2020 Melbourne Cup Runner-by-Runner Preview
The 2020 Lexus Melbourne Cup is upon us and all eyes will be glued to Flemington on Tuesday for ‘the race that stops a nation’.
Our form experts Tim Geers and Trent Crebbin have teamed up to bring you the most comprehensive form guide available for the Melbourne Cup, including their speed map, profiles for each horse, form comments, selections and their betting strategy for the race.
Expect this to be run at a solid tempo with the Lloyd Williams-owned Master Of Reality and Twilight Payment both going forward. They’ll be joined by Dashing Willoughby from out wide, potentially along with Oceanex. Prince Of Arran will kick up from barrier 1 to obtain the box seat, Anthony Van Dyck will settle much further forward today from barrier 3, and Finche should find a good spot. Of the others, Sir Dragonet and Surprise Baby may be able to hold a spot in midfield. Russian Camelot is expected to be ridden much quieter stepping up to two miles from barrier 16, while the current favourite Tiger Moth will go back from his wide draw. Ashrun is another who draws wide in gate 24 and may have to go back to last.
1. Anthony Van Dyck
The Aidan O’Brien-trained five-year-old took the scalp of arguably the world’s best stayer Stradivarius at Paris Longchamp two starts ago, before carrying top weight in the Caulfield Cup a month later. He drew barrier 17 on that occasion and while many had thought he would position forward in the run, Hugh Bowman elected to go back and come wide on the turn. His run was enormous, eventually going down a nose to Verry Elleegant who he meets 0.5kg better at the weights today. There is little doubt he will run the trip, and he gets a lovely barrier draw in 3 here, so expect him to be more forward in the run. The obvious query is the weight – not since Makybe Diva won her third Melbourne Cup have we seen a horse carry upwards of 58kg. On form he has to be respected but can he carry 58.5kg to victory?
Trent: Historically it’s much easier to perform with big weights in the Caulfield Cup rather than the Melbourne Cup. He’s a world class stayer who maps beautifully and can win despite the 58.5kg.
Tim: I agree with Trent that historically, horses can carry weight better in the Caulfield Cup than the Melbourne Cup. His form is outstanding, not only here in the Caulfield Cup but prior to that in Europe. Has to be respected but the weight is the negative for me.
Avilius ran a great race last start in the Caulfield Cup after being held up quite badly around the turn. He arguably should’ve run 3rd in that race on his preferred wet ground, which he won’t get here. His runs this prep in Sydney have been mixed, and whilst he did run well in the Hill Stakes over 2000m two starts ago, I’m not sure if that’s the strongest form. He ran in this race two years ago but was severely hampered by a broken down horse. There’s nothing to suggest that 3200m will be an issue, but with 57kg on a firm surface it’s hard to make a case for him.
Trent: Probably should’ve run 3rd in the Caulfield Cup, but can’t see him turning the tables on Anthony Van Dyck or Verry Elleegant, especially on a good track at 3200m.
Tim: I think it’s hard to say he won’t run the 3200m given his only attempt was back in 2018 when a horse broke down and he copped the backwash just 400m into the race. He had no luck in the Caulfield Cup but I struggle to see him running in the top four here with that weight on a firm track.
3. Vow And Declare
Last year’s Melbourne Cup winner has been targeted at this race ever since his victory last year, but he’s looked well below his best in his past five outings. His first run back from winning the Cup was a very sound effort in the Australian Cup over 2000m here at Flemington, but since then he’s failed to finish any better than 5th. He comes into this having been beaten just shy of 9L in the Caulfield Cup.
Trent: Not going nearly as well as last year and with 57kg he can’t win.
Tim: Has been very ordinary this preparation and both Craig Williams and Damien Oliver have chosen to give up the ride on him. Can’t win.
