A Melbourne Cup Preview – before I Sign Off!

Happy Cup Day to all,


What a fantastic day of racing we had on Derby Day in spite of the arctic wind.  That wind not only affected the crowd with an overexposure of chicken skin but a significant impact on the racing where horses with cover at the top of the straight had a great advantage over those left in front doing the donkey work.  Bear this in mind when considering the form of many of these in the future.  A quick review of a few performances and then onto the great race!

Once again Chris Waller showed his ability as a trainer winning the three key 3yo events in the Carbine Club, the Coolmore and the Derby – then missing on the Mackinnon by a nose.  Yes, it is a numbers game and he has plenty of horses to choose from but he keeps on putting the right ones in the right races.  He has three more running in the main event on Tuesday.  Then the top jockeys came to the fore with doubles to Blake Shinn, Damien Oliver and Joao Moreira.  There are many questions about whether Damien Oliver should be allowed to ride or not. That notwithstanding his ride on Preferment in the Derby was masterful being able to manage running three wide for most of the journey.

Then there was my performance to assess. Proceedings opened up well with a trifecta among the four selections provided – Stratum Star got left in front early and was a sitting duck but the winner is pretty good.  Three outright winners and two others mentioned was a fair return on the day, Sign Off and Deep Field were both pretty short but Preferment provided good value in the Derby.  Was pretty happy to nail the Derby exacta – but unfortunately I was looking for the trifecta!

Along with the Melbourne Cup the Tuesday’s meeting is bookended with a couple of Group 3 events I will preview those, then take a good hard look at the cup field plus a look forward to the Oaks on Thursday.


Race 1 – Emirates Airline Plate (G3, 1000m, 2yo Fillies)

No race more exemplifies the lament of Australian racing, half the field have not been to the races before but they are lining up for Group 3 recognition – crazy stuff.  Almost as crazy as trying to find a winner, the best thing to do here is finish your morning coffee and look forward to the rest of the day.  However there is a dividend to be paid, I am going for at least one of the unraced to be primed for a kill – so going more on hunch than fact.  The Smerdon stable is going OK with fillies and with the C Williams engagement I suspect Thurlow(15)  will be good to go.  Of the raced brigade Results (7) finished off her race well and G Boss is re-engaged.  Winning form can’t be ignored so Mihalic (1) goes in and always wary of the Sheikh with a good ‘un so Antelucan (10) makes up my numbers.  Others considered 2, 7, 12, 13 – but in reality it is all a guess and take a good look at the mounting yard and the market if investing here.

Selections Race 1 – 15-7-1-10


Race 10 – The Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes (G3, 1400m, 4yo+ Mares SWP)

The last race on 30° day might have the track pretty almost cooked so looking for the dry trackers.  There are still chances everywhere although it narrows down for those that think Sydney form is vastly superior – I am not quite in that camp but do have a healthy respect.  Sino Eagle (12) does have to contend with a tough barrier but her record on good ground is excellent, Hazard (7) has a similar challenge with a wide draw but also has great form on firm tracks.  Rose of Choice (5) and She’s Clean (3) make up the remaining selections giving due deference to Sydney form and the Snowden and Waller teams.  Would have Girl Guide (1) right in the mix but expect her to be scratched after running well in the Myer Classic on Saturday and if Mahara (19) makes the field she almost goes to the top.

Selections Race 10 – 12-7-5-3


Race 7 – The Melbourne Cup (G1, 3200m, HCP)

Running around for $6,000,000 in prize money but we still only have one Australian bred horse in the field – ‘nuff said!  It is an interesting line up this year with a preponderance of nine year olds in the event.  Maybe it does reflect the quality of the field, but also I expect it also reflects the advances in training and health of the horses that can keep them going for longer – provided they are not intact!  Nevertheless the race has never been won by horse of that age so I am not considering them to be winning chances.  Last year Fiorente went against history being the first horse for 25 years coming back to win the race after contesting it previously without success, this year we have Cavalryman (2), Fawkner (3), Red Cadeaux (4), Sea Moon (6) and Precedence (15) trying to prove it was not a one off.  Another critical factor will be the weather and track conditions, as alluded to with warm temperatures I expect the track to be a Good 3 by cup time.  That rating is generally too hard for the Europeans that are used to softer ground, but not for the Japanese who are happy to run on flint hard surfaces.  It certainly puts paid to runners that prefer the sting out of the ground.  Now for a look at the field,


