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Ireland
Trainer: Willie Mullins
Jockey: Richard Hughes
Weight: 53.5kg
Career stats: 32:6-4-6
Win/Place Percentages: 19%/50%
Last 5 starts: 5×4223
Distances won at: 1 (4369m), 1 (4023m), 2 (3219m), 1 (1609m), 1 (1408m)
Biggest win: Queen Alexandra Stakes (2m 5f 159y, a4350m)
Summary of his chances: Irish eyes may be smiling on Tuesday.
Predicted finish: 9th

Irish galloper who is one of the most intriguing horses of this year’s Cup.

Considered a Derby horse as a three year old, he didn’t measure up to expectations, so he was bought by clients of Willie Mullins to go hurdling. While he did manage to win two races at Cork over the jumps last year, it was on the flat that he ended up finding his best form.

Sent to Royal Ascot for a restricted staying race last year, he showed the best turn of foot I’ve ever seen over 4000m to win the Ascot Stakes by six lengths. Five days later, he backed up again to win the Queen Alexandra Stakes by seven lengths in an even more impressive exhibition. His turn of foot at the end of almost 4400m was phenomenal, and the class of horse he beat wasn’t shabby – runner-up Shahwardi won last year’s Herbert Power Stakes.

Connections were keen to come last year, but he was unlikely to make the field, so they decided to wait until this year – in hindsight, a wise move.

He finished a close up fourth in the Chester Cup before almost pulling off the most unpopular win Royal Ascot would have ever seen when a neck second in the Ascot Gold Cup. That day, he finished just behind Estimate, who won for the Queen – the first time a reigning monarch has owned the winner of the feature event at the royal festival.

He backed that up with a narrow second to Ahzeemah in the Lonsdale Cup, when he was ridden upside down, before he came to Australia for a prep race. His third to Sea Moon in the Herbert Power, which showed he could handle Australian racing, was as good a trial for the Melbourne Cup as you’ll see, and he’s right in the race with a leading hope.

Perhaps he can provide a different experience for his trainer compared to a decade ago.

In 2003, Willie Mullins brought his first horse to Australia, a talented dual-purpose galloper called Holy Orders. He had beaten Media Puzzle six months before Dermot Weld’s charge had won at Flemington, and in the season before he came to Australia, he mixed flat racing and hurdling quite effectively.

However, when Holy Orders arrived in Melbourne, he steadfastly refused to gallop, despite the best efforts of his trainer as well as canny local horsemen like Ross McDonald.

Safe to say, it was no surprise when he finished 17th to Makybe Diva.

This time around, everything has gone perfectly for Mullins, and he looks to be in with a fair chance of winning the Melbourne Cup.


20. IBICENCO (17)Ibicenco
Shirocco x Iberi (Rainbow Quest), 6yo horse

Bred in: Germany
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Peter Moody
Jockey: Luke Nolen
Weight: 53kg
Career stats: 21:4-3-2
Win/Place Percentages: 19%/43%
Last 5 starts: 51801
Distances won at: 1 (3200m), 1 (2400m), 1 (2100m), 1 (1700m)
Biggest win: Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m), Geelong, 23/10/2013
Summary of his chances: Next…
Predicted finish: 24th

German import who has been a bit up and down since arriving here, although in his favour, he gets the Black Caviar combination of Peter Moody and Luke Nolen combining again.

In Germany, he’d run eighth in the German Derby (Brown Panther was fifth as favourite) while his best run was a second in the Grosser Preis von Europa behind one-time Cup runner Campanologist.

He joined OTI’s stable, trained by Luca Cumani, after finishing a game second to Opinion Poll in the Henry II Stakes last year. He had one run for Cumani in England, finishing seventh in the Lonsdale Cup, then came to Australia, where he finished seventh in the Moonee Valley Cup and fourth in the Lexus Stakes before winning the Sandown Cup.

He injured himself, and so was kept until the Brisbane winter, when he looked a genuinely different horse. He was hitting the line with gusto over distances too short under big weights, and he looked close to a certainty in the Queensland Cup over 3200m. But he was extremely disappointing, finishing 11 lengths from the winner in a terrible performance.

That said, he surprised first up by winning the Heatherlie Handicap first up, then made up good ground to finish eighth in the Naturalism Stakes. He went up to Sydney, and was terrible behind Seville in The Metropolitan, before nailing Verdant late to win what was a horribly weak Geelong Cup.

