Almanac Horseracing: Melbourne Cup – Sal’s Preview: Are we in for a big surprise? Yeah Baby yeah!

Greetings All,



The penultimate edition for the year, Derby Day delivered again with some great racing and as usual some well-priced winners.  The average winning price for the Flemington Carnival has been over $10 for a number of years.  Cup day delivers an even tougher program and the big race itself is one for the ages with Derby winners, Caulfield Cup winner and Cox Plate winners all contesting.



Track conditions for the will be important to follow.  Racing Victoria’s guidance to track managers is to present the tracks as a Good 4, the challenge here being that the first runs before 11:00am and the cup four hours later.  Predicted weather is high 20s with a northerly to dry the track out; it could be up to a Good 3 or Fast 2 by cup time, suspect they will put plenty of juice in and the day will kick off at a Soft 5. We’ll assess the cup first and then see what we can pick out on a very difficult program.



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



Anthony Van Dyke (No. 1, Barrier 3, 58.5kg)
Bowman/A O’Brien


Outstanding performance in the Caulfield Cup and would have needed to break a weight carrying record to win, needs to do the same here and has not been beyond 2400m. The draw gives him every chance to get the journey, has the class to win but the weight might tell.  5th selection



Avilius (No. 2, Barrier 10, 57kg)


Would have been right in the conversation for the Caulfield Cup if not for the interrupted run.  If the track has some give could be right in this conversation too, the weather gods are not smiling.  Not many 7yo winners, Almandin did it but Lloyd beat the handicapper to do it – this fellow has 57.



Vow and Declare (No. 3, Barrier 4, 57kg)
Mott/D O’Brien


As the defending champ we know he gets the distance and firm surface is in his favour but not much else.  Was a weight special last year and delivered, the handicapper has him now and would be a monumental task especially given his recent form.



Master of Reality (No. 4, Barrier 11, 56kg)
Melham/J O’Brien


Only rises 1/2 kg from being 2nd over the line last year in this race so must present as some chance (demoted to 4th on protest).  All runs since have been over 2816m with a win in the last one.  Likely to run on pace suspect there will be more pressure in the 2020 renewal than 2019’s and will be harder to hang on.



Sir Dragonet (No. 5, Barrier 14, 55.5kg)


Got the run of the race in the Cox Plate for a great win, didn’t look like he was running out of puff either.  Meets Russian Camelot with a 1/2 kilo advantage.  Loves the cut out of the track his form on dry surfaces is inconclusive if he can handle it he is right in this.



Twilight Payment (No. 6, Barrier 12, 55.5kg)
McNeil/J O’Brien


Lead the race last year but did plenty of work to get there ultimately finishing back in 11th.  Better preparation this year giving Master of Reality a good beating in the Curragh Cup and a valiant 3rd in the Irish St Leger being 3 wide most of the journey.  The best chance to make it seven for Lloyd Williams.



Verry Elleegant (No. 7, Barrier 15, 55.5kg)


Racing at her very best, answered dry ground questions in the Turnbull before a superb victory in the Caulfield Cup.  Has to match the Diva’s second cup with the weight, reckon she is up to it.  3rd Selection



Mustajeer (No. 8, Barrier 2, 55kg)


A sound effort in the Caulfield Cup and may have improved off that run but has lengths to make up on the quinella pair in that race.



Stratum Albion (No. 9, Barrier 9, 55kg)


No doubt about staying the distance for Stratum Albion a regular competitor over the hurdles and a winner on the flat over 3600m.  Was a very impressive staying effort to finish second in the Lonsdale Cup but not sure he will have the brilliance to be a Melbourne Cup winner.



Dashing Willoughby (No. 10, Barrier 19, 54.5kg)


For Michael Walker to abandon Prince of Arran to ride this one is an indicator of this horse’s quality – a winner at Royal Ascot.  Beaten in the Lonsdale by Stratum Albion but not by much, however last in the Caulfield Cup does not inspire confidence.  One I can leave out.



