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Melbourne Cup 2014: Can recent history give us a winner?

International Melbourne Cup hopeful Protectionist is worked at Werribee (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Roar Guru
3rd November, 2014
17
4995 Reads

Over the past month or so I’ve spent some decent time compiling some recent historical data on the 2014 Melbourne Cup in the hope of providing some answers to a race that is becoming increasingly difficult to analyse, purely on form and weights.

There are some exceptionally pertinent factors to consider, and while I’m only going back to the new millennium (year 2000), they do give us an idea of what is required to win this race in the modern era, and any trends that have developed in the past few years.

I am going to list recent statistics that appear to matter, and will apply a rating (out of 10) to each runner in this year’s race with some added comment that might not be evident at first glance.

More 2014 Melbourne Cup:
» Preview and top tips
» Full field and odds
» Historical form analysis for 2014 Melbourne Cup
» Latest news, field and odds updates
»Sea Moon scratched from Melbourne Cup
» ANDREW LEMON: Your guess is as good as my Cavalryman
» Full jockey list and analysis
» Won won in 2013

Age and Sex
This is the most pertinent statistic in recent history. The last six winners have been Entires (a stallion or horse that hasn’t been gelded) as have seven of the last eight.

From 2000 to 2005 no Entires won the cup, and in fact you have to go back to 1994 to find the last Entire winner before that, which was the champion Jeune. So if the Entire factor isn’t a trend I don’t know what one is!

Added to that factor the last four (Entire) winners have been six years of age and eight of the last 14 winners have been of that vintage. Three five-year-olds (two Entires), two four-year-olds and one seven-year-old (Makybe Diva’s third win) complete the 14 year picture back to 2000. In the 20 years prior to that six-year-olds won five so the trend appears to be increasing.

Weights
The most telling statistic in regard to weight is that 10 of the past 14 winners have dropped in weight before winning the Cup. Nine of those have dropped more than 2.5kg in weight, which computes to an average (winning) drop in weight of approximately 3.5kg.

No horse has carried over 58kg to win in the 14-year period, and you have to go back a long way to find the last one that did. It was Think Big in 1975 who carried 58.5kg.

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Having said that, the minimum weight would almost certainly have been lower that year (49kg or lower) and we have to keep in mind that all weights have been raised 2kg this year to give us a minimum weight of 51kg. Therefore the higher weighted horses shouldn’t necessarily be dismissed, and Makybe Diva carried 6.5kg and 9kg over the minimum in two of her wins, while Japanese horse Delta Blues carried 6kg over.

Form
11 of the past 14 winners finished in the first four placings at their prior start, with six of those having won penultimately.

The three that haven’t in that period had all finished well back in a major lead up race at 2000m (two in the Cox Plate and one from Mackinnon Stakes), dropping significantly in weight.

Imported Horses
Only one imported horse has managed to win the race without having a run here and that was Vintgage Crop in 1993. Four of the last 14 have done so, with three of those winning the Geelong Cup prior.

The other was Japanese horse Delta Blues, who ran third in the Caulfield Cup and was extremely unlucky not to win that race. Red Cadeaux came within a whisker of breaking that hoodoo in 2011 and again ran a mighty second last year, and a couple of others have gone extremely close.

Added to that fact no imported horse (even going back to Vintage Crop) has won this 3200m race without having won or placed at 3100m and beyond.

The last two winners of the Cup have been former imports trained by Austrialians.

Australasian Horses
Conversely of the eight ‘local’ winners in the past 14 years, only Makybe Diva (two wins) had won beyond 2500m prior to their Melbourne Cup triumph.

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Our horses don’t appear to require the same stamina in their pedigree as the Internationals, but it’s probably wise to note that four of those eight winners (Makybe Diva three times, Shocking once) had overseas breeding on both the Sire and Dam side. Makybe Diva was actually foaled in England and was shipped to Australia before having raced.

