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Sheeple




04 November 2014

Who will win the Melbourne Cup? Guide to the field, runners and riders

Protectionist looks like a good bet at Flemington but Willing Foe has a chance of upsetting the odds

Admire Rakti

Admire Rakti is one of the favourites for the big race.

Top-class stayer bidding to become the second Japanese-trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup following the 1-2 finish of Delta Blues and Pop Rock in 2006. Brought excellent form to Australia – notably a close-up fourth in the 2013 Japan Cup and a second to the brilliant Gold Ship – but the entire’s stocks lifted even further with his stunning Caulfield Cup win. Promoted to favourite on the back of that and every reason to think 3200m around the wide expanses of Flemington will suit better. His 0.5kg penalty for winning at Caulfield takes his impost to 58.5kg, and you have to go as far back as 1975 and Think Big for the last horse to carry that weight to victory. Still rates as the horse to beat. Odds: $5


Cavalryman
Godolphin UK inmate who is having his second attempt at the Melbourne Cup following a respectable midfield finish in 2012. That is reason to enough to doubt his chances on Tuesday, but Cavalryman seems in better form this time around. Was very good winning the Goodwood Cup over two miles two starts back; third in that race was Brown Panther, who ran very well in Fiorente’s cup last year. Nine-year-olds as a rule don’t win the Melbourne Cup, but stable has gone very close in the past to winning the cup and this horse is in form, likes the trip and is well-drawn. Reluctant to rule out entirely, but a place does look his best hope. Odds: $26


Fawkner
Ultra-consistent type who is attempting to stretch his brilliance to 3200m for the second time after registering a fine sixth in the 2013 renewal. Has always been a top performer but has taken his form to new level this spring, winning the Caulfield Stakes at weight-for-age before running a gallant second to Adelaide in the Cox Plate. The seven-year-old loves Flemington, won’t mind it wet or dry and is tactically versatile, so from gate nine has the option to go forward or back. Probably the best of the local hopes, but the nagging doubt is his ability to run out a strong two miles. Back him on both totes. Odds: $8.50


Red Cadeaux
Ed Dunlop’s international visitor has become a fixture at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November and this year will be lining up in his fourth Melbourne Cup. Has been runner-up in the race twice previously, beaten a lip by Dunaden in 2011 before running into Fiorente at big odds last year. Red Cadeaux has to defy the nine-year-olds hoodoo and his lead-up form is anything but inspiring, but he has turned it around suddenly before and has developed a habit of peaking for this race. Given the gelding’s run well in the race before he’s a must for trifectas and first fours, but it would be a surprise were he to emerge victorious. Odds: $17.00


Protectionist An intriguing runner bidding to become the first German-trained winner of the Melbourne Cup. Has only had nine starts so is very unexposed, but brings excellent form into the race all the same; is a multiple winner at pattern level, most recently in the Group 2 Prix Kergolay over 3000m at Deauville – the same race Americain won in 2010 before taking out the Melbourne Cup. Importantly, the five-year-old has had a preparation run in Australia, running on very well for fourth under 59kg in the Group 2 Herbert Power at Caulfield a little over three weeks ago. Expect him to come on greatly for that run. Has Cox Plate-winning jockey Ryan Moore aboard, is well drawn, seems fairly weighted and will handle the trip, so there’s a great deal to like about his chances. Definite winning hope. Odds: $7.50


Seismos
An international visitor from the Newmarket yard of Marco Botti, Seismos is a Group 1 winner over 2400m in Germany and a Group 3 winner of the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury two starts back. Is having his second start in Australia, but will need to improve markedly on his 15th in the Caulfield Cup to figure here. Looks a dour staying type so Seismos should find the line well enough, but doesn’t appear endowed with tactical speed so from barrier one it’s likely he’ll be midfield or worse on the rails and tapped for toe when the pace starts to quicken mid-race. A rough place chance but no better. Odds: $26


Junoob
Represents the all-conquering Chris Waller stable and that is reason enough to respect him. Certainly one of the race’s in-form runners, having won the Group 1 Metropolitan two starts back before not appearing to handle the track but still running well when seventh behind Admire Rakti in the Caulfield Cup. Meets that horse just half a kilogram better off at the weights for a beating of a little over two lengths, so would seem hard pressed to turn the tables on measures alone. Another knock is the fact no horse has won the Metropolitan-Melbourne Cup double since Macdougal in 1959. There also has to be some query over Junoob at two miles, so though he may run well it’s hard to rate him a genuine winning chance. Odds: $26


Royal Diamond is one of two runners trained by former top jockey Johnny Murtagh.

