Racing fans are in for a genuine treat on Saturday with some mouth-watering action in Sydney at Royal Randwick.
The Melbourne Cup is the race that stops a nation, but there are another nine races on the Flemington card in what is traditionally the toughest punting day of the year.
More 2017 Melbourne Cup
» Race report: Rekindling wins
» Who came last
» Complete finishing order
» Watch video highlights replay
» Re-live the race with our live blog
» Regal Monarch’s horror fall
» Winning trifecta and quinella
» Winning exact and first four
Massive fields of horses coming into each race with wildly differing formlines make things very tricky for punters. Let’s have a crack anyway.
The two-year-olds kick off proceedings with a mid-morning start, most of which are making their racing debut.
It’s generally best to back something with race experience in the October/November juvenile races, and in this case, we’re choosing between the only two in the field that fit that bill – Setsuna and Qafila, who both have winning form.
Qafila (2) looks the one to beat based on her debut win at Caulfield, where she weaved through the field before running down the leader. The wide draw should help her. Setsuna (1) won at Moonee Valley in a tough performance, in keeping with the Waterhouse stamp.
Of the unraced, Lake District Girl (8) and Yulong Monoceros (13) have both seen some support in the early markets, which is always a good sign. They are both from in-form stables, which helps.
Selections: 1. Qafila 2. Setsuna 3. Lake District Girl 4. Yulong Monoceros
Safe play: Qafila (2) – each-way
Value bet: Box trifecta – 1, 2, 8, 13
It’s tough to launch into short favourites on Cup Day when big fields are the order of the day, but Invincibella (3) looks a standout in the second race of the day and might be a bank builder for the rest of the card.
The Chris Waller-trained mare showed a touch of class as a three-year-old filly, and is fulfilling that promise in her four-year-old year. She ran well last start when unable to reel in an all-the-way leader, drops nicely in class here, and 1700m at Flemington appeals.
Hell or Highwater (1) has been up longer than Stonehenge and might have shown last run that she’s had enough. She’ll have to carry a good horse’s weight to win. Miles of Krishan (8) is ready to peak now up to this distance, and a repeat of her Queen of the South run in Adelaide behind Amelie’s Star back in May goes very close to winning this.
Linguist (13) is one to keep an eye on at odds. Trainers Ellerton and Zahra are canny targeters of races in Cup week at their home track, and Linguist scored with authority last start, beating a couple of in-form horses. Rock Away (11) has been running well at big prices and is another with fluker’s claims.
Selections: 1. Invincibella 2. Linguist 3. Miles of Krishan 4. Rock Away
Safe play: Invincibella (3) – win
Value bet: Linguist (13) – each-way
There are a handful of key chances in this race, and the market has assessed them correctly as an even lot.
Land of Plenty (3) has been running in high-quality races, finding himself three lengths in arrears a few times this prep. This assignment looks about three lengths easier than the Bobbie Lewis, Rupert Clarke and Gilgai Stakes, so he should be right in the finish as long as he doesn’t get boxed away on the rail from barrier two.
The Adelaide form usually holds up well in Cup week, so Dollar for Dollar (4) must be respected after back-to-back wins over there. Stablemate Fox Hall (5) looks a little forgotten back to her pet distance.
New Universe (6), for Chris Waller, was beaten favourite first-up, but looks in for another solid prep rising through the grades. He has an impeccable second-up record. Milwaukee (9) looks ready to go as a four-year-old after a promising three-year-old season, based on his first-up win. He beat Divine Quality (12) there, who looks a smart one. Milwaukee will be hard to run down if allowed to control the race from the front.
Selections: 1. Land of Plenty 2. Fox Hall 3. Milwaukee 4. Dollar for Dollar
Safe play: Land of Plenty (3) – each-way
Value bet: Fox Hall (5) – each-way
The lesser stayers get their chance for glory here, and there are a number of horses that could win.
The Lloyd Williams camp has two runners here, to go with their six in the Cup, and they have a knack of peaking their horses for the big days at Flemington. Granddukeoftuscany (3) brings the best last start performance into this race, and is the one to beat up on the speed from an inside draw. Sherlock Holmes (15) is a lightly raced six-year-old that has been building nicely for a race of this calibre.
Yogi (5) has been racing consistently, appears to enjoy his races spaced, and will enjoy this easier assignment. Stablemate Ubin Thunderstruck (16) is a lightly raced improver that has form to tie in.