Flemington
Flemington is largely a ‘horses for courses’ track, and while all the International runners have won without a run here, only one Australasian hasn’t (Ethereal, though not 100 per cent sure) out of the eight winners (past 14 years). It’s best to see some Flemington form (win or a placing) if you fancy a local.

If you look at a finish of last year’s race you will see that four of the first six placegetters had experience at the track. The first two placegetters were dominant and both had run second in previous renditions of the race.

Breeding
It would be one of the last places anybody would look in regard to finding a winner of the great race, but some decent research seems to indicate otherwise. Half of the winners since 2000 have been sired by a former Irish racehorse, and six have been by a US raced or born Dam (mother).

No Australian-based sire has fathered a winner since Rogan Josh in 1999 and all of the other winning Dams have either been New Zealand bred (4) or European bred (France 2, GB 1, Ireland 1). Ideally the best candidate would be a horse sired by an Irish father and out of a US or New Zealand bred Mother.

Lead up race
The best in recent times is evenly divided between the Cox Plate (4), Caulfield Cup (4) and Geelong Cup (3) but from the Saturday prior the Lexus has also provided (2), as has the Mackinnon (1). Recent trends have definitely seen the Cox Plate prominent (three of last seven) and the Geelong Cup (three of last 12).

The Caulfield Cup hasn’t produced a winner since 2006, but with an increase in prizemoney this year the trend would seem to have shifted back.

Only one runner from the Cox Plate this year will attempt the race and the Geelong Cup doesn’t provide one at all. Interestingly the last two horses to win via Geelong also contested a race in France called the Prix Kergorlay, and Delta Blues in 2006 contested Japan’s biggest two-mile race (the Tenno Sho-Spring) enroute. More on that in my runner appraisal.

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Barrier
Is probably the least significant of the historical data I’ve assessed, but it’s worth noting that no winner in this 14-year period has won inside barrier three or outside barrier 14.

A good barrier gives a jockey more options and could make the difference between a win and a loss, even in a two-mile race at a spacious circuit like Flemington.

Middle barriers are the winningest ones over a long period of time, which tends to suggest it is best to avoid early interference nearer the rail early, or conversely not have to cover too much extra ground out wide throughout the race.

Runners and historical analysis with rating

1. ADMIRE RAKTI
Has many pundits divided in their opinion of his ability to carry 58.5kg to win. His form almost mirrors his counterpart Delta Blues in 2006 in respect to his outstanding Caulfield Cup run, and his form in Japan over the past couple of years.

He too contested the Tenno Sho (Spring), and actually finished a little closer to the winner than DB did. And he has won beyond 3200 just as DB did.

He has to concede 7kg to the minimum weighted horse on Tuesday, while Delta Blue conceded 6kg in 2006 to win. But if you factor the 2kg weight rise for most horses this year it doesn’t seem an insurmountable problem.

And when you look back to 2006 two Japanese horses completely dominated the finish with more than 4L to the third horse. Delta Blues could easily have carried one or 2kg more, and still won that race.

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Like DB this horse is an Entire but is slightly older at age seven. He has drawn a perfect barrier in eight and that should ensure his jockey can find some cover in the race to offset his big impost. Rating 8/10

2. CAVALRYMAN
Has two major historical factors on his side, in regard to him being an Entire, and an import that has won at 3200m.

He actually ran in this race in 2012 , but never figured after getting well back (on the rail) in a race that was leader dominated.

He is all US bred which puts him in the same category as 2010 winner Dunaden. But he is from England, and no English import has quite managed to win the race. He is nine years of age too, and would need to create history to win beyond age eight.

He’s drawn a nice barrier but that didn’t assist in 2012. Rating 4/10

3. FAWKNER
Has a similar profile to last year’s winner Fiorente. He comes off a less than one length defeat in the Cox Plate, and did contest last year’s Melbourne Cup where he ran an admirable sixth, beaten 6L.