Finche (No. 11, Barrier 6, 54.5kg)


Does not run a bad race, doesn’t win out of turn but is always in top competition.  Gets a favourable draw and the services of JMac, the second seed for CJW gives him a great chance to land the prize.



Prince of Arran (No. 12, Barrier 1, 54.5kg)


Third time up for the Prince with placings in his previous two tries, Jamie Kah on board is a plus.  Gets the pole as did Michelle Payne on another prince.  Spooky!  Has to be a chance after a very impressive fourth in the Caulfield Cup.



Surprise Baby (No. 13, Barrier 7, 54.5kg)


Paul Preusker and the Wimmera have been waiting a year for this day after a flashing fifth in last year’s race.  Form leading in is moderate but all efforts targeted at this race, last year he had to be at his top to win The Bart and get the ticket in.  He gets a good barrier this year so no excuses, a firm track in his favour and reckon we might hear Craig Williams thanking everyone from his parents down to the local baker for his success. 1st Selection



King of Leogrance (No. 14, Barrier 18, 53.5kg)
Lane/D O’Brien


Adelaide Cup wining form is not usually good enough for the Melbourne Cup, though did run 3rd in the Geelong Cup which is a good form race.  Has a tough draw to contend with and reckon there are more than a few better.



Russian Camelot (No. 15, Barrier 16, 53.5kg)
Oliver/D O’Brien


Does the cunning plan come to fruition?  Was terrific in the Cox Plate, was he beaten fair and square or by the barrier?  His run 2000m in the SA Derby was breathtaking.  Reckon that barrier was a factor and can turn the tables on his conqueror – will be better over further and right in this. 4th Selection.



Steel Prince (No. 16, Barrier 21, 53.5kg)


Had the free ticket but not the form last year but still ran well.  Form has forced him into the field with the win in the Geelong Cup with a suitable weight to be right in this.  The barrier draw has deflated that balloon a little, will take a Willie Pike special.



The Chosen One (No. 17, Barrier 5, 53.5kg)


Had a great run to finish 3rd in the Caulfield Cup and drawn to get a good run here too.  Generally considered a class below the top liners but Murray Baker has been fooling us for a long time.  Proven dry tracker and could be a knock out.



Ashrun (No. 18, Barrier 24, 53kg)


Outstanding effort to win the Hotham Handicap carrying 61kg.  Gets in here with 53 and the chance to emulate Shocking.  Andreas knows how to win the race but Declan Bates will have a mighty task from the outside barrier.



Warning (No. 19, Barrier 8, 53kg)


Just an effort in the Caulfield Cup but seems to like Flemington winning the Derby last year and a good showing in the Turnbull two starts back.  Was no match for Russian Camelot in the SA Derby so would be surprised if he finished ahead.



Etah James (No. 20, Barrier 22, 52.5kg)


Won the Sydney Cup while Noah was hovering, thoughts are that she needs those conditions.  Six wins on Good suggests not.  Doubt she is up to these but will be batting away at the end.



Tiger Moth (No. 21, Barrier 23, 52.5kg)
K McEvoy/ A O’Brien


Plenty of controversy for the 2.5kg penalty given for winning a group three event.  Was it deserved or was it just to lift him into the field.  The run was outstanding as was his effort in the Irish Derby.  Being by Galileo should stay the journey but will take a very good steer by McEvoy from an outside gate.  He did win with Brew from the very outside gate and is not bad in this race.  Might have beaten the handicapper.  2nd Selection.



Oceanex (No. 22, Barrier 17, 51.5kg)


Got the free ticket back in May and was just plodding till she got to the MV Cup over a distance and performed really well.  Not sure she is up to Melbourne Cup, but a lightweight and at a trip she should relish, not hopeless.



Miami Bound (No. 23, Barrier 13, 51kg)
Moor/D O’Brien


Danny O’Brien has gone the Bart Cummings path with this girl getting 10,000m of racing under the belt in the campaign.  Got her to the MV Cup over 2500 and she was superb.  Has a lightweight here will run the trip, not without hope.