4. Master Of Reality
He went very close in last year’s Melbourne Cup, sitting outside the leader but just getting nosed out for 2nd, which was then relegated to 4th on protest. His form since then in the UK has been solid, with consecutive defeats to stablemate Twilight Payment, before a very narrow defeat in the group 3 Irish St Leger trial. He dropped back to listed grade over 2816m last start, which was just a month ago, and bolted in as the $1.50 favourite. He looks to be going just as well as he was last year, but this is a stronger Melbourne Cup. Melham should be able to roll forward and give him every chance, but whether he has the class to actually win is up for debate, especially on a firm surface upon which he is yet to win.
Trent: Perhaps better suited to Australian racing than his stablemate and comes here in great form. Had every chance last year but this is a stronger race – top 5 chance for sure.
Tim: Follows a very similar path to this year’s race after going down narrowly last year, and carries a similar weight. Has been aimed at this all along and looks a very good chance.
5. Sir Dragonet
Sir Dragonet comes into the Melbourne Cup as one of the favourites after a dominant win in the Cox Plate 10 days ago. That was his first start for the Maher/Eustace stable and his form in Europe prior to that was also very good. While he won over 2500m on debut, he’s never been tested at this distance range, and he did fail over 2900m in the St Leger at Doncaster back in September last year. While his Cox Plate win was very good, the query here is both the distance and the track conditions. All of his best form has been on rain-affected ground, while he’s placed just once on good ground, and that was in a three-horse race.
Trent: Huge win in the Cox Plate which is a form line I rate. Most of his form is at 2000m, and if this were only 2400m he’d be very hard to beat. 3200m on a good surface might see him out, but if he stays, he’ll be very hard to beat.
Tim: I’m against Trent here and I’ll be very happy to take Sir Dragonet on. His best form has all been over shorter distances than this and he’s done nothing of note on firm surfaces. All his best form is on wet ground, so with the track likely be a Good 3 for the Cup, he won’t be suited.
6. Twilight Payment
Joseph O’Brien’s other chance in the race seems to be going very well this campaign after a slightly disappointing 11th in last year’s race. He was caught wide for the first part of the race and worked early to find the front over his stablemate which told late as he faded to be beaten 3.8L by Vow And Declare. Since then, he’s raced 5 times for 2 wins, including a dominant 8 length victory over Master Of Reality in the group 2 Curragh Cup. His most recent run was very good too, finishing 3rd behind Search For A Song after racing wide. That’s strong form and even as an 8yo he’s certainly not going backwards. Jye Mcneil is riding well, but this will be very tough. A good track won’t pose an issue and he’s not without a chance for exotics.
Trent: Has the wood over Master Of Reality overseas but was disappointing last year. Likes good tracks and despite appearing as the stable’s #2 seed, he’s not hopeless.
Tim: Finished midfield last year after leading from a wide gate, but his form leading into this year’s race looks much better to my eye. He caned Master Of Reality by 8L two starts ago yet finds himself a longer price here. Have to include.
7. Verry Elleegant
This five-year-old mare is a superstar and brought up her sixth victory at Group 1 level in the Caulfield Cup, defeating Anthony Van Dyck. She meets him 0.5kg worse off at the weights here. There has to be some query at the distance, purely because she’s never run beyond 2400m before, and the firm ground is also against her. She got ideal conditions in the Caulfield Cup and she won’t get them again today, however it’s hard to knock a mare with three Group 1 victories from four starts this preparation.
Trent: She’s a star this mare and despite not settling I can’t see 3200m posing an issue. The firm track is the issue and I have a few ahead of her here. She’ll give her all and likely run top 6, but she won’t be a winner for me.
Tim: I have to oppose her today. She got conditions in her favour in the Caulfield Cup but she’ll get a bone-dry track today and while I think she will probably run 3200m, I can’t be certain on that. 55.5kg for a mare isn’t a light weight either.
Mustajeer easily outran his SP in the Caulfield Cup, finishing 8th beaten 3.9L as an $101 chance. His form prior this campaign certainly left a bit to be desired, however. All his runs this prep prior to last start were on good tracks and he wasn’t letting down properly at all, and he comes into this year’s Melbourne Cup in far worse form than last year, where he finished 23rd. His best puts him somewhere in the mix, and he draws to do no work in barrier 2, but it’s hard to see him improving enough to feature in the top 10.
