Without a Fight completed the rare Caulfield Cup-Melbourne Cup double on Tuesday as star jockey Mark Zahra went back-to-back in the big one after…
Melbourne Cup day is here again, and it’s never anything less than exciting.
The Cup itself will of course be full of drama and intrigue: there looks to be a strong handful of top-tier chances this year, but up to a dozen secondary chances that can all lay claims to a top five finish and sneaking a place.
Be sure to read our runner-by-runner preview here, to check out the pros and cons for each horse in the great race.
But there are also another nine races on the Flemington card on Tuesday. Let’s see if we can find you a winner.
RACE 1 – MARIBYRNONG PLATE, 1000m
The two-year-olds kick off Cup day as they always do, with eight youngsters set to tackle the Flemington straight, five of them on debut.
Race experience is so often the key for juveniles, as like foor any human endeavour, you learn more from doing than training.
Admitted is the only horse in the field to have a win to his name, a stylish performance when leading all the way at Bendigo on debut. He’s been the subject of some early backing to make it two in a row.
The best two-year-old performance in Melbourne this season was probably Bodyguard’s win down the straight here. Dublin Down was fourth to him there, and then second behind Admitted in the aforementioned race. It should all tie together to make them competitive.
Blake Shinn being booked for Odinson could be a hint that the Maher/Eustace camp mean business with this son of Night of Thunder. Blue Stratum is the early favourite, and the McEvoys do know how to produce a good juvenile, so he must be respected from a good draw to find the fence.
1. Admitted 2. Odinson 3. Blue Statrum 4. Dublin Down
RACE 2 – FURPHY PLATE, 1800m
We usually see a much bigger field for the Furphy Plate, and it’s often the race right after the Melbourne Cup, but a small bunch of acceptors this year has it earlier in the day.
Pounding has been racing in elite company at his last seven starts, mixing it with some of the best horses in Australia. This is a significant drop back in class, and although he has the big weight here, he should still be able to prove too good.
Forgot You hasn’t been far behind Pounding when they’ve met twice this prep, and does get a weight advantage from those races into this. He’s not the most genuine type however, and a slight drop back in distance might not be ideal for him.
Mr Maestro could be the value play. This is a nice set-up for him, hitting his pet distance of 1800m second-up, dropping 4.5kg’s in weight from his last start in the Moonga. He wasn’t far off the in-form Buffalo River last start.
Sibaaq is honest as the day is long, and has been in good form in these types of races, but he’d need another win to convince me.
1. Pounding 2. Forgot You 3. Mr Maestro 4. Sibaaq
RACE 3 – TAB TROPHY, 1800m
The Tab Trophy is another 1800m race, this time for the three-year-olds.
Aztec State is the short-priced favourite, hitting this race at its third career start. His debut win was in a hot maiden that has produced multiple subsequent winners. Second up he was a solid third behind Mojave Desert, who has been competitive with Caulfield Guineas winner Griff, and Erso, who ran so well in the Carbine Club on Derby Day.
Queen of Dragons looks the logical danger, coming down from Sydney, a formula we have seen work so well this spring. She’s been running well in decent races, should relish this weaker affair, and has drawn perfectly.
Binotto could be the value play at double figures, despite still being eligible for maiden races. He just keeps running into some smart types every time he steps out, and this might be the weakest race he’s struck yet.
Savatoff was third behind Aztec State two starts back, and has since won himself. The step up to 1800m looks suitable.
1. Aztec State 2. Queen of Dragons 3. Binotto 4. Savatoff
RACE 4 – SCHWEPPERVESCENCE PLATE, 1000m
The Schweppervescence Plate sees another group of three-year-olds take to the Flemington track, this time down the straight course of 1000m.
Barber is the class runner of the field, 11 ratings points higher than his nearest rival. He was arguably the run of the race in the Heritage, which was won by subsequent Coolmore Stud Stakes winner Ozzmosis. He was just okay second-up, but strikes this third-up now, a month between runs.
Perilous Fighter is enormous odds based on his Gothic Stakes run when third to Arkansaw Kid. That horse ran fourth in the Coolmore, so the form is sound.
Stanislas is coming along nicely for the Godolphin camp. He was okay himself in the Heritage Stakes, but it was an inferior run to Barber. He showed great to fight to win last start, beating Way To The Stars and Doull, who have both since won again.
Jewel Bay could pop up as an each-way play, coming off an easy win at Cranbourne, and he also was close-up behind the high quality colt Scentify earlier in his prep.
1. Barber 2. Perilous Fighter 3. Stanislas 4. Jewel Bay
RACE 5 – THE MACCA’S RUN, 2800m
The 2800m race is the secondary staying event of the day, and has been on the Melbourne Cup card for as long as anyone can remember.
Mr Waterville looks the obvious horse to beat. He was $12 in the Group 1 Metropolitan, but dropped out of the race when something was amiss. He was always likely to bounce back in the Geelong Cup, and duly did so to only go down by half a length. He was around and in front of several Cup hopefuls there, and this is far lesser grade.
Insulation is the stayer on the rise, the five-year old having only had seven career starts. He’s started in red figures at three of his last four starts, winning two of them. 2800m looks like it should be up his alley, and no doubt connections will be hoping to be running on this day next year.
Garachico could be the one to pop up at double figure odds. He’s been chasing some up-and-coming stayers like First Immortal and King’s Crossing, and drops a whopping 9.5kgs from his last run into this race.
King’s Crossing is also here, but only dropping 3.5kgs from his last start win at Geelong. His run behind First Immortal here over 2500m back in June would go very close to winning this.
