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Melbourne Cup 2019 preview and top tips

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4th November, 2019
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Giddy up punters it’s time for the Melbourne Cup (Group 1, 3200m). A crack field has been assembled for this classic at Flemington and those of you having a once-a-year flutter should be able to find plenty of value, with the favourite almost at double figures.

While the Melbourne Cup is not my favourite race from a punting perspective, it’s a great challenge as a form student to analyse 24 different horses and their mixed lead-up races to determine who will come out on top.

More Melbourne Cup
» CHAMPION: Vow And Declare finishes first
» WATCH: Video highlights
» Winners and losers
» Fashions on the Field ratings

Based on what we saw on Saturday on Derby Day, the track is going to be rain-affected. While it might not be a bottomless pit, expect the Flemington surface to present as a slow 5 or slow 6 at 3pm on Tuesday.

If the sun comes out, it should dry out reasonably quickly, based on the excellent drainage at racing’s headquarters.

Below I’ve taken a look at each horse. Being a handicap, the 24 horses will carry a weight determined to make the race as even as possible.

This year, there’s just a 5.5kg gap between top weight Cross Counter and bottom weight Youngstar, which suggests it should be an even contest.

While you can find my tip at the bottom, I suggest you make up your own mind about a horse, whether that’s based on form, the colours, the jockey or a lucky number.

The beauty of the Melbourne Cup is to be able to pick the winner, or collect some cash in the office sweep.

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Good luck if you’re having a punt in the race that stops the nation.

1. Cross Counter

Five-year-old bay gelding
Weight:
57.5kg
Bred: Great Britain
Trainer: Charlie Appleby (GB)
Jockey: James Doyle (GB)
Career record: 12:6-2-1
Barrier: 5
Odds: $13

Why he can win: He was a dominant winner of this race last year and has been aimed at this event again. He is a genuine staying star who relishes the two-mile distance and doesn’t mind a firm track. A bit of sting out of the surface won’t be a concern, either.

Why he can’t win: Carried 51kg last year and this year will be asked to lump 57.5kg. That’s a huge swing for a horse that did only win by a length last time.

Will he/won’t he: I don’t have him on top, but he’s a genuine winning chance. James Doyle will have to produce a McEvoy-like ten out of ten ride to get the job done as he’s the kind of horse that will be in traffic at some point. Expect him to be running on late into the major money.

Predicted finish bracket: 1-6

Cross Counter (GB) ridden by Kerrin McEvoy wins the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse on November 06, 2018 in Flemington, Australia.

(Photo: Brett Holburt/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

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2. Mer De Glace

Five-year-old bay/brown entire
Weight:
56kg
Bred: Japan
Trainer: Jisashi Shimizu (JPN)
Jockey: Damian Lane (AUS)
Career record: 18:8-2-5
Barrier: 2
Odds: $7.65

Why he can win: Showed his class with a dominant victory in the Caulfield Cup. The Japanese raiders have an excellent record in Australia when they bring the right horses and he looks cherry ripe for this event.

Why he can’t win: Unproven at this trip with no wins past 2400m. The Caulfield Cup win a fortnight ago was his furthest victory in 18 starts. Not used to rain-affected tracks, either.

Will he/won’t he: This topline Japanese horse has raced 18 times and always between 1800 and 2200m before the Caulfield Cup. Damian Lane has ridden the winners of every major this year (Golden Slipper, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate) so it would be a fairytale to become to be the first to achieve the grand slam in a calendar year. Although there are question marks over his staying ability, he showed enough in the Caulfield Cup to suggest he can be in the finish. However, if the track is worse than slow 5, I’d probably risk.

Predicted finish bracket: 1-6

3. Master Of Reality

Five-year-old bay gelding
Weight:
55.5kg
Bred: Ireland
Trainer: Joseph O’Brien (IRE)
Jockey: Frankie Dettori (ITA)
Career record: 12:3-1-2
Barrier: 1
Odds: $15

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Why he can win: Has the services of one of the best jockeys in the world and is an out-and-out stayer, as proven when he placed in the Ascot Gold Cup over 4000m in June this year. The rain over the weekend has helped his case, too.

Why he can’t win: Might be too dour for this kind of race. The Melbourne Cup is won by a horse than can stay the trip, but also boasts a turn of foot in the straight.