It’s a travesty that he got the same penalty as Moonee Valley Cup winner Precedence for what was in effect an inferior race. Verdant would get lapped here on his current form, and I think Precedence should have been the last runner into the field rather than Ibicenco.

Even if he was a chance on his Geelong Cup win, he mixes his form too much for my liking. He’s a genuine roughie and I’d be shocked if he ended up in the placings. If you draw him in a sweep, you’ve got more chance of finishing last.


21. VEREMA (3)Verema
Barathea x Vermentina (Darshaan), 5yo mare

Bred in: France
Nationality: France
Trainer: Alain de Royer Dupre
Jockey: Christophe Lemaire
Weight: 53kg
Career stats: 12:4-2-1
Win/Place Percentages: 33%/58%
Last 5 starts: 32511
Distances won at: 2 (3000m), 1 (2800m), 1 (2400m)
Biggest win: Group 2 Prix Kergorlay (3000m), Deauville, 18/8/2013
Summary of her chances: $$$$$$$ – hopefully!
Predicted finish: 1st

French staying mare who makes history just by lining up, for she is the first Australian runner for one of the world’s most prolific breeders, the Aga Khan.

His green and red silks have been seen the world over with a number of top horses, including Shergar – his disappearance is the subject of one of England’s most enduring mysteries – Sharastrani, Kahyasi, Sinndar, Dalakhani and Zarkava among others. He’s also sold a number of horses to Australia – the likes of Mourayan, Kesampour, Massiyn, Bayrir and Manighar began their careers in the green and red.

So the fact he’s brought one of his mares here is a massive coup for the race, and I doubt he or Alain de Royer Dupre would want to bring her here unless they thought she was a winning chance.

She was picked as a staying type early, winning the Prix de Lutece – a Group 3 over 3000m – last year, and finishing fourth in the French St Leger over 3100m. I daresay the penny has only dropped with her towards the back end of this year.

She finished third to last year’s Melbourne Cup 12th Cavalryman and Ahzeemah, who has form around Simenon and Brown Panther, in the Dubai Gold Cup after the race was not run to suit.

She then ran strongly in the Prix de Barbeville before flopping on wet ground in the Prix Vicomtesse Vigier. Back on top of the ground, she’s won her last two in the Prix Maurice de Nieuil and the Prix Kergorlay – the race that Americain won in 2010, while it also produced four of the first five across the line in 2011. That day, she beat Joshua Tree, who went on to win the Canadian International for the third time last week.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing her in a genuinely run race as I think she has a nice turn of foot and settles so comfortably in her races.

She’s still progressive, she seems to have travelled well, she’ll get track conditions to suit and I rate her highly.

I’ve been on her for a long time and I can’t see a reason to jump off her now. Top chance.


22. DEAR DEMI (16)Dear Demi
Dehere x Shirley (Zabeel), 4yo mare

Bred in: Australia
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Clarry Conners
Jockey: Chris Munce
Weight: 51kg
Career stats: 28:6-5-6
Win/Place Percentages: 21%/61%
Last 5 starts: 73832
Distances won at: 1 (2500m), 1 (2000m), 1 (1600m), 2 (1400m), 1 (1200m)
Biggest win: Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m), Flemington, 8/11/2012
Summary of her chances: One of the better local chances, but place probably best.
Predicted finish: 10th

It’s not often that a four year old mare would be one of the more experienced runners in the race, but that’s the case this year.

Her trainer, Clarry Conners, is known as “king of the kids” for his aptitude with two year olds, and while he hasn’t trained a Melbourne Cup winner, his two best runners in the Melbourne Cup were four year old mares.

In 1989, his brilliant mare Research, who had won the AJC Derby and AJC Oaks earlier in the year, finished seventh after striking interference, while in 2003, Zagalia led until the 200m when she finished fifth to Makybe Diva. The latter was for John Singleton, who also owns Dear Demi and has backed her to win at least $10 million.

In keeping with her trainer’s niche, Dear Demi was extensively tested as a two year old, winning the Fernhill Quality before finishing second to champion juvenile Pierro in the Champagne Stakes.

At three, she went down the fillies route, winning the Furious Stakes, placing in the Flight Stakes and the Thousand Guineas before winning the Crown Oaks.

In the autumn, she won the Surround Stakes before she seemed to lose her way. She wasn’t at her peak when she had a preparation culminating in a distant second to Royal Descent in the Australian Oaks. She continued onto Queensland, where she won the Doomben Roses before two lacklustre runs.