Royal Diamond
One of two runners trained by former top jockey Johnny Murtagh, Royal Diamond is one of three horses in 2014 attempting to become the first nine-year-old to win the Melbourne Cup. His form at home has been patchy at best, finishing well down the track in the Ascot Gold Cup over 4000m before rounding off his preparations with a distant sixth in the Irish St Leger (a race he won in 2012). Has won at the trip and is well drawn, but they are the only positives surrounded by a swathe of negatives. Odds: $51


Gatewood
Trained in England by John Gosden, Gatewood is no stranger to Australian racing having won the Geelong Cup in 2012 before a brief and unsuccessful campaign with Chris Waller last year. Nothing wrong with his recent form, having finished no further back than second in six starts this year (three wins), but he’s been racing on rain-affected going and is likely to encounter quicker conditions at Flemington. The owners, OTI Racing, have said Gatewood is the pick of their four runners, but he’s untried a the trip, is drawn wide in barrier 22 and seems to lack the turn of foot required to win a Melbourne Cup. Odds: $67


Mutual Regard
Johnny Murtagh’s other runner and clearly his better chance of victory. Is a remarkably consistent steed, having missed a place just three times in 17 lifetime starts (seven wins). Was quietly taken through his grades in England and Ireland before hitting a career peak when winning the rich Ebor Handicap at York at his most recent outing. No horse has won the Ebor-Melbourne Cup double though it has proven a fair guide over the years, with both Give The Slip (2001) and Purple Moon (2007) running second here after winning at York. Has only raced on good ground and he’ll get that at Flemington on Tuesday. Is in form, well drawn in 12, has multiple cup winner Damien Oliver doing the steering and is a winner over 3200m, so Mutual Regard ticks plenty of boxes. Rates highly. Odds: $13


Who Shot Thebarman
Another of Chris Waller’s and another of his imports, having been transferred to Sydney from New Zealand after an unsuccessful raid on the Sydney Cup back in April. Was well performed in his homeland, winning a string of good races including the Auckland Cup over 3200m. His tame effort behind The Offer when fancied in the Sydney Cup pours cold water on his chances here, but Waller seems to have taken this galloper’s form to another level this campaign. Won two consecutive races at Flemington, including the Group 3 Bart Cummings over 2500m, before flopping when 13th in the Caulfield Cup, though he was found to have respiratory issues so can be forgiven that failure. Back to Flemington is a positive and from gate 13 Glen Boss should be able to find a good spot for Who Shot Thebarman, so is one of the more likely outsiders. Odds: $26


Willing Foe
The other Godolphin entrant from Saeed Bin Suroor’s UK yard, Willing Foe is a lightly raced eight-year-old whose form ties in closely with some of the other raiders, having finished second behind Seismos in the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury (Red Cadeaux was fourth) before last start finishing fourth in a messy Irish St Leger (Royal Diamond sixth). Is having his first go at two miles (though he did win the 2012 Ebor Handicap over 2816m) and on recent form doesn’t look good enough, but this stable has done very well with similar types in the past so it would be unwise to dismiss his chances. Big odds but a forward showing wouldn’t surprise. Odds: $26


My Ambivalent
One of three participants representing the fairer sex, which has accounted for 16 victories in the Melbourne Cup (Makybe Diva in 2005 was the most recent). My Ambivalent brings layers of quality international form into the race, having finished a close-up third behind Japanese superstar Gentildonna at level weights in the Dubai Sheema Classic over 2400m in March and more recently placing in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom. Has been off the scene since June and worryingly had a setback which saw the mare miss her lead-up run in the Caulfield Cup. An interrupted preparation for a race of this nature is a genuine cause for concern and it really is guesswork that she will run out 3200m, so place looks best. Odds: $41


Precedence
Another nine-year-old and, along with Red Cadeaux, another lining up for a fourth assault on the Melbourne Cup. Precedence is thoroughly exposed and hasn’t managed to run a place in his three previous attempts in the race. There’s little to get excited about in his lead-up form, too, with a running-on fifth in the JRA Cup at Moonee Valley two starts back the pick of his recent runs. Trained by Cups king Bart Cummings (and now James Cummings, too), so inevitably will get some support on the day, but a midfield finish is the absolute best connections can hope for. Odds: $101


Brambles
Trained by Peter Moody (of Black Caviar fame), Brambles is a former winner of the Queensland Derby but is having his best preparation this time around. Beat Signoff four starts back over 1700m at Flemington before running third at the track in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes, followed by a creditable fourth in the Caulfield Cup when beaten just over a length. No more than a pipe-opener when ninth in the Mackinnon Stakes on Saturday, so on form Brambles has a chance but he’s drawn very wide in gate 21 and there must be a question mark over his ability to stay two miles at this level. Could run a brave race but can’t see him winning. Odds: $41


