ANOTHER open and tricky affair awaits punters in this year’s Group 1 Melbourne Cup over the famed Flemington 3200m.
This year’s renewal of theCup hasn’t produced the highest quality field ever assembled, but in among a mixed bag of horses presents a number of clear betting angles according to our traders and racing analysts.
Here’s there view on every runner – plus the verdict on who will take out the race that stops the nation.
GROUP 1 MELBOURNE CUP (3200M)
1 HARTNELL ($31.00): Ran third last year but doesn’t seem to be going as well. The stable says this race has always been the target but doubt he’ll be a contender this time around.
2 ALMANDIN ($10.00): Last year’s winner is carrying plenty of extra weight this time around – that of money, expectation, legitimate kilos and Frankie Dettori’s hoodoo. He was soundly beaten in the Bart Cummings though and going back-to-back isn’t easy.
3 HUMIDOR ($11.00): Was enormous in the Cox Plate when making ground late on Winx – something we’ve not seen a horse do in years. He’s rock hard fit and Shinn stays on board, but does he run the trip?
4 TIBERIAN ($34.00): There’s been plenty of hype about this French galloper on the back of consecutive 2500m wins at Deauville. 3200m remains a query and we’re happy to look past him this time.
5 MARMELO ($9.00): The best-backed runner into outright favouritism since the barrier draw. It is hard to see him running poorly on the back of a strong Caulfield Cup effort and Prix Kergolay win at Deauville in August. Looks one of the main hopes and jockey Hugh Bowman handles the big stage as well as anyone.
6 RED CARDINAL ($23.00): Australian Bloodstock reported that he wasn’t right when never threatening behind Marmelo at Deauville. The one-time all-in favourite for the race, he certainly has the quality band a number of good judges rate him very highly.
7 JOHANNES VERMEER ($11.00): Was all the rage before the Caulfield Cup and belied any distance concerns there to storm home for an unlucky fourth. An extra four furlongs here raises questions about his chances but certainly on ability he’s a major player.
8 BONDI BEACH ($71.00): Once the up-and-coming star of the Lloyd Williams team, Bondi Beach has done next to nothing in between some average efforts in the last two Cups. Unlikely to feature here either.
9 MAX DYNAMITE ($17.00): The 2015 runner up returns for another crack, but has raced just four times since that for three big defeats and a win at $1.40. Respecting Willie Mullins and the horse but he’s short enough for our liking.
10 VENTURA STORM ($41.00): Beat home Humidor when they were both pummelled by Winx in the Turnbull – that’s a good form reference for many reasons! Disappointed in the Caulfield Cup but he was purchased for this race and must respect the Lindsay Park operation.
11 WHO SHOT THEBARMAN (SCR)
12 WICKLOW BRAVE ($61.00): Endured a torrid run in last year’s Cup and hasn’t done a great deal since, although a close second to Rekindling at the Curragh does give him hope. Regardless, he looks like he needs another lap to figure.
13 BIG DUKE ($19.00): One of the best-backed runners with TopBetta. His Caulfield Cup preparation was aborted and it looks a masterstroke, with a strong St Leger win followed by an unlucky but ultimately beneficial 2500m “barrier trial” in the Moonee Valley Cup. Soft draw, strong connections, huge chance.
14 US ARMY RANGER ($61.00): A bit of an unknown, he commands respect as part of the Williams team but he just doesn’t appear to be going well enough. Would need to produce something well above what he’s done for a long time.
15 BOOM TIME ($31.00): A shock Caulfield Cup winner, Boom Time is a tough stayer who well and truly deserves his crack at the big time. He will run an honest race and could once again be a knockout winner if things pan out in his favour.
16 GALLANTE ($126.00): A huge price for this Team Williams galloper isn’t enough to suck us in. Looks a potential pacemaker in this.
17 LIBRAN ($51.00): The Moonee Valley Cup is always a reasonable form reference and Libran was excellent there a fortnight ago. He has placed at Group 1 level over two miles and despite his inconsistency, could pop up in the finish on best form.
18 NAKEETA ($41.00): Following the road travelled by last year’s runner up Heartbreak City via the Ebor, which he won. His form prior was poor though and there’s other internationals who hold greater appeal.
19 SINGLE GAZE ($51.00): Bonny mare who fought her heart out to run second in the Caulfield Cup. Again, this looks a step too great for her but how could you possibly pot her?
20 WALL OF FIRE ($14.00): Short enough here but has had the one run in the Herbert Power for a good second which is a reasonable reference. Perhaps greater value elsewhere though.
21 THOMAS HOBSON ($16.00): The second of Willie Mullins’ entries holds a strong record at the trip and a good overall strike rate. He’s a genuine stayer but is perhaps too much of a grinding type.
22 REKINDLING ($11.00): Probably the best of Team Williams’ chances. He ran fourth last start in a high rating race and that has certainly topped him off for this. He has options from barrier four, has plenty of upside and goes in absolutely everything.
23 AMELIE’S STAR ($23.00): Ridden upside down in the Caulfield Cup and while that’s a forgive run, it also puts genuine question marks against her name. On her Bart Cummings win prior to that she’s a major player.
24 CISMONTAINE ($61.00): Winner of the Lexus on Saturday. Looks the likely leader in this and has the Gai toughness in him but his chances could be determined by how many of Lloyd’s lesser hopes serve it up to him in front.
In an open affair, we’re going to stick our necks out and put BIG DUKE on top. He has options in the run, miles in his legs and a proven trainer and connections to prepare him for the big stage.
REKINDLING goes in for second. Like our top pick, he has a kind draw and looks the best hope from the Williams team. His last run was very impressive to the eye and his figures suggest he’s right in this.
Our third pick is the Caulfield Cup eye-catcher, MARMELO. He’s a deserved favourite for the race and has plenty of admirers after his win in the Prix Kergolay. Hugh Bowman can certainly steer him into the finish..
From the same French form reference comes RED CARDINAL. A long-time favourite for the race, he should be assessed on his form prior to his most recent forgive run. Any sting out of the ground only enhances his chances.