Will he/won’t he: If there’s a lot of rain around he becomes a place chance, but Flemington drains pretty well and there are other rivals who’ll appreciate the sting out just as much. I respect Team Williams and their incredible record in the Melbourne Cup as owners, but I’m just not warming to this gelding.

Predicted finish bracket: 7-12

4. Mirage Dancer

Six-year-old bay entire
Weight:
55.5kg
Bred: Great Britain
Trainers: Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young (AUS)
Jockey: Ben Melham (AUS)
Career record: 17:4-5-4
Barrier: 13
Odds: $34

Why he can win: Ran third in the Caulfield Cup when first-up in Australia. Looked like a horse that would have kept running if the race was further.

Why he can’t win: Hasn’t won past 2400m in the UK and hasn’t won at Group 1 level before. Past four starts he’s finished in the placings but hasn’t gone on with the job. The track could also be some concern. Historically, Mirage Dancer is best suited to firm ground.

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Will he/won’t he: I tipped him first-up in the Caulfield Cup at good odds and he didn’t disappoint on an each-way basis, but this looks an even harder assignment. The fact he can stay and doesn’t mind firm/slightly soft ground will see him finish in front of a few rivals, but he just doesn’t appear to have that turn of foot you need to be winning the Melbourne Cup.

Predicted finish bracket: 13-18

Mirage Dancer

(Photo by Lo Chun Kit /Getty Images)

5. Southern France

Five-year-old bay entire
Weight:
55.5kg
Bred: Ireland
Trainers: Ciaron Maher and David Eustace (AUS)
Jockey: Mark Zahra (AUS)
Career record: 14:3-3-3
Barrier: 14
Odds: $26

Why he can win: Ran third in the Group 1 Irish St Leger in September and that’s been a decent form race for Melbourne Cups in the past. Comes to Australia in pretty good condition and looks well in his coat at Werribee, according to those that know. Is a genuine stayer and well-weighted in this handicap.

Why he can’t win: Has just three wins to his name and the best of those was at Group 3 level. Is first-up in Australia and Aidan O’Brien was happy to let him go. Is that a sign?

Will he/won’t he: It’s always hard to tell whether these imports are going to step up in Australia and there’s just no runs in the board overseas to suggest he can win this race with any confidence. Happy to risk.

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Predicted finish bracket: 13-18

6. Hunting Horn

Five-year-old bay entire
Weight:
55kg
Bred: Ireland
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien (IRE)
Jockey: Seamie Heffernan (IRE)
Career record: 22:3-2-5
Barrier: 11
Odds: $34

Why he can win: Won the Moonee Valley Cup in impressive style with Ryan Moore in the saddle. Also has form around European champ Enable over the middle distances back home.

Why he can’t win: He doesn’t run a lot of bad races but he doesn’t win a lot, either. His victory at Moonee Valley last week broke a 14-run drought. Hard to imagine him winning two in a row now.

Will he/won’t he: This horse has run at Group or Listed level for pretty much his whole career and rarely has his colours lowered, but he’s just not an elite type. He beat Latrobe in his maiden on a heavy track, but I have Latrobe finishing in front of him at Flemington.

Predicted finish bracket: 13-18

7. Latrobe

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Five-year-old brown entire
Weight:
55kg
Bred: Ireland
Trainer: Joseph O’Brien (IRE)
Jockey: James McDonald (AUS/NZ)
Career record: 15:3-6-1
Barrier: 22
Odds: $21

Why he can win: Won the Irish Derby and is a seasoned traveller. Last year he ran second in the Mackinnon over 2000m on the final day of the Flemington, while he also contested the prestigious Hong Kong Vase last December. Has been aimed at this race for owners Lloyd and Nick Williams.

Why he can’t win: All three of his career victories have been over 2400m and two of those were as a three-year-old. Hasn’t proven himself to be a Group 1 horse in open company and is probably poorly weighted considering.

Will he/won’t he: He’s the right type of horse for Australia. He can handle different types of ground and he’s got more of a sprint than some of his European counterparts. But is he a two-miler? I don’t think so. The Williams team has enjoyed some success in the Melbourne Cup, but I don’t fancy it will be with this bloke. He’ll be brilliant enough to beat half the field home, but he doesn’t appeal as a winning chance.

