The Roar
The Roar


Dr George's 2015 Melbourne Cup field analysis and tips

There is plenty of action at Caulfield this weekend. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Roar Rookie
1st November, 2015
22146 Reads

Hi Roarers, keen for some objective tips on the 20115 Melbourne Cup?

Before I start, I’d like to say this.


Sifting through all of the Melbourne Cup media hype from self-proclaimed racing experts to the beliefs of punters and conniving betting companies who brazenly proclaim their horse picks carrying their vested self-interests as the absolute “definite winner”, sure can be intimidating.

More 2015 Melbourne Cup
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>> 2015 Melbourne Cup runner-by-runner guide
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Especially when all you keep hearing is “I think horse X is going to win because…” and then follows a list of immeasurable subjective observations ignoring any negative aspects about the horse. So deciding which horse to back in a field of 24 horses can be very confusing.

The reality is that the Melbourne Cup is one of the more predictable races in the world in due part to the Australian track 3200m distance that tends to reduce the “luck” factor and gives horses with proven staying ability an obvious advantage.

Objectively analysing the field using quantitative analysis with numbers is the only way to separate the emotion and exaggerated claims from the hard truth. The numbers are always neutral and make complete statements.

A few variables that are very significant, among others, are having a lead-up race in Australia, being weighted 55kgs or under, being lightly raced, and being in the more highly-rated top half of the field.


In the last nine years from 2006 to 2014, of the horses that placed first and second in the Cup, only three out of the 18 horses (17%) came from the bottom half (Shocking 2009, Maluckyday 2010 and Green Moon 2012).

That’s historically an 83% chance that the top half will yield both the winner and runner-up. Horses in the bottom half even with their lighter weights of 50kgs to 53kgs generally do not have the staying ability compared to the top half of the field which typically carries upwards of 54kgs. So bottom half candidate horses such as Preferment, Kingfisher and Almoonqith would be out of contention for first and second placings.

Here are the horses that my quantitative analysis has rated as having the best chances compared to the rest of the field, with my selections to follow.

Trip To Paris – Weighted well at 55kgs and has shown to have a turn of foot as shown by his performance in the Caulfield Cup which yielded the fastest sectional times across the board.

Winner of the 4000m Gold Cup on the Ascot track, this horse will go the distance at Flemington. Previous Gold Cup winners (Drum Taps, Double Trigger) have never won The Cup but that was due to their 59kg+ weight and the fact they never had a lead-up run in Australia.

Trainer Ed Dunlop, who also trains Red Cadeaux, knows what it takes to excel in The Cup as this is his sixth time visiting Australia searching for a maiden victory after four runner-up positions with Cadeaux. Good barrier. Huge chance.

Criterion – A globe-trotting superstar that performed well in the Cox Plate. His autumn campaign also championed the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which incidentally also featured a hindered performance from another highly rated Japanese horse, To The World.


Criterion is in peak fitness but carries 57.5kgs, and there are doubts as to whether he can run the 3200m as most of his victories have been at 2000m. A possible place chance.

Fame Game – This Japanese horse is a threat based on his quickness and staying ability. He’s a backmarker that will shift through the field in the final 1000m and turn on the acceleration in the last 600m. Has drawn a good barrier.

In spite of all the hype, the reasons why he won’t win the Cup logically outweigh the reasons why he can, as outlined in the Anti-Fame Game article I wrote one week ago.

Horse racing and logic hardly go together though. The assumption that he can repeat his form from the Tenno Sho race in May to six months later at The Cup may be foolhardy and is certainly not guaranteed. Comparisons to Gold Ship who narrowly beat Fame Game in the Sho in May and who is rated the number one horse in Japan, may be premature if we look at Gold Ship’s previously poor performance in Europe with the Arc last year. Perhaps European stayers are now on par with the Japanese?

Also out of five Group 1 races, Fame Game has only placed once. That stat doesn’t lie regardless of how much perceived greatness is hyped onto him. The Game’s a definite place chance and cannot rule him out of winning if things go his way. That is if the track isn’t rated soft.

Red Cadeaux – An excellent chance to figure in the finish. This year his handicap is 2kgs lighter and he is a proven stayer. Loves Flemington and is always under everyone’s radar. After four previous attempts, Ed Dunlop would not risk bringing him here for a sixth time unless there was a real chance he could win. Over the odds and very likely placing in the top four

Who Shot TheBarman – Horses that are returning to the Cup from running in the previous year generally do as well or better the second time round. Barman is a genuine stayer as proven by his third placing in the Cup last year, and his second placing in the Sydney Cup this year.

While he has had a subdued spring campaign the last few months, his notable Caulfield Cup seventh place, keenly hitting the line, gives the impression he’s saving his best for Flemington. Another top four chance.


Best of the rest – Max Dynamite, a hurdling horse, is reported to be in excellent condition. He has achieved success over the distance many times and his hurdling runs have weighted him 65kgs+. He’ll find his allocated 55kgs weight a breeze. Willie Mullins, his trainer, has spent a lot of time prepping this horse, but without a lead-up race in Australia, nobody knows how he’ll perform. Either very well or very poorly I’d imagine. Definite x-factor in the race.

To win the Melbourne Cup you need a bit of luck, and the ability to convert that luck into success.

Who has the best chance to win the Melbourne Cup 2015?

Trip To Paris. It’s going to be Ed Dunlop’s day at last…

With Red Cadeaux and Fame Game placing second and third respectively. Criterion, Who Shot Thebarman, Preferment, Max Dynamite, Almoonqith in fourth. That’s the long shot exotic bet.

Good luck Roarers on Cup Day, hopefully it’s a profitable one, and see you next year!

> Read The Roar’s full preview and runner-by-runner guide (which is also objective!).