Trent: Ran a much-improved race last start but isn’t going well enough to win and would need a soft track to be anywhere near the finish.
Tim: Might run top 10 but he’s not a winning chance.
9. Stratum Albion
Irish trainer Willie Mullins sends Stratum Albion over for this year’s Melbourne Cup. The eight-year-old has mixed his racing between flat and jumps, which isn’t unusual from this stable. We’ve seen them go close in this race previously with Max Dynamite, who ran 2nd in 2015 and then 3rd in 2017, carrying 54kg and 55kg respectively. He was also a hurdler, and this horse has a similar profile and carries a similar weight. He’s won up to 3600m before so the distance will be no issue, and his latest run in the G2 Lonsdale Cup at York was very good.
Trent: No question on his stamina – he’ll run the trip, just not as quickly as a few of these. His run last start behind Enbihaar was very good, but he started $21 to Dashing Willoughby’s $3.30. Not a bad top 10 bet because he’ll stay all day.
Tim: Simply must include in everything. This stable doesn’t send them out to make up the numbers and they’ve gone very well with Max Dynamite in the past, who profiled similarly to this horse. $51 is a good price.
10. Dashing Willoughby
Dashing Willoughby has been touted as a Melbourne Cup horse for a while now after back to back wins in listed and group 3 company in the UK to start the prep, before running 4th to quality stayer Enbihaar in the group 2 Lonsdale Cup Stakes. Perhaps he’s a better horse when leading and grinding along in front, because he has no turn of foot, but other than that he did every chance in that race and was soundly beaten by Stratum Albion despite starting much shorter in the market than that horse. Even still, he would’ve had to be considered a rough hope before coming to Australia and running in the Caulfield Cup. The problem is, he was awful in that race with no major excuses. He led the field and despite not jumping very well, he was the first horse beaten at the 800m mark and finished dead last, beaten 27 lengths by Verry Elleegant. The step up to 3200m is a huge tick and he’ll roll forward, but without a turn of foot he’s very much a horse you have to take on trust.
Trent: Best form would give him an each way chance and the step up to 2 miles will suit but is impossible to have off his Caulfield Cup run.
Tim: His past two starts have been very disappointing but his form prior to that was very good. He would need to improve enormously off what he showed in the Caulfield Cup but his best form would see him be competitive.
Finche returns for his third crack at a Melbourne Cup, having run 4th in 2018 and 7th last year. He’s had a nice preparation for this year’s race, with consecutive 3rd placings in the Chelmsford and Turnbull Stakes, before a luckless run in the Caulfield Cup last time out. He sat three-wide without cover throughout and was still there in the finish, beaten just 2.5L by Verry Elleegant and Anthony Van Dyck. Funnily enough, he had the same wide run in last year’s Caulfield Cup leading into the Melbourne Cup. He draws well in barrier 6 for the powerful Waller/McDonald combination.
Trent: I’ve never been with him and won’t be here. He’ll run well as he always does, but he lacks the turn of foot to win the race. Finished 7th last year and that looks about right again in a tougher race.
Tim: Big run in the Caulfield Cup last start and he hasn’t been far away in his other two attempts at this race. I think he’s a solid each way chance and I expect him to finish in the first six or so, but likely to find a few too sharp.
