The Melbourne Cup

Off to Royal Randwick tomorrow for Cup Day. Hoping it doesn’t take too long to collect my Fashions on the Field prizes, so I have enough time to prowl the betting ring and lose my shirt. If you’ll be choosing your nag based on the pretty silks of the jockey, well, it’s as good a method as any, since the challenge of assessing the relative merits of European, Japanese, Kiwi, and Australian races has everyone puzzled.

I used to discount to foreign raiders, but in the past 5 years they’ve produced a winner and 4 placegetters, and have arrived this year with superior form to most local hopes. There’s a strong chance the Cup will be in a cabinet offshore again this year. I haven’t setttled on a likely winner as yet, but I have ruled a line through 3/4 of the field. I’m down to 5 top chances (comments in bold), with 2 outside chances that may be value on the day (comments italicised):

1. Yeats. Rated internationally as one of the world’s best stayers, and appears to have trained well here. Wins the race on paper, but might struggle in the bustle of a Melbourne Cup. I’ve also got a query over the jockey – he’s unfit.

2. Delta Blues. Well credentialled Japanese horse with Japan Cup form to his credit. They’re importing their Japanese jockey on the day because they’re idiots. Caulfied Cup run showed he has class.

3. Railings. Has done nothing all year.

4. Tawqeet. Strongest formlines going into the race, including a slashing win in the Caulfied Cup. Even better suited at Flemington, the trainer is on fire this year, and the horse has improved with every run. Great chance.

5. Geordieland. The trainer has beenstanding on every street corner in Melbourne for a week with a loudhailer proclaiming what a top chance he’s got. They’re importing acclaimed jockey Frankie Dettori, who can’t win. Rumour has it they might put a local jockey on board, which would give this horse a chance.

6. Headturner. One time favourite for the race, has done nothing since arriving in Melbourne. Turn your head rearwards if you want to follow his progress in the race.

7. Short Pause. A mudlark. Good European form in 2005, done nothing since.

8. Activation. Form every bit as good as the favourite. Should have beaten Tawqeet two starts ago, and meets him 3kg better at the weights this time, and got too far back when beaten a length by the same horse in the Caulfied Cup. A real chance at about 20/1.

9 Land’n’Stars. Hopeless

10. Mahtoum. Making up numbers

11. On A Jeune. A real street corner tip after fluking 2nd place last year. Absolutely no hope.

12. Pop Rock. Eye catching effort in the Caulfied Cup, has strong Japanese form, and the connections have sensibly engaged a top local jockey. Appears to be training better than his better credentialled stablemate Delta Blues.

13. Zipping. Has won a couple of nice races but lacks the class and stamina to win the Big One.

14. Dizelle. If she wins it’ll be memorable, because she’ll be last on the turn. Gets too far back, and needs an inpsired ride to be a chance at the 200m.

15. Ice Chariot. Queenslanders don’t win Melbourne Cups

16. Kerry O’Reilly. Goes better hosting Lateline.

17. Zabeat. Gluestick

18. Art Success. Queenslander

19. Demerger. Nice horse, not good enough here.

20. Glistening. Another foreign invader, trainer has been tight-lipped. Unlikely to figure prominently.

21. Mandela. Smokey from Kiwi-land who produced a slashing win in the Geelong Cup. Has Melbourne’s current top jockey Craig Williams engaged for the mount.

22. Dolphin Jo. Where’s Flipper, Jo?

23. Maybe Better. Two fabulous wins in the past three weeks have rocketed this improving horse into genuine contention. Peaking at the right time, will carry 7kg less than his win on Saturday, has Chris Munce on board, who is riding with great confidence and won this race in 1998. May just lack the class of the top three.

24. Efficient. 3rd favourite following his awesome win in the Victorian Derby on Saturday. However no 3-year-old has won the Cup since 1941, he’ll be having his 3rd run in 8 days – a huge ask for any horse – and the time he ran to win on Saturday was a full 3 seconds slower than Maybe Better ran to win over the same distance 2 hours later. Lay of the day.

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