Predicted finish bracket: 7-12

8. Mustajeer

Seven-year-old bay gelding
Weight:
55kg
Bred: Great Britain
Trainer: Kris Lees (AUS)
Jockey: Damien Oliver (AUS)
Career record: 20:4-3-3
Barrier: 6
Odds: $17

Why he can win: Found the line nicely in the Caulfield Cup, which suggests he has settled well in Australia and isn’t a concern at the longer distance. In capable hands with Kris Lees calling the shots and managed to win the Group 1 Ebor Handicap with 59.5kg in August.

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Why he can’t win: The rivals who finished in front of him in the Caulfield Cup looked like they could do it again if the race was run again. Mustajeer did win over 2787 at Ebor, but that was his longest distance win to date. He’s a staying type, but there’s nothing about him that screams Melbourne Cup winner.

Will he/won’t he: Damien Oliver will fancy his chances on Mustajeer because he knows how the race is run and he knows he’s got a horse that can handle the track conditions and won’t run out of steam. But Mustajeer won’t be winning. He’s an outside place chance and should run in the top ten, but I’ve got him around that seventh or eighth mark.

Predicted finish bracket: 7-12

9. Rostropovich

Five-year-old bay gelding
Weight:
55kg
Bred: Ireland
Trainers: David and Ben Hayes, Tom Dabernig (AUS)
Jockey: Dwayne Dunn (AUS)
Career record: 18:4-2-2
Barrier: 12
Odds: $67

Why he can win: Ran fifth in this race last year which means he’s capable of getting around the track and distance.

Why he can’t win: Couldn’t win last year and now is being asked to carry 4.5kg more. He also hasn’t won a race since September last year.

Will he/won’t he: Couldn’t possibly win on form. He did run fifth in the last Melbourne Cup but I can’t see a repeat of that. The Hayes-Dabernig Team should start bottling the water from their Euroa stable if they manage to get him to win, based on what we’ve seen this prep.

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Predicted finish bracket: 19-24

Donnacha O'Brien riding Rostropovich

(Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

10. Twilight Payment

Seven-year-old bay gelding
Weight:
55kg
Bred: Ireland
Trainer: Joseph O’Brien (IRE)
Jockey: Patrick Cosgrave (IRE)
Career record: 24:5-9-5
Barrier: 19
Odds: $101

Why he can win: Carried a big weight (62kg) to win the Curragh Cup back home in June and shouldn’t have a problem with the distance.

Why he can’t win: Might be a little dour for this race and hasn’t had a lead-up run in Australia. Was also disappointing in the Irish St Leger before departing for Melbourne.

Will he/won’t he: He’s an out-and-out stayer which is a tick, but does he have the dash to win a Melbourne Cup? Not from what I’ve seen. He’ll look a winning chance at some point at the top of the straight, but when the sprint goes on, he’ll be left flat-footed.

Predicted finish bracket: 19-24

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11. Finche

Six-year-old chestnut gelding
Weight:
54kg
Bred: Great Britain
Trainer: Chris Waller (AUS/NZ)
Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy (AUS)
Career record: 14:4-1-3
Barrier: 4
Odds: $9

Why he can win: Hasn’t finished further back than fifth in his six Australian runs. In last year’s Melbourne Cup he ran fourth and carries the same weight here. Gets the services of reigning Cup-winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who has produced plenty of good rides in this event.

Why he can’t win: Had his chance in the Caulfield Cup and that was a big opportunity. I do have question marks over his ability as a genuine stayer. He’s highly talented and well-weighted, but does he have the stamina in the final furlong? We’ll find out at 3pm on Tuesday.

Will he/won’t he: He’s been short in the market since bookies framed them this time last year. Personally, he’s a place chance at best, but I’m keen to take him on. He’s vulnerable in the final stages of the race and is more a middle-distance horse here in Australia. He’s going to run in the top ten, but I’m leaving him out of my trifecta.

Predicted finish bracket: 7-12

12. Prince Of Arran

Seven-year-old bay gelding
Weight:
54kg
Bred: Great Britain
Trainer: Charlie Fellowes (GB)
Jockey: Michael Walker (AUS/NZ)
Career record: 37:6-7-5
Barrier: 8
Odds: $21

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Why he can win: Has loved life since arriving in Australia. Ran second in the Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield before backing up to win the Geelong Cup, a noted form race for the Melbourne Cup. Ran third in this race last year, too.

Why he can’t win: This race is harder than the Geelong Cup and he had everything go his way in that race. Would need to improve significantly on that run.