12. Prince Of Arran
Fan favourite Prince Of Arran returns for a 3rd attempt at the race that stops a nation and he comes into it as a genuine winning chance. For whatever reason, this horse just grows an extra leg in Australia, and his overseas form should be largely ignored. He ran a credible 3rd behind Enable (beaten 7.25L) in the group 3 September Stakes two starts ago, and also ran 3rd four starts ago in the group 3 Sagaro Stakes behind Nayef Road. It’s his form in Australia that puts him right in contention- he ran a huge race last start in the Caulfield Cup, coming home from last at the 800m mark to finish 4th, beaten 2L and running the fastest last 400m and 200m of the race. In fact, he was the only horse in the race to break 12 seconds for his last 200m. It’s well documented that he’s run 3rd (behind Cross Counter) and 2nd (behind Vow And Declare) in his two Melbourne Cup attempts, but the difference this year is that he was assured of a start all along and comes into this year’s race 2nd up. The last two years he’s had to have another run to win his way in, so the set up does look more ideal this year. Jamie Kah takes the ride, which is an upgrade on regular jockey Michael Walker, and he should really land in the box seat from barrier one. He’s a top chance to go one better this year and has to be in your numbers.
Trent: Kah on from barrier 1 has to be a positive. He ran an enormous race in the Caulfield Cup and importantly comes here 2nd up. If he gets the gaps, he’s a legitimate chance to go one better than last year.
Tim: He’s run exceptionally well in his other two attempts at the Melbourne Cup and he comes into this year’s race off a slashing run in the Caulfield Cup. He’s likely to be a bit fresher this time around given he hasn’t had to qualify through other races close to the Cup and he simply must be included. Huge chance.
13. Surprise Baby
The Paul Preusker-trained six-year-old was the eye-catching run in last year’s Melbourne Cup, storming home from the back of the field to be beaten less than a length into 5th. He’s raced just twice since then, with his whole year tailored towards peaking for this race. His first run back when 2nd in the Feehan Stakes at Moonee Valley was very good, before a somewhat inconclusive effort in the Turnbull Stakes four weeks ago. Carries just 1kg more than he did last year so has to be rated a leading chance, as the market reflects.
Trent: Arguably the run of the race last year, coming from last and widest on the turn to finish 5th. Had an unconventional prep, but he’s a different beast over 2 miles and Preusker knows what he’s doing. Drawn perfectly, Willo on board, will be in the finish.
Tim: Hard to know what to do with him. He obviously ran a blinder last year and has been set for this race ever since, but his latest run was just fair. I have no doubts about his fitness so I expect with even luck he should be right in the finish.
14. King Of Leogrance
King Of Leogrance has been touted as a Melbourne Cup chance since earlier this year, with back to back wins in the Roy Higgins Quality and Adelaide Cup, ticking the 3200m box in dominant fashion. He was sent out as the $1.80 favourite in the Andrew Ramsden back in May but couldn’t hold out Oceanex, who got the guaranteed start over him. Despite that, the horse has made the field and is coming off two solid runs to be 3rd up here. He ran first up in the Turnbull Stakes and did enough, making some ground from last to be beaten 4.5L. Last start he ran in the Geelong Cup and bounced back to form, finishing 3rd behind Steel Prince and narrowly beating home subsequent Hotham winner Ashrun. Like his stablemate, Danny O’Brien will have this galloper set to peak here, and Damien Lane keeps the ride which is a huge tick. The barrier draw wasn’t kind, and he’ll probably have to head back, but he’s certainly not the worst.
Trent: Ran well in the Geelong Cup and will run the trip. The stable will have him peaking here and despite the draw I think he’ll run top 10.
Tim: His only attempt at this distance was a dominant win in the Adelaide Cup. Whether that form is good enough is the question. Peaks third up from a spell and can be included at $61.
15. Russian Camelot
The SA Derby winner has been very good all preparation, returning with a mighty effort in defeat in the Makybe Diva Stakes before atoning for that with victory in the Underwood Stakes. He then started $1.40 but was rolled by Arcadia Queen, and comes into today’s race having run 3rd as favourite in the Cox Plate. He went forward from the widest gate on that occasion and in a strongly run race, his effort was very good. He now steps up to 3200m for the first time, with Damien Oliver in the saddle for last year’s Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Danny O’Brien. Weighted well with 53.5kg, he looks a leading contender.