1 Admire Rakti (8) Zac Purton A dominant Caulfield Cup winner and some brilliant positioning by the team had him gifted only a ½ kg penalty.  Based on that run I reckon he has that field covered and we can’t forget the last time the Japanese attacked our race with Delta Blues and Pop Rock.  They produce great stayers this horse is a justifiable favourite for the big one and is my 3rd selection.
2 Cavalryman (3) Craig Williams Had a crack and finished 12th in 2012 but looks to be in better form this time winning the Goodwood over this distance two starts ago.  Engagement of a local jockey is a positive and gives Godolphin another chance.  As a 9yo I will stick with the stats and he is not in my selections but not without hope.
3 Fawkner (9) Nick Hall Should be the pin up horse of Australian racing – locally bred and a real contender.  His run in the Cox Plate was outstanding, he comes back to his favourite track with a huge chance.  Targeted the Caulfield Cup last year and won, if this year’s target is the Melbourne Cup he can win – but not sure he did not run his Grand Final a week ago.   The Williams team do know how to win this race and he is my 2nd selection.
4 Red Cadeaux (15) Gerald Mosse The frequent flyer is back again and has a tremendous record in this race, but he is now nine so I am happy to leave him out as a live chance.
5 Protectionist (11) Ryan Moore Fits the profile as a 5yo and was fantastic in the Herbert Power.  Also like the fact he has had a run here.  A real chance in the race, not in my top four but a win would not surprise.
6 Sea Moon (18) Tommy Berry Sea others – as blinkers go on in desperation for a form turnaround.  Is OK on firm ground.
7 Seismos (1) Craig Newitt Does have the benefit of an Australian run – I just don’t think it was any good.  Won his previous race in grinding style – but this race is not for grinders any more.
8 Junoob (7) Hugh Bowman Hard to discount any of CJ Waller’s runners with the way he presents them.  Wasn’t terrible in the Caulfield Cup but I suspect his peak was in the Metropolitan, could be a top ten finisher.
9 Royal Diamond (6) Steven Arnold Does have good firm track form, but here as the pony for Mutual Regard and is nine.
10 Gatewood (22) William Buick Form reads well but in very small fields, outside barrier doesn’t help.
11 Mutual Regard (12) Damien Oliver The raiders seek out D Oliver, so when he takes up the ride we should take notice.  He won the Ebor which has been a good form reference in the past, has been carrying huge weights so 55kg will not bother him.  My only concern being not having a run here prior, but a massive chance and my 4th selection.
12 Who Shot Thebarman (13) Glen Boss The pick of the Waller runners for mine, won at Flemington, won over 3200m, G Boss knows the circuit.  Not in my top picks but looks a real value runner if the $26 holds up.
13 Willing Foe (17) James McDonald Lightly raced but I suspect will be a beaten foe at the end of 3200.
14 My Ambivalent (4) Andrea Atzeni Has been running in group company and 3rd in the Sheema Classic is good form, but too many question marks on her work at Werribee.  I just don’t care for her.
15 Precedence (20) Michael Rodd He was going better last year and could not get a run!  Would set an almighty precedent if he were to win and get another for Bart, but a bit too much against him.  Be interesting what price he gets to with the JB Cummings factor.
16 Brambles (21) Luke Nolen Was high in my ratings, but I thought he could have finished off better in the Mackinnon and then picking the 21 marble made it more difficult.  The weight relief will help but a bit too much against him now.
17 Mr O’Ceirin (19) Chad Schofield Not going well enough and needs Noah to start gathering the species.
18 Au Revoir (23) Glynn Schofield Probably had to win the MV Cup to be in my calculations and barrier 23 doesn’t help.
19 Lidari (10) Ben Melham Best drawn of the OTI bunch, but concerned when the connections doubt him at the journey.
20 Opinion (14) Tye Angland Entitled to be better in the MV Cup.  Is well weighted but would be better with some rain in the forecast.
21 Araldo (24) Dwayne Dunn Has had a good build up culminating with 5th in the Caulfield Cup, another lightweight hope but poorly drawn.
22 Lucia Valentina (2) Kerrin McEvoy Fantastic in the Caulfield Cup after a brilliant win here in the Turnbull, jockey has produced a cup winning ride on a lightweight.  That is all in her favour but the Diva aside not many mares salute in the race.  But this field is of questionable quality and she isn’t – a real chance but just outside my top four.
23 Unchain my Heart (5) Dean Yendall 2 from 2 over this trip winning the last two Andrew Ramsden Stakes (formerly Duke of Norfolk), but a vastly different field here and in pretty indifferent form.
24 Sign Off (16) Joao Moreira Wish I knew of the plan earlier in the campaign, then I could have saved money not backing him till Saturday.  But the plan has come together and he is a massive chance to win the Melbourne Cup for DK Weir who had the look of “the cat that ate the canary” after the Lexus or the Saab or whoever the sponsor is!  I love the lightweights in handicaps, Joao displayed his class on Saturday, it is part of the plan and Sign off is my selection to win the Melbourne Cup.


Melbourne Cup Selections – 24-3-1-11-12-22-5-4-16-8



We have not fared well on the Quaddie front and four races that are up for selection don’t make it easy, but with wide markets and big fields come good dividends.  Going with a dual strategy one quaddie going wide in the cup and then looking for the more fancied runners in the other legs.  The second narrowing the cup down to the more favoured runners and a couple extra in the other legs.  But it is cup day so we’ll splurge to $20 per quaddie.


Quaddie 1


216 Combinations, $20 investment will return 9.3% of the dividend


Quaddie 2


300 Combinations, $20 investment will return 6.66% of the dividend



Race 8 – VRC Oaks (G1, 2500m, 3yo Fillies SW)

The field isn’t finalised but the form is well exposed – the question being whether or not the traditional Wakeful form will stand up again.  Thunder Lady was very impressive in winning the Wakeful and will take some beating, but most of her main rivals did not contest that race.  Fontein Ruby did it tough on Saturday and might be at the end of her campaign, but her stablemates Crafty and Lumosity are set to go and are massive chances.  Go Indy Go keeps on teasing with tantalising performances but not following up, if the pace is on she will be steaming home and could just be too good.  Golconda finished off the Wakeful well and this has been her target all spring as did Fenway.  The other filly who we haven’t seen for a couple of weeks is Set Square who looked terrific winning the Ethereal.  My selections are qualified till we see the final field but here they are


Go Indy Go – Lumosty – Thunder Lady – Crafty


Cheers, Sal


  1. The artist formerly known as Bronty says

    I got royal diamond and junoob.
    You’d want to be good with a name like royal diamond and you got no chance with a name like junoob.

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