Australia’s richest horse race has been taken out by Almandin taking out the 2016 Melbourne Cup in a tight finish, over Heartbreak City.
It was a spine-tingling finish with a great call by Greg Miles, who was a winner when having to call 24 horses and nine of them in similar colours.
As we know, Almandin was the winner – etching his name into history, and the Lloyd Williams legend grows stronger, picking up home racing’s most sought after cup (along with a tidy $3.6 million in prizemoney).
But in any race with such a big field, as well as so much expectation and hope riding on the hard work and investment of many, there is always a string of under (and over) performers.
Let’s take a look at some of 2016’s biggest winners and losers.
Winners: Almandin and Team Williams
The Lloyd Williams stable does it again. It’s their Cup, for the fifth time. They won with Just A Dash (1981), What A Nuisance (1985), Efficient (2007), and Green Moon (2012).
How do they do it? It’s a relentless approach to winning the big one. The team don’t mind winning other races through the season but they focus on the Cup.
It’s expensive, it’s single-minded and it’s been devastatingly effective. Punters know that if they’ve backed a Lloyd Williams horse they’re in with a chance. The only problem is that he always more than one runner which does make it hard.
Winner: Jockey Kerrin McEvoy
McEvoy gave his mount every chance. If you get a chance to watch a replay after the hubub has died down, you’ll watch him position his mount just worse than midfield, glide along and pull out just at the right time. His urgings down the straight got the horse home over Heartbreak City.
Of course, you can say he kept the Cup in the family with his sister-in-law, Michelle Payne, winning last year.
Winners: Punters and form experts
After last year’s $101 winner that put the egg on the face of punters and form experts alike, the winner this year in Almandin was tipped by racing’s form experts and backed in the markets as well.
You just know I’m going to say
Almandin was my tip on The Roar, don’t you!
The favourite in Hartnell was third and had his chance as well, not quite finishing out the last 250m. Punters who were on him had every chance and might’ve got their money back if they backed him each-way.
Bookmakers will have taken a hit on the race as punters got one back after last year.
Winner: German sire Mosun
All hail this German stallion, who’s sired three winners in the last few years: Fiorente (2013) and Protectionist (2014) and now Almandin. His progeny just had a zero added to their value for Australian owners looking to buy a horse for a Cup!
Middle-distance horses that couldn’t stay
The race tempo was significant enough to make this a true staying test. The winners and the top finishers came from the back. Who Shot Thebarman was flat last for much of the trip and finished right there – he’s one of our most well-known stayers and he got the trip properly.
Those that folded included Jameka, who couldn’t get the trip. She’s still a great Australian mare but a truly run Cup did look tough.
Losers: International horses without a run in Australia
It’s astonishing how close Heartbreak City was to winning. Joao Moreira gave it a wonderful chance and it was so close to holding off the faster finishing Almandin.
But yet again, the international horses got close. Yet again, they couldn’t win.
Heartbreak City was second without a run and was brilliant, but would he have won if he’d had a run before hand?
Qewy finished in fourth and had a run in the Cup beforehand, but you’d have to say that horse looked like he needed it.
Once again, it’s easy to say that this strategy failed. It was oh so close, but punters who use the rule that you can’t win if you don’t have a run in Australia before the Cup got it right again. Just.
Losers: Godolphin stable
The might of the global Godolphin operation, the world’s biggest stable, couldn’t do it in the Melbourne Cup yet again.
They did grab third and fourth which is a huge amount of prizemoney, so it’s not like it was a complete failure for the operation.
But with five horses in the race – a record number for the stable in any race around the world – and all of them given different preparations, they just didn’t figure strongly enough.
Hartnell – brave in third
Qewy – did well to hold onto fourth
Beautiful Romance – surprised with 7th
Oceanographer – disappointed in 12th but pulled up lame
Secret Number – 21st after leading and falling away.
Loser: Frankie Dettori
Poor Frankie. He came over for his 15th Cup and went home empty handed on Wicklow Brave. That horse was drawn widest in barrier 24. While you could say that wrote off his chances, Heartbreak City drew right next to him in barrier 23 and was second. Dettori and Wicklow Brave were 22nd.
It’ll be another long flight home for the great jockey who just can’t seem to get the luck he needs in Australia in the Cup.