Trent: He’s got the miles in his legs to run a strong 3200m. He’s better suited here than in the Cox Plate. If this was a wet track, I’d have him on top. If they run along and he settles, he’s a world class stayer and will go close.
Tim: His run in the Cox Plate was very good and he profiles well for this race as a four-year-old with 53.5kg. With even luck, he should be fighting out the finish.
16. Steel Prince
He’s going really well is Steel Prince, coming off a Geelong Cup win over Ashrun where he fought tooth and nail, as he often does, to repel the challengers. His form all prep has been very solid without a whole lot of luck. He was given a barrier trial first up in the Heatherlie when beaten 7 lengths, before a good run over 2000m in the Naturalism. He then went to the Bart Cummings and raced wide into a strong headwind with 58kg, hitting the front at one stage but being overhauled late by horses protected from the wind. I’d argue he’s going much better than he was heading into last year’s Cup where he ran 9th, beaten 2.1L with 52.5kg, but he hasn’t gotten any favours from the draw. After numerous jockey switches, William Pike takes the ride and will need to live up to the ‘Wizard of the West’ title to get Steel Prince into a good position early. His best racing is clearly done when just off the speed and if he can get to a good spot without using too much energy he’ll be thereabouts.
Trent: Comes here in better form than last year and was off the map when winning the Geelong Cup, yet is nearly double the price of the horse he beat fair and square in Ashrun. Not sure he has the class to win, but he’ll run well despite the awkward draw.
Tim: Ran 9th in last year’s Melbourne Cup and I agree that he comes into this year’s race in better form. Can run well but I don’t see him winning it.
17. The Chosen One
The New Zealand five-year-old from the stables of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman ran a big race in the Caulfield Cup last start, beaten a touch less than a length by Verry Elleegant and Anthony Van Dyck. It’s doubtful that he’d be able to turn the tables on those first two. He finished 2nd in this year’s Sydney Cup over this distance back in April, but that always rates poorly compared to the Melbourne Cup, and his only other start at this distance was when he ran 17th in last year’s edition of this race. He’s drawn well in barrier 5 and carries 53.5kg with Daniel Stackhouse booked to ride, so expect to see him settle in the first third of the field.
Trent: Ran a huge race in the Caulfield Cup with blinkers on but can’t see him turning the tables on the two ahead of him, or Prince Of Arran for that matter. Will run well but not a winning hope for mine.
Tim: Should get a good run from the draw but he’s not a winning chance.
Can Ashrun win a Melbourne Cup off just a 3 day backup? Trainer of the 2014 Melbourne Cup, Andreas Wohler will have had plenty of sleepless nights in hotel quarantine, wondering if his horse was even going to make the field after bringing him all the way from Germany for this race. He was a noted drifter in betting in the Geelong Cup, and looked desperate for the 3200m there, taking a while to get going but hitting the line well for 4th behind Steel Prince. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to get him into the final field, and he had to win his way in on Saturday through the Lexus Hotham. He ran a huge race there with topweight of 61kg, coming from last to deny Sound right on the line. The step up in trip will clearly be in his favour, and he drops 8kg off that run. The two queries are whether he can backup so quickly (it’ll be his 3rd run in 2 weeks), which is often against the pattern of a European horse, and barrier 24. He’ll be going back to near last and looks like he’ll need a strong tempo to be able to run on, but if he gets it and handles the racing, he’s a big chance.
Trent: Crying out for 3200m and it was a great win in the Hotham. He plummets in weight but will be back near last and needs to handle the 3 day backup, which can be very tough for European stayers.
Tim: His run in the Geelong Cup was very good and he backed that up with a sound victory in the Hotham on Saturday. We’ve seen that form hold up in previous years and I expect it to hold up again here. I highly respect this stable and with 53kg he’s a definite chance at $23.
The 2019 Victoria Derby winner hasn’t won another race since, with his closest finishes being consecutive 3rd placings in Adelaide last preparation. His run two starts ago in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) behind Verry Elleegant was eye-catching, however he couldn’t replicate that in the Caulfield Cup last start, beaten more than 5L into 12th. I suspect he’s probably a better horse on firm ground these days, which he’ll get here, but it’s hard to see him being competitive.