His preparation has been a lighter one than most locals have required (three runs), and he does rise 2.5kg from last year. He might not have run the 3200m quite well enough last year, and his age (7) and all Australian breeding aren’t encouraging from a recent historical viewpoint. Rating 5/10

4. RED CADEAUX
Attempts this race for the fourth time in a row and has always been competitive. He was runner up in 2011 and 2013 and did very well to run eighth (beaten 6L) in 2012, after getting way back in the race from a wide barrier in a leader dominated race.

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He has drawn the same barrier as in 2011 (15) but did have a better barrier last year (7). At nine years of age he too needs to set an age record to win, but he does only rise half a kilo in this year’s race, where all weights have been raised 2kg. He has met Admire Rakti twice in Japan over 3200m in the past 24 months with the score at 1-1.

Neither horse won either race but there was very little between them at level weights. This time he meets AR 1.5kg better. That gives him a winning chance, and he does handle this track with aplomb. He looks the value runner in the race to me. Rating 7/10

5. PROTECTIONIST
He is a German Import who has had the advantage of a run here when a close fourth in the Herbert Power a month or so ago.

That is an important prerequisite for an international winner, and it’s also interesting that he has the same Sire as last year’s winner Fiorente (Monsun), and he too is out of an Irish bred Dam like that horse.

He hasn’t won beyond 3000m but I would give him the benefit of the doubt at 3200m, given he was strong at the end of the Prix Kergorlay (at 3000m). And it was on a wet track which would have tested his stamina even further.

That was the race that both Dunaden and Americain contested before arriving here in 2010 and 2011, but the time this horse ran was some 17 seconds slower. The track rating was inferior though and he did carry 1kg more, but that is quite a substantial difference and it compared unfavourably to other times on that day, over shorter distances.

Nevertheless he is yet to run a bad race in seven starts, winning four and yet to be beaten more than a length. And the formlines out of the Prix Kergorlay have been good. He drops 2.5kg from his last run and did finish top four He is a 5year-oldEntire so has a lot going for him. The only real negative is the limited number of starts he has had which really has no precedent. Rating 7.5/10

6. SEA MOONScratched – read our story on it here
It is very hard to rate highly on a historical basis. His best asset is his Entire status, but his form is probably too poor to win, and his 3200m credentials aren’t good.

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Only a slight drop in weight from last start in the Caulfield Cup where he finished last, and he has drawn the exact same barrier here (18). Rating 2/10

7. SEISMOS
He also looks to be struggling historically. On the positive side he is an import that has had a run here this Spring, but it was a poor run in the Caulfield Cup. He has two failures at this distance overseas and is a seven-year-old gelding which is the wrong age and sex.

He is sired by an Irish horse, which is good from a breeding perspective, but he has drawn barrier one as he did at Caulfield which didn’t seem to suit. Rating 2/10.

8. JUNOOB
Ran okay in the Caulfield Cup, but didn’t finish top four there, and is a seven-year-old gelding. He has no decent form beyond 2400m and gets little weight relief from last start.

He is out of a US bred mare which is a positive, and has drawn a nice barrier. Being a naturalised import he might not need to have won beyond 2400m but he needs to lift off a dour effort last start which followed a hard fought Metrop win in Sydney. Rating 3.5/10

9. ROYAL DIAMOND
Should struggle to win at age nine and is a British horse without a run here. He has won at 3200m, though, and it is interesting he has a more fancied stablemate owned in the same interests (Mutual Regard).

Reading between the lines he might go forward and set a fast pace which might suit MR. That is just an educated guess though.

He has drawn well and has a hefty 6.5kg weight drop off a last start failure. Could be a surprise packet but nothing much to go on historically. Rating 3/10

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10. GATEWOOD
He is the Geelong Cup winner of two years ago so that’s encouraging, even though he comes back from overseas this Spring.

He still has his Entire status intact although age seven isn’t ideal. He is out of an Irish Sire and he drops 3.5kg in weight off a last start win in late August. This time he has an English jockey aboard who, remarkably, has never finished out of place on him in 13 starts (5 wins).