Will he/won’t he: I really like his chances. Last year he had to win the Hotham Handicap on Derby Day to get a start and was only beaten three lengths from a wide barrier. He carries just one kilo extra than last year but has been ultra-reliable in this country. Don’t expect him to run poorly on Tuesday, he’s a chance to take out the Cup.

Predicted finish bracket: 1-6

A Prince Of Arran ridden by Michael Walker wins the Lexus Stakes

(AAP Image/Hamish Blair)

13. Raymond Tusk

Five-year-old bay entire
Weight:
53.5kg
Bred: Ireland
Trainer: Richard Hannon (GB)
Jockey: Jamie Spencer (IRE)
Career record: 12:3-3-1
Barrier: 3
Odds: $15

Why he can win: Is carrying a small weight and has form in Europe that suggests he can be competitive in Australia. Is also a seasoned traveller, which means that a trip to these shores shouldn’t pose a major problem.

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Why he can’t win: Hasn’t been in the winners’ stall for more than a year and hasn’t had a run in Australia yet. Taking a gamble if you expect him to be winning on Tuesday.

Will he/won’t he: He’ll stay the trip, but whether he can stay it as quickly as his rivals is the main question. Personally, I just don’t think he will. Richard Hannon should have given him a run in Australia to let him get used to the way our races are run. The Geelong Cup would have been ideal. If he brings his absolute best he can run a place, but I have him just better than midfield.

Predicted finish bracket: 7-12

14. Downdraft

Five-year-old bay entire
Weight:
53.5kg
Bred: Ireland
Trainer: Joseph O’Brien (IRE)
Jockey: John Allen (IRE/AUS)
Career record: 18:7-2-1
Barrier: 15
Odds: $17

Why he can win: Confirmed his place in the Cup with a terrific win in the Lexus on Saturday, which is a traditional lead-in race. Lumped 59kg in that event and drops to 53.5kg on Tuesday. Conditions should be similar, too.

Why he can’t win: Will be racing for the third time in 11 days in the Cup and that goes against his normal trend of racing back home. Horses that qualify via the Lexus don’t have a high strike rate in the Melbourne Cup.

Will he/won’t he: Has to be a very good chance based off Saturday’s run. Lexus winners usually perform well in the Cup, even if they don’t necessarily win a lot. But carrying 59kg and dropping to 53.5kg is a big tick and I expect the track to be similar in the big dance. I tipped him on Saturday so I’m going to throw him into my trifecta here because he ticks so many boxes.

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Predicted finish bracket: 1-6

15. Magic Wand

Five-year-old bay mare
Weight:
53.5kg
Bred: Ireland
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien (IRE)
Jockey: Ryan Moore (GB)
Career record: 19:2-7-2
Barrier: 24
Odds: $26

Why she can win: Led them up in the Cox Plate and was brave in defeat, tiring late to be swamped by some fresh rivals. The Cox Plate is our best race and being competitive in that is always a good sign, albeit they are much different races.

Why she can’t win: Isn’t a winner, as a rule. Magic Wand hasn’t crossed the line first in a race since Phar Lap was a foal. Her last win was in June 2018 and that was just her second overall. Serious question marks over her staying ability, too.

Will she/won’t she: I just can’t see it happening. She’s poorly weighted for a horse with two wins to her name and no serious form to note in the last 12 months. Bookies have her in the market, but if she wins I’ll eat my hat. No chance, especially from barrier 24.

Predicted finish bracket: 19-24

Magic Wand

(Reg Ryan/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

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16. Neufbosc

Five-year-old grey gelding
Weight:
53.5kg
Bred: France
Trainers: David and Ben Hayes, Tom Dabernig (AUS)
Jockey: Luke Nolen (AUS)
Career record: 13:3-2-1
Barrier: 23
Odds: $301

Why he can win: Has been aimed at this race and is one of the country’s best stables.

Why he can’t win: He lacks the talent and class to beat most of these rivals home.

Will he/won’t he: There’s been absolutely no indication that Neufbosc is capable of winning a maiden at Warnambool, let alone a Melbourne Cup, since he arrived in Australia last year. I respect the stable and understand the horse had talent back in Europe, but he just hasn’t found his feet here. Making up the numbers.

Predicted finish bracket: 19-24

17. Sound

Seven-year-old brown/black entire
Weight:
53.5kg
Bred: Germany
Trainer: Michael Moroney (AUS/NZ)
Jockey: James Winks (AUS)
Career record: 24:7-2-1
Barrier: 10
Odds: $201

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Why he can win: Has been in the care of Michael Moroney for a full calendar year now, so should be ready to show us his best form after he was beaten a long way in the Melbourne Cup last year.