Persan (No. 24, Barrier 20, 51kg)


Took Bart’s ticket, has been a warhorse through the winter and been up since May.  Runs on speed handles any conditions, probably outclassed – so was Prince of Penzance.  The Prince came out of barrier one and Frankie took half the field out.  Persan is drawn wide and Frankie is not here.



While cases can be made for many, there are a couple that would have been better placed if the rain came.  Haven’t been entirely enamoured with the preparation of Surprise Baby (13) but only because we haven’t seen much of him.  Drawn to get the run of the race and is well in on the weights, they’ve talked the game now to deliver.  Was trying not to have the raiders too high in the picture but once I saw the runs of Tiger Moth (21) he had to go in.  Probably would be on top if not for the poor barrier, the stable is confident it can be overcome and KMac knows how to win this race.  Caulfield Cup form is handy for this race so Verry Elleegant (7) and Anthony Van Dyke (1) are certainly chances, both have been given weights for very good horses so a win to either would put them in the highest class.  Behind them were The Chosen (17) and Prince of Arran (12) not sure either catch the other two but are in form.  Like ‘The Baby’ Russian Camelot (15) gets to his target race, will appreciate the extra ground and a definite winning hope.  CJW’s second seed is Finche (11) a consistent performer and get’s the trip, then we have the Williams pair and reckon Twilight Payment (6) is going better.  Would have had the Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet (5) higher but for the query on dry ground, if handles it then we know G. Boss can get him there.  Great renewal of the race!



Selections: 13-21-7-15-1-12-11-6



Now for the rest of the card.  We open with a Group 3 race for the babies, it doesn’t get the analysis, watch the market those that have been to the races generally fare better.  Any of the first starters will need to be good to beat Ingratiating (R1, #1)Twain’s Express (R2, #3) nearly got up on Cox Plate Day and hopefully can go one better here, wary of the Sydney fillies Joviality (R2, #2) and Sweet Reply (R2, #4).  Probably would have preferred the outside for Hard Landing (R3, #1) but is good fresh and has a victory down the straight.  Unfortunately Sin to Win (R4, #7) runs true to his name, looks well placed over 2800m but the outside barrier needs to be overcome.  The top two Djukon (R4, #1) and Knight’s Order (R4, #2) have big weights to haul all this puts Yonkers (R4, #8) as the pick here.



We get a shorty in the next with Ain’tnodeeldun (R5, #2) and will take a good ‘un to beat him.  Beat home the impressive Wakeful winner Victoria Quay last start and probably would have run favourite in the derby if they went that way.  Hopefully we get a couple of scratchings for The Difference (R6, #18 EM2) in a very open affair with the best form drawn wide.  Otherwise maybe Bravo Tango (R6, #3).



The cup opens the quaddie and the three after are not much easier!  Great field in race 8 and putting Harbour Views (R8, #8) as the pick dropping back in grade from group one company.  Will have plenty of company in the quaddie.



Race 9 – Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes (G3, 1400m, Mares SWP)



Can’t believe Lyre (3) can be the favourite surely punters have had enough!  Wild Vixen (2) was terrific at Geelong and will appreciate the space here, the other is Cordilla (15) who has a win here also.  Music Bay (5) has drawn wide but form improving and Lyre (3) will tease again.



Selections: 2-15-3-5



A ripping close to the day, hoping the outside is the place to be and Chicago Cub (R10, #10) can get back to his best.  Three from four starts over this journey and importantly gets to a good surface.



Quaddie Time

We will go with a two quaddie strategy and hopefully nail them both, actually just one would be handy!  First very wide in the cup and skinny down the other legs, the other the main hope in the cup and a bit wider in the last three legs.



Go wide!


Leg 1: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 23, 24
Leg 2: 6, 8, 15
Leg 3: 2, 3, 15
Leg 4: 10, 17



Just the toppies!


Leg 1: 1, 5, 7, 12, 13, 15, 21
Leg 2: 1, 6, 8, 13, 15
Leg 3: 2, 3, 4, 5, 15
Leg 4: 2, 6, 10, 17



Go the Baby!



Cheers, Sal





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