The big doubt with this horse is that he has not attempted a distance beyond 2500m and he has drawn poorly in barrier 22. He is actually quite an intriguing runner because he has had a number of runs in Australia, so on that basis he doesn’t need form beyond 2400m historically speaking.

No run here has been deliberate because he ‘jars up’ after a race on harder ground, but he did win at Geelong on firm ground. His class is questionable, but I think he is way over the odds at $81 with his last six starts reading 211212. Rating 6/10

11. MUTUAL REGARD
A six-year-old gelding who won the richest handicap race in England last start at York in the Ebor. He won in fast time there and no runner has contested that race and contested the Melbourne Cup without a run here at least in recent history. He has had 17 starts for seven wins and has never carried a weight lower than 57kg.

He drops 4kg into this and is 2-2/5 at 3200m. His stablemate might set a fast pace for him, and he has drawn an ideal middle barrier. He wants a firm track and should get it.

He is a former British horse but is now trained in Ireland by Johnny Murtagh who has only had him for three starts. Could Johnny do a Dermot Weld re Vintage Crop and win this race without a run her for an Irish trainer? He is another intriguing runner with a definite hope here. Rating 6.5/10

12. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN
He is the right age at six and is all New Zealand-bred, like 2007 winner Efficient. He is a gelding though, and comes off a 13th of 18 in the Caulfield Cup and gets little weight relief.

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The positive for him is that he has won twice this Spring at Flemington, and has won at 3200m back home. He has won 8/15 in his career, and his barrier draw is okay historically, and certainly better than the wide one he got at Caulfield, where he was never comfortable out wide, and too close to the pace.

Glen Boss knows how to win this race and a dry track would be beneficial. Maybe he lacks the class to carry the weight and win, but he could surprise, and I’m sure he will get a fair whack of public support given his name. Rating 6/10

13. WILLING FOE
He probably has enough ability, but is a British horse without a run here and is an eight-year-old gelding. He has also drawn a wide barrier and has no form beyond 2800m. Breeding reveals nothing too positive, but he does drop 7kg off his last start fourth. Rating 3/10

14. MY AMBIVALENT
Unfortunately missed a run in the Caulfield Cup and she looked a great chance in that race. She has the class but is an imported mare that is yet to win beyond 2400m. Six years old is a positive, as is an inside barrier draw (4). By an Irish sire is another positive.

She drops 7kg from her last run, and has a shrewd trainer who travels his horses well. Quite hard to assess, but she is headstrong and given that you would like to have seen her have a run here. Rating 4.5/10

15. PRECEDENCE
Is trained by Bart (and James) Cummings which is the best recommendation I can give. Down on form, nine years of age (gelding), several failures in this race and 0/5 at the distance. Barrier 20 is a bit of a nightmare. Given a lighter preparation this year might work. Rating 3/10

16. BRAMBLES
Is the right age at six but is a gelding. He ran a nice fourth in the Caulfield Cup but was 6+ lengths away in the Mackinnon on the weekend.

Seems like an odd decision to run him in that racem but has a 5kg weight drop here and three winners in the past seven years have had a similar profile.

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By an Australian sire is not good given the recent history, and he must be some doubt at 3200m from barrier 20. Rating 4/10

17. MR O’CEIRIN
He is surely one we can totally ignore? He is a seven-year-old gelding with poor form and lacks the required class to win. Seventh in the Mornington Cup last start and 0/15 on dry tracks.

How does he get a start? Best historical asset is a 5kg weight drop from last start. Breeding not a real positive. Might inject some pace into the race given he is a leader. Rating 1/10

18. AU REVOIR
Is a five-year-oldEntire who has had a run here recently in the Moonee Valley Cup for a third placing. He drops 3kg for this so can’t be ignored.

Barrier 23 sours this a little, and he hasn’t won beyond 2450m.

What he has done though is run fourth over 3000m at Longchamp, which was a narrow defeat, and the time there was 16 seconds faster than Protectionist recorded for the same distance at Deauxville!