The Hayes camp has a couple of representatives that have claims. Sin to Win (6) is racing in great heart, and has earned a crack at stepping up in class. Fanatic (2) hasn’t been close to winning this campaign but has been racing against higher class horses than she faces here. She looks the overs of the race.
Selections: 1. Granddukeoftuscany 2. Yogi 3. Sherlock Holmes 4. Fanatic
Safe play: Granddukeoftuscany (3) – each-way
Value bet: Fanatic (2) – each-way
We saw the Coolmore Stud Stakes attract the A grade sprinting three-year-old talent on Derby day, and this race sees the second tier get a chance to impress.
Property (1) is the testing material, who performed adequately first-up against the older sprinters. He has the weight to carry here, but is still better off under the set weight penalties than he would be in a handicap.
Bandipur (2) always runs well and appears a little bit forgotten in the market. Piracy (5) is also from the Godolphin stable, and brings in the right Sydney form. Paret (9) also comes down from north of the border, and will be closing harder than anything else in the race. He’s got above average ability.
Madeenaty (4) has been knocking on the door all prep and gets another chance here. She’ll enjoy dropping 3.5kgs from her last start. Sam’s Image (6) and Nature Strip (8) beat her home last start at Moonee Valley, and also have claims in an even race.
Selections: 1. Paret 2. Madeenaty 3. Property 4. Piracy
Safe play: Paret (9)
Value bet: Box trifecta – 1, 2, 4, 5, 9
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Our Crown Mistress (2) is the clear market-elect in this race for fillies, having won three on the trot coming in. Last start was a strong performance after working wide early, but she toughed it out in the straight.
Counterplay (3) made good ground behind Our Crown Mistress last start, but might have been flattered by the rail bias of the day. She’s been very consistent and will be around the mark again.
Luqyaa (7) was very good first-up at Flemington and then put in a run much better than it looks on paper at Caulfield. She was running on in the worst part of the track, but still put in the second quickest last 400m of the race. From a middle barrier with the hot Blake Shinn in the saddle, she’ll be charging late.
Torvill (1), Warranty (6), Tarcoola Spirit (8) and Yulong Xingsheng (9) also have claims as smart horses in form.
Selections: 1. Our Crown Mistress 2. Luqyaa 3. Counterplay 4. Yulong Xingsheng
Safe play: Our Crown Mistress (2) – win
Value bet: Luqyaa (7) – each-way
Where to look when it comes to assessing form to find the Melbourne Cup winner?
The Caulfield Cup is the key local reference, won by Boom Time (15), with Single Gaze (19) in second. But there are only two winning Melbourne Cup chances to come from the race, which are Marmelo (5) and Johannes Vermeer (7).
Marmelo was the eye-catcher out wide, and the winner of the Prix Kergolay, which he had done his previous start, is always a huge Melbourne Cup reference. No-one rides Flemington better than Hugh Bowman, particularly in staying races. He looks the right horse at the right time.
Johannes Vermeer might have won the Caulfield Cup if the race was another 100m long, ducking and weaving for inside runs before finishing third as the heavily backed favourite. He has drawn to perfection once more.
Wall of Fire (20) is another international to have had a run in Australia before this race, with a strong second in the Herbert Power. He beat home subsequent Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time in that race, and now meets him 1.5kgs better for it. The question mark over him is whether he is a genuine two-mile stayer, or does the last couple of furlongs find him out?
Almandin (2) is the defending Melbourne Cup champion with a love for Flemington. He was outshone by Amelie’s Star (23) last time out in the Bart Cummings, putting in an unflattering performance. If we take him on trust that he will perform his best, he is a key chance again.
Humidor (3) is the Cox Plate runner in the Melbourne Cup, which has often proved a pivotal lead-up race. He pushed Winx all the way in that race, and there is no better form in the world than that. There’s no doubt he’s the class of the field, but is he a stayer? He’s raced three times beyond 2000m, all at 2400m, and he’s been beaten by an average of six lengths in those races. How does he go at 3200m?
There are a few internationals making their Australian debut in the Cup, which we know hasn’t proven to be a winning formula.