Mr O’Ceirin
One of the locals trying to repel the strong overseas invasion, but it’s really hard to get enthused about this one. Seems to have been up a very long time and there’s nothing in his form that suggests you should back him in a Melbourne Cup. Suspect at the two miles and has never won on the good going he’s likely to encounter on Tuesday. A great big ‘NO’. Odds: $151


Au Revoir
Trained in France by master handler Andre Fabre, earning this horse respect points on that basis alone. Is a lightly raced five-year-old, having had just 14 starts, and wasn’t far away when fourth behind the very well-performed Ruler Of The World at Longchamp before venturing out to Australia. Has had the one local run, running a gutsy third in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup after leading. Likely to find Flemington more to his liking and though he’s never been tried over 3200m, it wouldn’t be a shock if he handled the journey. Has been done no favours by the barrier draw, but with a kind run Au Revoir is capable of filling a hole at odds. Odds: $41


Lidari
Another of Peter Moody’s, Lidari has had a classic preparation for the Melbourne Cup, running with distinction in the Underwood Stakes (at weight-for-age), Turnbull Stakes and Caulfield Cup – all at Group 1 level. His form ties in nicely around fancied runner Lucia Valentina, having been beaten a half a length by that mare in the Turnbull; he now meets her one-and-a-half kilograms better at the weights in this race. It’s been a little while since he’s won and he’s not certain to relish 3200m, but he’s well drawn in barrier 10, lightly weighted and in good form, so capable of running well at decent odds. Odds: $41


Opinion
Another of Chris Waller’s imports, Opinion is no stranger at two miles having run second (though well beaten) to The Offer in the Sydney Cup earlier this year. Has been going along well enough this preparation without winning, his close second to Junoob in the Metropolitan his best run this time in. His fifth in the Moonee Valley Cup when favourite was disappointing on face value, but Flemington will suit better and stamina does look to be his forte so prepared to afford him a rough place chance at a big price. Opinion’s chances would be enhanced by a spot or two of rain, but that seems unlikely. Odds: $67


Araldo
This sparingly raced seven-year-old (15 starts) has been brought along steadily this campaign and looks to be peaking for this run. Nothing at all wrong with his lead-up form, including strong running-on efforts in the Metropolitan and Caulfield Cup. Outside of Admire Rakti his was arguably the run of the race at Caulfield. Has never raced at 3200m but has won at 2800m and is certainly bred to appreciate the marathon journey. The big drawback is his draw on the extreme outside; jockey Dwayne Dunn will have no option but to drop back and hope for luck as he tries to pinch runs. Trainer Mike Moroney won the cup with Brew in 2000 from a similarly bad draw, and if the breaks go Araldo’s way he can bely his position in the market. Odds: $21


Lucia Valentina
A leading local contender and one of just three mares in the Melbourne Cup, Lucia Valentina has been near the top of the market ever since resuming with a stunning victory in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes over 1400m at Randwick in September. The four-year-old’s been very good since then, too, running on strongly to beat Lidari in the Turnbull before producing an eye-catching performance to swoop into third place in the Caulfield Cup. She was taking ground off Admire Rakti late in that race, so her supporters will be optimistic of her staying two miles at the first time of asking. The fact remains, however, that she’s never won past 2000m. Has a good alley in number two and brings the right form into the race so must be given a chance, but not sure she represents value at the current price. Odds: $7


Unchain My Heart
Cemented her place in the line-up when Green Moon was scratched on Saturday morning, meaning trainer David Hayes (and Tom Dabernig) could scratch from the Lexus Stakes and focus on the Melbourne Cup. Well beaten in the Caulfield Cup and there’s nothing in her prior form to suggest this eight-year-old is capable of winning a Melbourne Cup. Thus she will start at massive odds, but it must be said there are some factors in her favour: she loves Flemington (four wins at the track), will get a good run from barrier five, will get the firm going she needs and stays all day (is two from three at 3200m). So while class is an obvious issue, don’t be surprised if Unchain My Heart finishes in front of some of her more-fancied rivals. Odds: $201


Signoff
Rocketed into Melbourne Cup calculations with an impressive victory in Saturday’s Lexus Stakes, the same race Shocking won in 2009 before annexing the big one the following Tuesday. Like Shocking, Signoff was very strong at the end of 2500m and gets into the Melbourne Cup with a luxurious weight of just 51kg. He’s been taken along slowly this preparation by trainer Darren Weir with one race in mind, so there’s a sense of timing about Signoff and undoubtedly he will be at his peak in the cup. With just 13 starts under his belt (for seven wins) it’s unlikely we’ve seen the best of him yet, so as a lightly raced stayer on the way up he deserves the utmost respect. Will push forward from barrier 16 under star international jockey Joao Moreira and is sure to give his backers a great sight. Odds: $8



bigwallbling.com predictions

  1. Fawkner
  2. Protectionist
  3. Admire Rakti