That said, she returned this spring a terrific mare, finishing third in the Underwood Stakes, a satisfactory eighth in the Turnbull Stakes, third in the Caulfield Cup and second in Saturday’s Mackinnon Stakes.

She did have every favour in the Caulfield Cup thanks to a brilliant James McDonald ride, but her run in the Mackinnon Stakes was outstanding off such a slow tempo.

With 51kg, she’ll put in a sight, and I think Chris Munce is a terrific booking.

I probably couldn’t see her winning, but she’s one of the best local chances for the placings.


23. TRES BLUE (20)Tres Blue
Anabaa Blue x Tres Ravi (Monsun), 4yo horse

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Gai Waterhouse
Jockey: Tommy Berry
Weight: 51kg
Career stats: 10:4-2-1
Win/Place Percentages: 40%/70%
Last 5 starts: 13211
Distances won at: 2 (2500m), 1 (2400m), 1 (1800m)
Biggest win: Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville (2500m), Deauville, 25/8/2013
Summary of his chances: European three year old who gets in light, but probably a place chance.
Predicted finish: 13th

European three-year-old (considered a four-year-old by Australian time) who joins the Gai Waterhouse stable to have his first start in Australia.

When he stepped up to 2400m for the first time this year, he won a Listed race at Lyon before finishing third in a Group 3 to the impressive Flintshire.

He then went to Hamburg for the German Derby, where he finished second after hitting the front, before a comfortable victory in the Prix de Reux over OTI Racing’s Montclair.

Last start, he won the Grand Prix de Deauville by a head to Penglai Pavillion, who went on to finish fifth to Treve in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Also behind him was Cirrus des Aigles, who won his next start impressively before finishing a head second to Farhh in the Champion Stakes at Ascot. However, Cirrus des Aigles had been seriously out of form before his victory, so I wouldn’t read too much into that victory.

There are a couple of concerns I have with Tres Blue – I get the feeling he’ll be ridden out to lead, and I’m not sure how those tactics will work for him.

There’s also a big query over the strength of this year’s European three year olds, although there are exceptions – Treve the most notable of these, but I’d list Intello there too. So perhaps he may be an exception.

With such a light weight on his back, he will be the one they all have to catch as they enter the straight.

But I must admit, I’d rather be on Dear Demi on 51kg than Tres Blue. Place chance at best for mine.


24. RUSCELLO (24)Ruscello
Cape Cross x Sea Picture (Royal Academy), 5yo gelding

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: United Kingdom/Australia
Trainer: Ed Walker
Jockey: Chad Schofield
Weight: 50kg
Career stats: 18:5-3-4
Win/Place Percentages: 28%/67%
Last 5 starts: 33321
Distances won at: 1 (2500m), 1 (2414m), 1 (2305m), 1 (2213m), 1 (2012m)
Biggest win: Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m), Flemington, 2/11/2013
Summary of his chances: 50kg on the Lexus winner is always a risky combination to ovelook, but probably a top 10 chance at best.
Predicted finish: 16th

Of the 47 remaining horses in the Melbourne Cup, he was number 47 in the order – until Saturday, when he managed to hold off Let’s Make Adeal to win the Lexus Stakes and guarantee a berth in the final field. Remarkable.

Before I look at his form, I actually thought Let’s Make Adeal had a really good chance in the Melbourne Cup, so on that basis alone I should rate Ruscello highly, especially given he gets in with 50kg.

However, the Lexus Stakes was the first time he’d ever raced outside of restricted company, and for mine, it just looks like it’s all coming too soon for him.

OTI had high hopes for him this year, but he failed to win and it looked highly unlikely that they would bring him to Australia. However, they decided to give him his chance to make the Melbourne Cup through the Lexus, with Ed Walker remaining in charge until the end of the spring.

At his first run here, he was just beaten by Backbone in a 2000m restricted race on Thousand Guineas day. Backbone carried 2kg more and I’m sure will be a hot favourite next time he steps out in a race.

And then, in the Lexus, Ruscello was well supported and didn’t let his backers down, with Kerrin McEvoy controlling the race on speed and kicking him home.

What was the most impressive part of his Lexus Stakes victory was the tenacity he showed when Let’s Make Adeal ranged up on his outside. It looked like she’d race right past him, but he fought on.