Trent: Bit disappointing in the Caulfield Cup after a huge run in the Turnbull. No issues at 3200m and draws well, but Russian Camelot owned him in the SA Derby and he’s a few lengths off the top liners.
Tim: Will appreciate getting back to Flemington but not for me.
20. Etah James
The Sydney Cup winner sneaks into the field with 52.5kg on her back and is currently the longest runner in the race at $91 fixed ($230 on the exchange). She ran okay last start in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup, finishing 4th behind Miami Bound beaten 4 lengths. Her run last prep in the Sydney Cup was good beating The Chosen One, who of course ran very well in the Caulfield Cup behind Verry Elleegant and Anthony Van Dyck. She’ll run the trip no worries, but as an 8yo mare it’s hard to forecast a whole lot of improvement, and this is a big step up from that Sydney Cup. Drawn in barrier 22 she’ll need a lot of luck because her only hope is to go forward and find a spot just off the speed, but she’s not overly quick early and might be caught wide. Probably won’t run last because she’ll get the journey, and the camp would have to be ecstatic with a top 10 finish at best.
Trent: Surprise winner of the Sydney Cup in the Autumn, but this is much harder and she’s simply not good enough to win. Top 10 finish would come as a big shock.
Tim: Won the Sydney Cup at her first start for this stable and has had two runs this time in. She improved from her first run to her second run and they’ll have her ready third up here but she isn’t good enough.
21. Tiger Moth
Aidan O’Brien’s other chance in the race is his Northern hemisphere three-year-old Tiger Moth, the veteran of just four starts. His European form this campaign has been outstanding, breaking his maiden over 2000m at Leopardstown in June before being beaten 0.2L in the Irish Derby at the Curragh. Santiago was the horse that beat him that day and that’s a very good form reference. Tiger Moth came out of that race and won dominantly in the G3 Kilternan Stakes, putting up a 4L margin over 2400m. We’ve seen these types of lightly-raced European horses excel in this race in recent years, and once again this horse looks very well placed with 52.5kg on his back. He draws barrier 23 but if you had to pick a Melbourne Cup jockey, you’d probably pick Kerrin McEvoy, and that’s exactly what O’Brien has done. The last two winners have started from barriers 21 and 19 so I wouldn’t be overly worried about the draw. He’s a deserved favourite and looks exceptionally hard to beat.
Trent: Ticks so many boxes. His run in the Irish Derby behind Santiago was huge and arguably should’ve won. His win last start was utterly dominant. Will be a task to win a Melbourne Cup at just start 5, but he’s got the jockey and trainer to do so. Good track suits, wide barrier not a huge concern as he likes galloping room, hardest to beat and top pick.
Tim: I’m going to stop short of calling him a moral but I think he’s an outstanding bet and quite clearly the horse to beat with even luck. I think this is one of the better horses Aidan O’Brien has sent over for the race and I agree that he ticks so many boxes. Lightly-raced, northern hemisphere three-year-old, very strong form and the breeding to stay 3200m. He’s the winner for mine.
Oceanex booked her ticket into the Melbourne Cup back in May with a win over King Of Leogrance in the Andrew Ramsden. Since then, everything has been building towards this race, but things haven’t exactly gone to plan. She finished 11/12 first up, 11/14 second up and 14/15 third up in the Turnbull Stakes behind Verry Elleegant. She finally showed something last start in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup, sitting handy to a brutal tempo and sticking on very well for 3rd, only beaten 3L by Miami Bound. She’ll be peaking here and obviously gets in very light but is another that draws wide and needs to be on speed to have any chance.
Trent: Ran a much-improved race last start sitting handy to a strong speed, but that isn’t the right form and she’ll be outclassed here.
Tim: Can’t have her.