Tiberian (4) has won four races this year and profiles well. Red Cardinal (6) doesn’t convince. US Army Ranger (14) doesn’t look good enough. Nakeeta (18) looks to lack enough class. Thomas Hobson (21) has been a bit of a street-corner tip based on trackwork out at Werribee and has snuck into the field with a winnable weight. Rekindling (22) is a classy youngster that should get a dream run.
Looking at those that represent value for trifectas and first fours – Ventura Storm can improve on his Caulfield Cup run, and remember he did beat Humidor two starts back. Amelie’s Star was outstanding winning the Bart Cummings, beating Almandin easily, and can be forgiven her Caulfield Cup failure.
Selections: 1. Marmelo 2. Johannes Vermeer 3. Almandin 4. Tiberian
Safe play: Marmelo (5) – each-way
Value bet: First four – roving bankers 5 and 7, adding in 2, 4, 10, 12, 20, 21, 22, 23
This 1800m Listed race on Cup day always attracts a few handy types, and this year is no exception.
The Seymour Cup provides a few contenders, via winner Balf’s Choice (7), second-placed Radipole (14), who has since run well in the Kennedy Mile, and Pure Pride (12), who was dominant at Flemington two starts back and reserves her best for this track.
Life Less Ordinary (10) is well in the market for Chris Waller and Hugh Bowman, dropping well back in distance off a Group 1 win. The former is a tactic Waller often uses, and the latter is a formula often successful at this time of year.
Lubiton (11) will be the likely leader and has already recorded three wins this prep. All of her career wins have come at smaller tracks, and Flemington is a different story. She looks a risk. International visitor Mr Garcia (21) needs to catch a break in order to make the field, but can win.
There are a number of good horses at big odds that need to be considered – Maurus (4) is hitting form as his prep goes on and drops in class, Turnitaround (5) can win on his Toorak run two back if we forgive his flop last time, Tashbeeh (9) is looking for this trip now but can only be taken on trust, Nozomi (13) is tracking okay for this type of race, and Brown Ben (15) is the obligatory Adelaide mention in hot form over there at this kind of trip.
Selections: 1. Pure Pride 2. Life Less Ordinary 3. Maurus 4. Nozomi
Safe play: Pure Pride (12) – each-way
Value bet: Nozomi (13) – each-way
Good luck to all punters in working this capacity field sprint down the Flemington straight.
Faatinah (3) looks the horse to beat in this, given two very good runs this preparation in strong fields. He’s shown in the past that he can dominate down the straight.
Casino Wizard (5) has a Group 1 third to Vega Magic on his resume, and a reproduction of that run would have him in the race. Ocean Embers (9) has talent, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen it.
Crystal Dreamer (10) was outclassed last start, but finds a much more suitable race here. He’s a winner down the straight, is trained at the track, and that third to Voodoo Lad and So Si Bon two months ago looks really good.
So You Too (13) doesn’t know how to run a bad race, and his last start third behind Rich Charm was franked on Saturday when that horse won again. Calanda (6) ran eighth in the same lead-up, but actually recorded the quickest last 200m, 400m and 600m of the race after getting in a spot of both early.
Selections: 1. Faatinah 2. Crystal Dreamer 3. Calanda 4. So You Too
Best bet: Faatinah (3) – each-way
Value bet: Crystal Dreamer (10) – each-way
A typically open mares race to close proceedings on Melbourne Cup day, with very few runners you wouldn’t concede a chance to.
Fuhryk (1) is always hard to beat in this grade, and her last start win has been validated by second-placed Lyuba winning on Derby day. 59kgs is a new impost for her, though.
Eckstein (2) almost won the Group 1 Myer Classic on Saturday, and must be respected if backing up quickly, but is unlikely to run. Cool Passion (3) beat Shillelagh home last start, and that horse is now a Group 1 winner. She looks great each-way value. Quilate (4) and White Moss (5) are last start Group 3 winners, in Melbourne and Sydney respectively.
Miss Gunpowder (6) has had every chance to win in both starts this campaign, but hasn’t been able to get it done. She’s always a chance in this kind of race. Swampland (11) has been racing all year, is capable of winning and will be running on. Pedrena (13) is extremely promising and her best is yet to come. She might have the most upside of any in this field.
Selections: 1. Pedrena 2. Cool Passion 3. Miss Gunpowder 4. Swampland
Safe play: Pedrena (13) – each-way
Value bet: Box trifecta – 3 6 11 13 (plus 2 if she isn’t scratched)