1. Mr Waterville 2. Insulation 3. Garachico 4. King’s Crossing
RACE 6 – SUBZERO HANDICAP, 1400m
The Subzero Handicap is a time-honoured race over the Flemington carnival, for grey horses only, which adds a bit of fun to the day. It’s run over 1400m, a distance where the barrier draw can be all-important. A nice run from a cosy draw can often be the difference between winning and losing.
Glint of Silver has been kept fresh for this assignment, first-up since the middle of September when he dropped out after leading the Cameron Handicap along. If he can reproduce his 1400m run at Rosehill behind Pericles in August, he can win this.
Berkshire Breeze is the interesting runner and early favourite, having his first run in the country. This is a 1400m contest, but all his best form in Europe is over 2400m. The market should tell the story on race day as to whether he’ll have enough sprint in his legs to take this out.
Prince Jofra comes across from Adelaide, where he keeps winning. He has jumped the border a couple of times already this campaign, to try and raid some country cups. He’s hard fit, and Damien Oliver is sure to give him a great ride from a sticky draw.
Love Tap has a big weight, and is an enigmatic galloper that won this race last year. He did enough first-up at 1200m, and should be ready to put up a better performance up to 1400m now.
1. Glint of Silver 2. Berkshire Breeze 3. Prince Jofra 4. Love Tap
RACE 7 – MELBOURNE CUP, 3200m
Soulcombe has looked great all spring, in what has been a more classic Melbourne Cup preparation. He won the Heatherlie first-up, showing an outstanding turn-of-foot, and has continued to finish strongly in high quality races like the Underwood, Turnbull and Caulfield Cup.
Many international form experts suggest Vauban is one of the best stayers ever brought out for the Cup. He beat stablemate Absurde, also here, by seven and a half lengths two starts ago, and that horse came out and won the Ebor Handicap, which has always been a strong guide. He then beat Valiant King last time out, and we saw that horse run well without luck in the Caulfield Cup.
Lastotchka is the most lightly raced horse in the field, which has been a good formula for previous international winners of the Cup like Cross Counter and Rekindling. She brings a nice recipe to this year’s race after winning at Group 3 level over 3100m in France last start, and Craig Williams is a big race rider that has won the great race before.
Without A Fight has won three of four starts in 2023, including the Caulfield Cup last time out. That was a fast run race, and he was too strong for fellow Melbourne Cup aspirants Gold Trip, Soulcombe, Breakup, Right You Are and Okita Sushi. He’s in hot form, has the class, and no-one is riding better than Mark Zahra right now.
1. Soulcombe 2. Vauban 3. Lastotchka 4. Without A Fight
RACE 8 – DESIRABLE STAKES, 1400m
The Desirable Stakes sees the three-year-old fillies tackle the 1400m course.
Facile has finished in the top two in five of her six career starts. Her first-up win over Joliestar was franked when that horse placed at Listed level at her next start. Facile then ran second to Arkansaw Kid, who just ran fourth in the Group 1 Coolmore on Derby Day. Facile will go forward, and should be very hard to beat at a lovely each-way quote.
Joliestar is also here, and can certainly have an impact if Joao Moreira can weave some magic from the second widest barrier.
Kimochi is the class runner, having run consistently well in the Sydney Princess Series through August and September. She’s five weeks between runs, but the query is whether she will still be able to hold the form from earlier in her campaign.
Commemorative is the favourite, and while she’s no doubt a smart type, does appear under the odds in the early markets. She was carrying 7.5kgs less than the winner last start, but did endure a wide run and kept coming.
1. Facile 2. Kimochi 3. Joliestar 4. Commemorative
RACE 9 – HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB STAKES, 1400m
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes sees the mares do battle over 1400m, a popular distance on Cup day.
Madame Pommery looked sensational first-up, before only being plain in strong races at her next two, but was back to her best last time out in the Tristarc. She arguably should have won that race, finishing hard from the tail but getting unlucky. She should have nothing but clear air from a wide draw this time.
La Danseuse Rouge is proving ever-consistent in this type of grade, and is drawn to take some beating here. He last start run behind She Dances, who is a classy mare, goes very close to winning this.
Cardigan Queen has been running in the same races as La Danseuse Rouge, winning two starts back and finishing a good fourth behind She Dances in the Northwood Plume.
Kazou has been picking her way through the grades with astute placement from the Waller camp, and deserves her chance at some black type now. She’ll go forward and spend no petrol from barrier two.
1. Madame Pommery 2. La Daneuse Rouge 3. Kazou 4. Cardian Queen
RACE 10 – PARAMOUNT+ TROPHY
The last race on Cup day is another 1400m contest.
Chorlton Lane is the favourite for the last event, an improving four-year-old that has only had seven starts. His last start third jumps off the page, given Vienna Princess was the winner of that race. She has since won the Silver Eagle and been beaten two lengths in the Golden Eagle. It’s elite form.
Dubai Poet has been good in his first Australian preparation, and had no luck last start. He puts himself in the race, and has drawn well to control the race here.
Substantial has drawn gate 17, which will work against him, but he has form behind the right horses for this kind of race. He was good first up, and will improve into his second-up performance. His second to Antino back in April says he can win at double figure odds here.
Rise of the Masses has come back a nice four-year old, winning first up, and only a couple of lengths behind the in-form Sequestered second-up. He carried huge weights in those two assignments, and will enjoy significant weight relief here. Look for him to ping across from out wide.
1. Chorlton Lane 2. Dubai Poet 3. Substantial 4. Rose of the Masses