He was only 4L from Flintshire at level weights in France last year, and that horse ran a super second in this year’s Arc (Europe’s premier staying race).

I expected him to win at Moonee Valley but he disappointed there off a soft run in front. This is a significant rise in class, but he drops 3kg in weight and has an Irish Sire. Plenty going for him historically and a bit of rain around would see him way over the odds. Gear changes! Rating 6.5/10

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19. LIDARI
A six-year-old Entire, which is the ideal age and sex given the last four winners have had the same profile.

Unlike any of those horses though he has no win at 2400m or beyond, and was a little disappointing in the Caulfield Cup though not far away.

Little weight relief out of that race, but he has won here, and has drawn ideally. His breeding has little recent precedent and his class is a little in question, but he can’t be totally dismissed from a historical perspective. Rating 5/10

20. OPINION
This is a very hard horse to follow, but is at the ideal age of six. Another naturalised import who is yet to win beyond 2400m. Breeding is no real help historically, and his last run was possibly too below par for serious consideration. Rating 2.5/10

21. ARALDO
Is a lightly-raced former import who seems to be on the improve, and is a seven-year-old Entire down in the weights.

He ran on quite well in the Caulfield Cup for fifth place last start (albeit all favours in the run), which might indicate he is looking for further. Having said that he has only won to 2500m, and is by a sire not renowned for producing 3200m horses.

He does have a brother that has won at 4000m, so all is not lost and that horse (Altano) recently placed behind Protectionist in the Prix Kergorlay. He has a win at Flemington, and his trainer has tasted success in this race before.

The negatives are he has drawn very wide, gets no relief in weight from last start, and doesn’t like to win. If he can rectify the last factor, and overcome the barrier, he is a live chance though. Rating 5.5/10

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22. LUCIA VALENTINA
Should get a nice run in the race from barrier two and her last run in the Caulfield Cup was good enough, if she can run the 3200m. She gets no weight relief from last start though, and is by an Australian sire that isn’t renowned for getting two mile winners.

She does profile a little like the last New Zealand mare to win this in 2001 (Ethereal) but that mare did win an Oaks and the Caulfield Cup prior to her Melbourne Cup victory. She is an very genuine mare with enough quality, but doesn’t really have recent history on her side. Rating 5/10

23. UNCHAIN MY HEART
Seems to be making up the numbers given she is an eight-year-old mare with severe class misgivings. She comes off a 17th of 18 in the Caulfield Cup and gets half a kilo weight relief. The positives are barrier five, an affinity for Flemington and she is 2/2 this track and distance. I can see why she has got a run (unlike some others), but it would be a massive upset if she ran in the first four Rating 2/10

24. SIGNOFF
For me he is a case of last but not least! An impressive winner of the Lexus on Saturday and he drops 5kg into this race. Not quite the right age and sex being a five-year-old gelding but he profiles at least as well as Shocking (2009) and Brew (2000) in winning the same race leading in.

He had blinkers first time on Saturday and he has an Irish Sire and US bred dam which is just perfect from a historical perspective.

A better barrier than 16 would have been preferable, but ironically both Shocking and Brew drew a lot wider on the occasions they managed to win. And he has the services of perhaps the best jockey in the world right now, in Brazilian Joao Moreira, who took the reins in the Lexus.

He seems to be the horse that has genuinely beaten the handicapper, and has come good at the right time. Rating 8.5/10

Summing up, once again it looks quite a difficult race this year, and the more you look at it the more chances you can find.

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The betting market appears to be largely consistent with what I have found from a historical perspective, given my three highest rated horses are among the first four favourites. There doesn’t appear to be much between quite a few runners so perhaps the value might lie in those rated between six and 7/10.

1. SIGNOFF
2. ADMIRE RAKTI
3. PROTECTIONIST
4.RED CADEAUX

The big value might rest with Red Cadeaux, Au Revoir, Gatewood and Who Shot TheBarman at very generous double figure odds.