Refreshed after a couple of weeks away from the racing circuit, I’m back in the saddle this weekend as the industry returns to the major tracks.
One of the most popular events on the Australian sporting calendar, the Melbourne Cup draws tipsters from far and wide as every man and his dog offer their thoughts on who will win.
Here on The Roar we’ve brought together five our of our best racing experts to give you their tips for the big race, but don’t forget to tell us below who you think will win, and we’ll reveal The Crowd’s tips at 2pm AEDT, an hour before the race.
Backing proven horses in the Melbourne Cup is not always a ticket to success – just last year Cross Counter won the race when first-up in the country – but it is still my preferred recipe for picking the winner.
This year’s race boasts 24 runners and five of them haven’t been seen in Australia. Some of them are highly fancied in the market.
While I’m not putting a line through their names, I feel like none of them stand out enough to be tipping them to beat horses that we’ve seen in the flesh here.
I’m tipping Downdraft based on what we saw on Saturday. He won in the conditions in a known lead-up race. Winners of the Lexus/Hotham have good form when it comes to performing in the Cup and I think he’ll run well again for connections at generous each-way odds.
2. Mer De Glace
3. Prince Of Arran
4. Cross Counter
I’m inclined to think the winner will come from the Caulfield Cup this year, and while we have the top six from that race here, I’m going with the horses than ran second and fourth, which is Vow and Declare and Constantinople respectively.
They are both young and progressive, improving each time we see them, and both will relish Flemington. I’m a little bit concerned about wet ground for Vow and Declare, and Constantinople has the better barrier, so I’m putting the latter on top.
I’m risking Mer De Glace and Mirage Dancer given they are both unproven over longer than 2400m. Finche is one of my five winning chances after running fourth in the Melbourne Cup last year and fifth in the Caulfield Cup.
Hunting Horn is the best value in the race, coming off his stylish Moonee Valley Cup win, and he does have respectable form around some of the world’s best horses including Enable and Magical. He beat Downdraft at Moonee Valley, and that horse won at Flemington on Saturday in strong fashion carrying a big weight. He’s right in the game too.
I can honestly say there are 17 horses that could win without surprising me. Good luck to all in sorting them out!
2. Vow And Declare
3. Hunting Horn
After Mer De Glace’s brilliant performance in the Caufield Cup and the sheer fact that he is the out-and-out class of this race, making a winning prediction for the Cup was easy. Finding the minor place-getters proved somewhat more difficult.
Cross Counter is a worry for me. Carrying an extra 6.5kg will probably prove a bridge too far. Downdraft won the Lexus on Saturday but backing up three days later must always be a question.
Some betting agencies are taking on Constantinople, feeling that the 3200 metres is something of a concern. I agree.
Prince of Arran and Finche have form over the distance and track, both cannot be counted out and Latrobe, Mustajeer, Mirage Dancer and Southern France are all quality overseas horses with serious pedigree.
They all have a chance if able to handle the new environment and run to their potential.
Perhaps the horse most likely to slip under the radar is Vow and Declare. Second in the Caufield Cup, it had more in the tank. Sadly, barrier 21 is no help and Latrobe fights a similar battle from 22.
In my view, that may destroy their hopes and makes the 2019 Melbourne Cup a race in six or seven horses. Below are the three that will fill the places come Tuesday.
1. Mer De Glace
3. Prince Of Arran
4. Mirage Dancer
Mer De Glace has been a favourite for the bookies in the leadup, and for good reason, with six wins in a row that culminated in the Caulfield Cup just over two weeks ago.
The main issue for the Japanese horse is distance, his last start at 2400 metres being the longest run of an 18-race career, so it will be a tough ask to make the famed 3200 distance for the Melbourne Cup.
British gelding Finche has been another to peak the interest of the market despite finishing a length and a half behind the aforementioned Mer De Glace at the Caulfield Cup in his last start.
The six-year-old turned plenty of heads at last years Melbourne Cup, finishing strong in fourth in what looked to be an even better result if not having to take a wider line on the track.
Twelve months on and a lot more experience on Australian soil has the Chris Waller-trained runner looking very good, this time with a much better barrier draw.
I’m picking Downdraft to sneak through undetected as an outside favourite, having won the Lexus Stakes recently by a good margin.
He’s carrying considerably less weight than usual and has strong results at longer distances where other horses in the field have less experience. Keep an eye on the Irish five-year-old.
Last year’s winner Cross Counter has had a mixed bag in the ensuing 12 months, but a previous winner is always dangerous on race day.
Loves the longer distance, but is carrying a considerable weight this time around so unlikely to win the same way he did last year. Certainly should be in the hunt though.
3. Mer De Glace
4. Cross Counter
It’s not the strongest edition of the Melbourne Cup, and I can’t see any reason why Cross Counter can’t go back to back.
He was a dominant winner last year in a much tougher race and he’s done nothing wrong back home in the Goodwood or the Irish St Leger.
He will appreciate a fast tempo and is the one to beat.
I’ve liked Surprise Baby since he won the Adelaide Cup over Top of the Range, who won the Bendigo Cup last week.
He was unlucky in the Andrew Ramsden when traveling wide for the entire trip and he was brilliant in the Bart Cummings last start.
He’s a potential superstar and is well overs in the market.
Downdraft has adapted brilliantly to Australian conditions. He ran two lengths off Southern France in the St Leger trial and he was brilliant when winning the Hotham on Saturday.
The query is obviously how he’ll handle the quick backup, but I like horses who are proven in Australia. He will run well.
Chris Waller is winning everything lately and I’ve chucked Youngstar in to run fourth. She’s hit form at the right time and she was unlucky in the St Leger last start.
She is bigger and stronger than last year, and she ran sixth in what was a better field than she will face this year. She draws perfectly and can run a very big race.
1. Cross Counter
2. Surprise Baby
Melbourne Cup expert tips and predictions
|Matt Nicholls||Cam Rose||Stuart Thomas|
|1. Downdraft||1. Constantinople||1. Mer De Glace|
|2. Mer De Glace||2. Vow And Declare||2. Finche|
|3. Prince Of Arran||3. Hunting Horn||3. Prince Of Arran|
|4. Cross Counter||4. Finche||4. Mirage Dancer|
|Connor Bennett||Will Cornwill||The Crowd|
|1. Finche||1. Cross Counter||?|
|2. Downdraft||2. Surprise Baby||?|
|3. Mer De Glace||3. Downdraft||?|
|4. Cross Counter||4. Youngstar||?|