Aussie racing’s day of days is upon us – here’s our take on the 2015 Melbourne Cup runners.
SNOW SKY probably guns the accelerator from his 16 barrier to take a prominent spot early. He’s tough and ran a brave 5th in Mongolian Khan’s Caulfield Cup. It’s always a plus when the visitors have a prep run. Rider Ryan Moore dribbles Group 1 one wins.
CRITERION is arguably the most stylish steed in the Cup – he’s gorgeous, along with $6.7 million in earnings. Tenacious 2nd to Winx in the Cox Plate and his gate 4 is ideal. By a Golden Slipper winner Sebring, he’s now in unchartered territory over 3200m.
FAME GAME has a 3400m win in his five win CV. Most importantly his finishing speed extends right up to these extreme distances. A primer 6th in the Caulfield Cup fits right in with his previous Japanese win patterns. Goes close.
OUR IVANHOE is prepared by Lee and Anthony Freedman. Their stable has already saddled five Melbourne Cup winners. Widely travelled ex-German stayer and not a thing wrong with his third in Caulfield Cup. Leave him out of exotics at your peril.
BIG ORANGE attempts the Vintage Crop trick of jetting in to win without a local prep run. Many Northern Hemisphere stayers have failed in this approach and it’s 11 weeks since his 14 lengths 7th at York. Doesn’t tick many boxes and will probably lead.
HARTNELL also tries for an unusual leap – straight out of the Cox Plate when he wound-up 5th. He doesn’t need a lot of racing and ran a ripper 6th in Preferment’s Turnbull Stakes at Flemington the run before. Godolphin-owned, he’s classy and winner over the trip in Europe.
HOKKO BRAVE appears the back-up behind Fame Game in another Japanese raid. Not too bad when 10th in the Caulfield Cup but only winner of five races so far, despite being a seasoned 8YO. It’s the oldest any Cup winner has been since 1860, with only two winners in this age bracket.
MAX DYNAMITE also follows in the footsteps of legendary import Vintage Crop – he’s a winner over the jumps. Best recommendation is a runaway win over the Cup trip last start at York, under another legend, Frankie Dettori. No local runs though, and 11 weeks since York. Tricky to assess.
RED CADEAUX is a giant and the crowd favourite. He keeps coming back for Cup raids from his UK base and a series of seconds earns him the ‘bridesmaid’ tag. In the nicest possible way! It’s now 11 weeks since his last run but all class and heart with a massive $8.1 million in earnings.
TRIP TO PARIS may well inherit the position of Red Cadeaux in coming years as the pair represent master international conditioner Ed Dunlop. Showed he had settled in perfectly with a dashing 2d in the Caulfield Cup. Can he stay? Can he what, with a 4000 metres win at group 1 level. Very hard to beat.
WHO SHOT THE BARMAN loves Flemington and loves 3200 metres with two wins over the trip. Ran 3d to Protectionist in 2014 and his 2015 campaign has had one objective - improve last year’s rank by two spots. It can happen and Blake Shinn is already a Cup-winner.
SKY HUNTER provides able representation for the juggernaut Godolphin operation. He’s the winner of 6 from 11 and looks to get a cruisy run from the 7 gate. Rider William Buick is one of the best in the world – but here’s another raider without a previous Aussie hit-out.
THE OFFER returned to winning ways in the Bendigo Cup and the six day back-up is often a winning formula, as Gai Waterhouse fully knows. Gai won with Fiorente two years ago, ridden by Damien Oliver now aiming for his fourth win in the Cup. This tough-as-tungsten stayer has returned to top form so watch out, he’s already a 3200 metres hero in the 2014 Sydney Cup.
GRAND MARSHAL won the 2015 Sydney Cup with a late charge over the top of Who Shot The Barman. It’s his only 3200 metres task to date and rider Jim Cassidy will seek to retire on a high, having guided this one to 11th in the Caulfield Cup. One paced stayer so returning to 3200m helps.
PREFERMENT also hails from the all conquering Chris Waller yard and the class is obvious here – he’s a Victoria Derby winner with a penchant for Flemington. Undefeated in two goes at Headquarters, the biased Valley track rendered him non-competitive in Winx’s Cox Plate. A far more suitable task awaits this time under masterful Hugh Bowman.
QUEST FOR MORE at least had the benefit of a local run following his jaunt from the UK. After splitting Big Orange and Trip To Paris in the group 2 Goodwood Cup over 3200m he returned from a three month break to finish 16 of 17 in the Geelong Cup. Sticks on but needs a form reversal.
ALMOONQITH is a son of Dynaformer, sire of 2010 Melbourne Cup hero Americain. This one is also a grand sort and he crushed the Geelong Cup field two weeks ago. It’s a happy hunting ground for imported Melbourne Cup winners during the past decade, having yielded Dunaden and Americain. Big horse, big hope.
KINGFISHER hasn’t been to the races since an 8th to Aidan O’Brien stablemate Order Of St. George seven weeks ago. Ahem, his official beaten margin was 43.1 lengths that day in Ireland. Did run a most unlucky 2d to Trip To Paris in the Ascot Gold Cup so there’s good form in his makeup – also second to Australia in the Irish Derby last year.
PRINCE OF PENZANCE jumps from gate one and led most of the way when overpowered by The United States on the biased Moonee Valley track. Whether he possesses the class to mix it at the front end this time remains to be seen.
BONDI BEACH comes in as the least experienced runner – five starts. He a gawky staying type from Aidan O’Brien’s formidable stable and last raced seven weeks ago when second in the UK St. Leger at Doncaster. Had no trouble with 2937m and protested unsuccessfully after showing little ‘ping’.
SERTORIUS will be ridden by Saturday’s Derby winning rider Craig Newitt. Craig now faces a much tougher ask aboard the lone Aussie bred stayer, a last start 9th to Almoonqith in the Geelong Cup.
THE UNITED STATES is the pretty boy of the field with his distinctive white blaze and white socks. He’s a progressive stayer bouncing off a hollow Moonee Valley Cup win over 2500 metres. That’s his longest winning trip but son of perhaps the best sire in racing, Galileo. Maybe, maybe not.
EXCESS KNOWLEDGE raced his way into the Cup with a win in a traditional stepping stone race, the Lexus Stakes over 2500 metres. Gai Waterhouse nominated this handsome sort as her Cup horse last July and his late German sire Monsun could snare a Cup hat-trick, following wins by Fiorente and Protectionist. Real chance.
GUST OF WIND was pointed towards the Melbourne Cup after trouncing Winx in the ATC Oaks over 2400m last Easter. She’s a tough, hardy staying type racing in fine heart after her fourth in the Caulfield Cup. A lightweight show after that display.
Check out the full TAB.com.au market for the Melbourne Cup here.
G1 - The Bet365 Celebration Steeple Chase (class 1)
G3 - The Bet365 Gold Cup Steeple Chase (handicap) (class 1)
G1 - Aes Champion 4yo Hdle
Grade B - Setanta Sport H'cap Hdle
Grade B - Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe H'cap Chase