Why he can’t win: Finished 18th in the Cup last year and was 27 lengths off Cross Counter. Has raced six more times in Australia since and hasn’t filled a place.

Will he/won’t he: He won’t be winning. Should be 200/1 when they jump and those odds would be generous.

Predicted finish bracket: 19-24

18. Surprise Baby

Five-year-old bay/brown gelding
Weight:
53.5kg
Bred: New Zealand
Trainer: Paul Preusker (AUS)
Jockey: Jordan Childs (AUS)
Career record: 10:5-1-1
Barrier: 20
Odds: $15

Why he can win: Loves a distance race and flew down the outside to win the Bart Cummings last month to qualify for this race. Carries no weight and is in the care of one of Australia’s rising stars in the training ranks.

Why he can’t win: This is a big step up in class from the races he’s been contesting. The Adelaide Cup win in March told us that he was one to watch this spring, but he hasn’t really done anything to suggest he’s a definite Group 1 quality horse.

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Will he/won’t he: This horse is all about gut feel. Twenty years ago, before the race was inundated with overseas stayers, you would have marked him down as a classic Melbourne Cup horse trying to sneak under the handicapper’s radar. To think that this time last year he was running around in a maiden at Horsham says a lot about Surprise Baby’s progression. He’ll run home strongly late but might just miss out on the placings.

Predicted finish bracket: 7-12

Surprise Baby

(Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

19. Constantinople

Four-year-old bay entire
Weight:
52.5kg
Bred: Ireland
Trainers: David and Ben Hayes, Tom Dabernig (AUS)
Jockey: Joao Moreira (BRA)
Career record: 9:2-4-1
Barrier: 7
Odds: $8

Why he can win: Caught the eye with a brilliant run in the Caulfield Cup and perhaps could have won with a bit more luck. Carries a featherweight and has the services of champion jockey Joao Moreira, who is desperate to add a Cup to his CV.

Why he can’t win: Can he stay? It’s one thing to be an eye-catching run in the Caulfield Cup, it’s another to be able to sprint from the clocktower at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November. His two career wins have been over 1600m and 2000m.

Will he/won’t he: I was originally going to risk him and have him just outside my top six, but the scratching of Marmelo by stewards elevated him. Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win, but he’s just worth risking as one of the top fancies and a horse that is unproven at the distance.

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Predicted finish bracket: 1-6

20. Il Paradiso

Four-year-old chestnut entire
Weight:
52.5kg
Bred: United States
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien (IRE)
Jockey: Wayne Lordan (IRE)
Career record: 8:2-2-2
Barrier: 17
Odds: $17

Why he can win: Comes with a similar profile to the last two Melbourne Cup winners, Cross Counter and Rekindling – a young European stayer with a lightweight. Like those two, Il Paradiso is a northern hemisphere three-year-old. Is lightly raced and has shown enormous potential abroad.

Why he can’t win: His two career wins haven’t been at a high level and while he’s been competitive in some big races, just doesn’t have the runs on the board in elite company. Also hasn’t had a run here, so might not like our style of racing, which can be run at a muddling speed.

Will he/won’t he: I’m going to put my reputation on the line and say that this horse isn’t going to win the Melbourne Cup and will most likely struggle in his Australian debut. He’s not as tough as I’d like for a Melbourne Cup prodigy. Talent only gets you so far and I’m willing to risk him in this high-pressure race. You can decide for yourself, but he’ll flounder when the heat goes on.

Predicted finish bracket: 13-18

21. Steel Prince

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Six-year-old bay gelding
Weight:
52.5kg
Bred: Ireland
Trainer: Anthony Freedman (AUS)
Jockey: Brett Prebble (AUS)
Career record: 21:8-5-1
Barrier: 16
Odds: $67

Why he can win: Carries a featherweight and has experienced jockey Brett Prebble in the saddle, who will be keen to finish his career on a high.

Why he can’t win: Won his way into the race with a win in the Andrew Ramsden Stakes, falling in by a nose. Hasn’t fired a shot since and was disappointing in the Geelong Cup.

Will he/won’t he: He probably has no chance, but a good run wouldn’t surprise, simply because he’s been locked in for this race since May and Anthony Freedman has been given the chance to set a path for him that doesn’t require him to win races. I have him in the second half of the field, but don’t be shocked if he sneaks into fifth or sixth.