23. Miami Bound
Bounced back to form in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup last start, posting an impressive 2.5L victory on the soft ground. She probably appreciated the wet track and also the step up in distance on that occasion. It was her first victory since she won the Oaks last Spring. She won’t get conditions like that here though, as the track will be very firm. Stepping up to 3200m may well suit and she’s weighted well with just 51kg, but I also think the form out of that Moonee Valley Gold Cup is questionable, and this is a very good field for the Melbourne Cup.
Trent: Ran some very strong figures/times last start in a fast MV Cup, but that was on a very soft track. Far less suited here and I don’t think that’s the right form despite the time they ran.
Tim: I think that form out of the Moonee Valley race is poor and this will be a completely different race so I’m happy to leave her out.
The one thing this guy has in his favour is that he’s a winner- he knows how to find the winning post. He put up a picket fence as a 3yo over Winter in the staying races for his age group and translated that form to open handicap form and then to group 3 form last start in the Bart Cummings. He got the better of Steel Prince with 3kg less there, but it must be said he got a much better run in transit. He settled midfield on the rails, protected from the wind, and was able to take a gap late to win by a length. He meets Steel Prince 0.5kg worse off for that win so has to be somewhat thereabouts, but this is a huge step up. He handles all ground, is very adaptable in his racing pattern and can roll forward from barrier 20 with just 51kg on his back, but is he up to winning a Melbourne Cup even with the featherweight?
Trent: Knows how to win but had every favour in the Bart Cummings and won’t get that here. He’ll try hard and a top 10 finish isn’t impossible.
Tim: He’s finished in the top two in his past nine straight races, so it’s hard to completely discount him. This is obviously his biggest test but you could do worse than him at $41.
I have to be with Tiger Moth on top. He fits the profile so well, is improving every start, and his 4L victory last start was dominant. Kerrin Mcevoy and Aidan O’Brien know how to win this race and barrier 23 is much better than barrier 3 for this horse. If he gets a cart into the race at the right time, he’ll be very hard to beat. Surprise Baby is the danger. He was enormous in this race last year and despite a 1kg rise, he sets up much better this year. Goes from barrier 20 to barrier 7, and Craig Williams replaces Jordie Childs. Preusker is a great trainer of stayers- don’t let just having 2 runs since last year’s Cup put you off. Anthony Van Dyck is the class. He’s got a big weight but deserves it. He was enormous in the Caulfield Cup and is better suited on a good track at 3200m from barrier 3. Russian Camelot would be hard to beat on a wet track- I think this has been his real target all along. Still does so much wrong and it’s hard to win a Melbourne Cup when over racing. Prince Of Arran was enormous in the Caulfield Cup and just needs luck from barrier 1 to figure.
TOP PICK: (21) Tiger Moth $8.00 Palmerbet
DANGER: (13) Surprise Baby $9.00 Unibet
I like to spread my bets out a bit in this race each year. I think Tiger Moth is an outstanding bet at $8.00 and I expect him to start shorter than that. He brings elite European form and fits the bill as northern hemisphere three-year-old with just a handful of starts and 52.5kg on his back. Not worried about the wide barrier, Kerrin McEvoy is a good booking and I’m confident he’ll be the horse to deliver Aidan O’Brien his first Melbourne Cup. I think Master Of Reality ($21), Twilight Payment ($26) and Ashrun ($23) are all worthy of consideration and will get some of my money, while I’ll be including Stratum Albion ($51) in absolutely everything. Surprise Baby is potentially the biggest threat and it may be worth saving on him at $9.00, while there’s no reason Prince Of Arran ($11) can’t go very close again.
TOP PICK: (21) Tiger Moth $8.00 Palmerbet
Trent: 2 units WIN Tiger Moth; 1 unit WIN Surprise Baby
Tim: 2.5 units WIN Tiger Moth; 0.5 units WIN Surprise Baby, Master Of Reality, Twilight Payment, Ashrun; 0.25 units WIN Stratum Albion.