I’m not sure the race will be run the same on Tuesday, and I also think he may struggle at the 3200m.

If he does win, he could cap the most remarkable 10 days for 19-year-old jockey Chad Schofield after he rode his first Group 1 winner aboard Shamus Award in the Cox Plate.

Personally, I can’t see him winning but the Lexus Stakes winner invariably runs alright. Top 10 chance, but doubt he can run a place.



I drew this speed map up quickly – and here’s how I saw it panning out:

2013 Melbourne Cup Speed map

(Speedmap courtesy of

The most notable part of the map, for mine – and the part which could very well be wrong – is Fiorente settling handy. For mine, from the very good draw, the best option would be to settle handy, particularly given there doesn’t look to be a great deal of speed in the race.

Ruscello gaining entry through the Lexus Stakes may prove a blessing to some of those backmarkers who are relying on a genuine tempo to have any chance. From the outside barrier, I expect him to cross over and lead.

I also think Tres Blue will press forward, given the fact he’s drawn wide, he has the featherweight of 51kg and he has been trained under a Gai Waterhouse regime. I doubt fitness will be an issue for him.

I think Mourayan has to press forward too, while I expect Brown Panther to receive one of the best runs in the race.

The big query is where Dunaden goes from barrier 1. They tried to ride him forward in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes last year, and it backfired badly. If he goes back, he risks getting caught on the fence in traffic. It will take a masterful ride from Jamie Spencer for him to figure.

Based on this map, I expect the pace to be moderate, perhaps run like a European staying race where they begin slowly before building the tempo up gradually. That will suit horses in the first half of the field, especially those with cover.


It really is amazing how much effort we put in for a race that is over in 200 seconds, but there are a number of reasons for this. Primarily, it is my favourite race on the calendar, and I enjoy putting the effort into finding the winner.

But there is an element of pride on the line too. For most of you, this is the one time you’ll look at my blog each year. I could have tipped every winner this year, but the one race I’ll be judged on is the Melbourne Cup. That’s why I consider the Melbourne Cup day upon day, week upon week – to the extent that I probably overthink it!

I do enjoy the next three days though – it gives me a thrill to see and hear people talking about horse racing, which is effectively my life. It’s exciting!

As I said early on, this is one of the toughest Melbourne Cups I’ve ever had to analyse. It’s almost impossible. If you look at the comments holistically, I’ve said nine horses can win, a further five can finish in the placings, and 10 have no hope. Realistically, they don’t have “no hope” but they are horses I’m more prepared to overlook.

In the end, I’ve ended up with the French mare VEREMA on top in the hope she can become the third French-trained winner of the Melbourne Cup in four years. I think she’s a progressive mare who will be best suited to the Melbourne Cup, especially from the draw. She has the right formlines behind her, and unlike some owners, you can take a real push from the fact the Aga Khan has even decided to run her here. Here’s hoping his first runner in Australia can be a winner!

My own analysis tells me ROYAL EMPIRE is Godolphin’s best hope of winning the Melbourne Cup in a number of years. Unlike a number of their horses, I think this has been the target from the beginning, and I like his overall profile. Kerrin McEvoy is in sensational form, and he can give the boys in blue their first Melbourne Cup.

As late as Saturday afternoon, I had BROWN PANTHER ranked sixth. However, further analysis has me convinced he’s on target to run a mighty race. He’s always shown an incredible amount of talent, and combined with his dominant win over this distance in the Goodwood Cup, he must rank as some sort of chance.

And as for the Lloyd Williams contingent, I simply cannot figure out which of theirs will be in the finish. I had MASKED MARVEL in my top three for a long, long time, but today I’ve warmed again to SEA MOON. I think this will be the first suitable race he’s struck this preparation, and the way in which he’s continued to improve with every run suggests to me he’s Lloyd’s best Melbourne Cup hope.

I still have MASKED MARVEL fifth, as I do believe he’s better than what his Cox Plate run suggests, and he’ll lap up the 3200m. He’s the best stayer amongst Lloyd’s six runners, but these days you need a mix of class and stamina. Does he have the right balance? We’ll find out on Tuesday.

Next best is MOUNT ATHOS, who was in my top four until he came up with a wide draw, while SEVILLE, RED CADEAUX (who is an absurd price) and SIMENON round out the winning chances for mine. If I was weak, I could probably add DEAR DEMI to that group of winning horses, but I don’t think she’ll be quite good enough at 3200m to win.