Predicted finish bracket: 13-18

22. The Chosen One

Four-year-old bay entire
Weight:
52kg
Bred: New Zealand
Trainers: Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman (NZ)
Jockey: Tim Clark (AUS)
Career record: 12:3-3-2
Barrier: 18
Odds: $101

Why he can win: Won the Herbert Power in impressive fashion, beating home Prince Of Arran, a horse that ran third in the Melbourne Cup last year.

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Why he can’t win: Was outsprinted and outclassed in the Caulfield Cup and has only gained a start in the Cup on the back of ‘natural attrition’. Drew barrier 18, which is a nightmare for superstitious punters. No horse has ever won from that gate.

Will he/won’t he: This Kiwi is a horse on the rise and one to watch going forward, but he might not be brilliant enough to win a Melbourne Cup. Expect him to settle back in the field and be saved for a big run, but he’ll be racing past tired horses more than running past contenders. On his staying ability, I have him finishing midfield, but he won’t win.

Predicted finish bracket: 13-18

23. Vow And Declare

Four-year-old chestnut gelding
Weight:
52kg
Bred: Australia
Trainer: Danny O’Brien (AUS)
Jockey: Craig Williams (AUS)
Career record: 12:3-3-2
Barrier: 21
Odds: $10

Why he can win: A lightly raced type who has snuck his way into this field with a lightweight. Ran second in the Caulfield Cup and many would argue he would have won the race if it was an extra 100m.

Why he can’t win: His three wins to date have been in a maiden at Warrnambool, a restricted race at Flemington and a Group 3 in Brisbane. None of those are great Melbourne Cup indicators.

Will he/won’t he: He’ll run an enormous race providing Craig Williams looks after him. If he gets knocked around in traffic he might spit the dummy and fail to finish off, but if he gets a sweet run in transit he’s going to be powering home in the final stages. Whether he’s got the class to win a big race like this just yet remains to be seen, but he’s well-weighted and has been aimed for this assignment. One for the exotics.

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Predicted finish bracket: 1-6

Vow and Declare

(Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

24. Youngstar

Five-year-old bay mare
Weight:
52kg
Bred: Australia
Trainer: Chris Waller (AUS/NZ)
Jockey: Tommy Berry (AUS)
Career record: 21:4-1-4
Barrier: 9
Odds: $51

Why she can win: Ran sixth in this race last year when she was a pretty juvenile mare and has since been aimed at a Melbourne Cup preparation. Did her best work late in the St Leger at Randwick a couple of weeks ago, which suggests she’s primed for a big run.

Why she can’t win: Hasn’t won a race in open company before. Her four wins were as a three-year-old and they all came in a row. She went from a maiden at Hawkesbury to winning the Queensland Oaks at Doomben. She’s had 16 starts since for zero wins.

Will she/won’t she: She’s a really nice mare but there’s not a lot of races for her on the Australian calendar. She’s not classy enough to win over the middle distances and she’s not good enough to be winning here. The Sydney and Adelaide Cups are more in her wheelhouse. I’ve put her in the bottom bracket but she could still finish midfield.

Predicted finish bracket: 19-24

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Summary

The Melbourne Cup is always one of the toughest races to predict each year and it seems to be getting harder and harder with the internationals dominating the field.

A handful of horses stand out this year as being better than the rest, so it’s just a matter of luck that will determine the winner. These horses, in racebook order, are a winning chance: Cross Counter, Mer De Glace, Prince Of Arran, Downdraft and Constantinople.

I was all over Japanese horse Mer De Glace before and after the Caulfield Cup, even with the question marks over the 3200m ability, but the rain has made me wary. Japanese horses do most of their racing on rock hard tracks.

With all the factors to consider, I’m leaning towards Saturday’s winner Downdraft to back up and claim the Cup. He will handle the conditions and the race is going to be run at a strong enough tempo for him to be powering at the finish.

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You’ll notice I’ve risked a few fancied hopes, notably Il Paradiso and Surprise Baby. One thing that’s guaranteed in the Melbourne Cup is that a popular runner will flop and a roughie will run a huge race. Best of luck if you’re having a flutter.

Prediction

1. Downdraft
2. Mer De Glace
3. Prince Of Arran
4. Cross Counter

Suggested bet: Downdraft each-way.