It could potentially be a very different Melbourne Cup in 2021, with the new Racing Victoria rules surrounding international runners ultimately making it harder for overseas raiders to compete. Nevertheless, there are plenty of stayers both in Australia and abroad that have already piqued an early interest for the race that stops a nation.
Here are five 2021 Melbourne Cup horses to watch from a long way out that could be big players come the Spring.
7yo gelding trained by Phillip Stokes
Current Odds: $34 at Bet365
Originally brought out for a Cups campaign nearly two years ago, we didn’t get to see this 3200m group 2 winner until recently where he hit the line very stylishly in the group 3 Easter Cup at Caulfield. He then stepped up in trip at Flemington and his staying prowess shone in a five-horse field, easily accounting for progressive stayer Mohican Heights and 2020 Melbourne Cup 5th placegetter Persan. In seven runs at 3000m+ he’s only been beaten once and will be a leading contender for the 2021 Melbourne Cup.
Replay: Amade winning over 2600m at Flemington on April 25th 2021
4yo horse trained by Anthony & Sam Freedman
Current Odds: $41 at Sportsbet
Another that was brought to Australia for the Cups, Delphi had a setback last year and a campaign was shelved. He returned over an unsuitable 1600m at Eagle Farm a few weeks ago, finishing 6th beaten 2.8L in a very slowly run race. He’s a lightly raced stayer of just six starts, of which he’s won four, including a dominant 4.5L win at listed level over 2400m and a narrow win in the group 3 Irish St Leger. The form out of those is recognisable to Australians – Delphi ($2.50) beat the Hickmott import Degraves by 5.8L in the listed win at Leopardstown, who won at Flemington on Saturday. He also started $1.90 and narrowly beat Master Of Reality, who went very close in the 2019 Melbourne Cup. He fits the profile of a lightly raced stayer that I think will be a big Melbourne Cup player.
Replay: Delphi winning the G3 Irish St Leger at The Curragh on August 14th 2020
3yo gelding trained by Charlie Appleby
Current Odds: $34 at Ladbrokes
Certainly an interesting Melbourne Cup contender. He’s only had the three starts but has improved each time out, culminating in a strong win at Royal Ascot in the group 2 Queen’s Vase over 2800m. Prior to that he was a dominant 6L winner in maiden grade. There are a few positives with him that now see him near the top of Melbourne Cup betting markets. Firstly, he has huge scope to improve, having only raced three times. The next is his racing pattern – he generally races near the speed, and importantly he has a good turn of foot from that position, which can be very helpful in Australian staying races where they can tend to sprint home. Thirdly and perhaps most notably, Charlie Appleby has signalled his intentions to target the Melbourne Cup, noting that northern hemisphere three year olds have a good recent record in the race. I wouldn’t be backing him in Melbourne Cup futures markets given the uncertainty around internationals, but he ticks a lot of boxes if he does get here.
Replay: Kemari winning over 2847m at Royal Ascot on June 16th 2021
4yo horse trained by William Haggas
Current Odds: $31 at Sportsbet
Another leading 2021 Melbourne Cup international hope if he makes it out here. He’s a progressive stayer that looks to have really come of age this time in, racing three times for two wins and a second. Both wins came over 2400m at group 3 level and were by 4+ lengths, with the form reading well. He easily accounted for the John Gosden trained Logician at Newbury, who was touted as one of the best up and coming stayers in the world early in his career, beating the likes of Constantinople, Il Paradiso and Sir Dragonet, all whom have been ultra-competitive at their best in Australian Group 1 races. We know William Haggas isn’t a stranger to Australian racing, having successfully sent Addeybb to Sydney the last two years, and he flagged the Caulfield Cup as a potential target for Al Aasy. He’d be my top seed for the Caulfield Cup if he were to come here, and if he ran well in that I would think he’d be a leading contender in the Melbourne Cup as well.
4yo gelding trained by Steve Tregea (soon to be Peter Moody)
Current Odds: $17 at Sportsbet
The horse on everyone’s lips after his dominant Queensland winter, culminating in a dominant 12 length win at Group 3 level in the Tatts Cup. He’s an exciting stayer recently bought by prominent owners to be trained by Peter Moody and targeted at the Cups. Obviously he’s been beating horses that would start $101 in a Melbourne Cup, but all you can do is win, and the times/ratings have certainly suggested he’s up to group class racing in Melbourne, notably off fast and slow race shapes. The reports from Racing Victoria after his win on Saturday suggest he’s more than likely to make the Caulfield Cup field with 52-53kg, which helps his programming. A race like the Underwood at 1800m at WFA has been flagged as an ideal return, where we could see a mouth-watering clash with Cox Plate favourite, Zaaki. Now into 2021 Caulfield Cup favouritism, and on the 3rd line of 2021 Melbourne Cup betting, Incentivise is a big chance in both races, and given he’s only in his second preparation, who knows how far this horse can go?
Replay: Incentivise winning the G3 Tattersall’s Cup at Eagle Farm on June 26th 2021
* Odds current as at 29th June 2021