By Josh Robertson ( @joshrobbo44 )
The biggest day in Australian horse racing is upon us, with Tuesday marking the 153rd edition of the Melbourne Cup. The 2013 edition is being considered one of the toughest ever and with the past two winners returning as well as the 2011 cup runner-up Red Cadeaux returning for his third cup, interest will definitely be high.
The Melbourne Cup is the hardest race to pick a winner due to the gruelling nature of the race and the wide number of different form lines it brings into it.
The field looks this way:
1 Dunaden J: Jamie Spencer T: Mikel Delzangles
The 2011 Melbourne Cup winner returns for a third Melbourne Cup and will need to break to 70 year old records to do so. These records being the first horse since Peter Pan in 1932/1934 to win two Melbourne Cups in non-successive years and the first horse since Catalogue in 1938 to win the Cup as an Eight year old.
Dunaden comes into the race without an Australian run this year unlike the past two years although this year the cup was more a last minute change of plans rather than a targeted assault like the previous years. This year Dunaden has had an eight week break where he finished second last in the Group 2 Prix Foy in France but was not disgraced behind star Japanese horse Orfevre. Prior to that run Dunaden had been set for France’s top staying race the Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe but after that run in the Prix Foy it showed that he was significantly outclassed by his likely rivals. Since last years cup, Dunaden has been consistently good in some of the top staying races in the world including the Sheema Classic in Dubai where he finished fourth behind St Nicholas Abbey.
His form says don’t rule him out but the history of the Melbourne Cup says that it is highly unlikely he will be able to win a second Melbourne Cup.
2 Green Moon J: Brett Prebble T: Robert Hickmott
The defending Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon returns to add a second cup to his collection and give owner Lloyd Williams his fourth Melbourne Cup win and his first horse to give him back to back wins.
Green Moon has been targeted at the 2013 cup almost straight after winning the 2012 cup.
This year Green Moon comes into the Melbourne Cup through the Cox Plate which he did last year however even though both runs have been average, the 2012 run was much better than this year’s. This spring Green Moon is coming into the cup at his fourth run of the preparation with all of his three runs being evenly spaced and did have a minor setback back in October when he had to be scratched from the Caulfield Stakes due to an elevated temperature.
Trying to win a Melbourne Cup is hard enough as it is, let alone a second, unfortunately I just can’t see him winning a second cup, he had the run made to suit last year and is up 3kg from last year will also make his run harder. As with all team Williams horses, they are definitely place chances but can’t see him winning.
3 Red Cadeaux J: Gerald Mosse T: Ed Dunlop
The 2011 Cup runner up, Red Cadeaux comes back to Flemington for the third year in a row and will be looking to give French jockey Gerald Mosse his second Melbourne Cup.
Red Cadeaux has had nine runs since last year’s Cup, for just one win albeit the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase in December as well as running second in the world’s richest race the Dubai World Cup.
Just like previous Melbourne Cup campaigns, Red Cadeaux comes into the cup without an Australian run which is always a question. His last run he finished fourth in the Irish St Leger behind another of this year’s Melbourne Cup runners Voleuse De Coeurs beaten 11 lengths.
Although his latest runs in Europe have been average, his best runs have been when he has travelled outside of England such as his Dubai third and last year’s win in Hong Kong.
I can’t see him winning this race because he hasn’t had the right preparation for the Cup and the distance beaten in the Irish St Leger is also a concern, only a rough place chance in my opinion.
4 Sea Moon J: Steven Arnold T: Robert Hickmott
The second of the Lloyd Williams owned gallopers, Sea Moon is considered to be one of the best horses to be bought from Europe to race in Australia.
Sea Moon started his first Australian preparation with very high expectations from both the stable and from racing pundits alike, however after an indifferent start with two bad failures in the Makybe Diva over 1600m and the Underwood Stakes over 1800m many people began to jump off the Sea Moon bandwagon.
However, it soon proved that all Sea Moon needed was extra distance in his races and was quickly stepped up to the 2500m in the Listed The Bart Cummings where Sea Moon looked like he managed to get his nose in front on the line but after the rider of the second placed horse Glen Boss lodged a protest which was upheld by the stewards Sea Moon was dropped back to second. There was no concerns whatsoever last start when he sat on the speed and raced away to take out the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield last start.
Once Sea Moon has got over more suitable distances he has run really well although he is yet to have a run of the 3200m he looks like he will relish it and has form around some of the worlds top stayers. Definite winning chance and will be in the finish.
5 Brown Panther J: Richard Kingscote T: Tom Dascombe
If there was ever a prize for celebrity factor in the cup, then Brown Panther would win the competition hands down. Brown Panther is owned by former Liverpool and England superstar Michael Owen and rather unusually there has been more interest in the owner rather than the horse.
Brown Panther has been in good form and if you look past his last start fifth in an unsuitable race and before that his only two runs this year have been wins over 2400m at Pontefract and then won over the 3200m in the Goodwood Cup which has been previously used as a regular warm up for the cup.
Brown Panther has the advantage of having a run and win over the Melbourne Cup distance of 3200m. However, he does come into the Cup with just three runs in the space of 12 months which then raises questions about fitness, although all three runs have been spaced and did win fresh back in June. Reports coming out of Werribee have been that he has been working really well and is primed for the Cup. Brown Panther goes down as a winning chance but is more likely to finish in the placings rather actually winning the race.
6 Fiorente J: Damien Oliver T: Gai Waterhouse
Another of the class of 2012, Fiorente finished second last year and is looking to give Gai Waterhouse her first ever Melbourne Cup.
Since his Australian debut in last years Melbourne Cup, Fiorente has not run a bad race which includes a somewhat surprise win in the Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes over 1600m which has been followed with excellent runs in the Turnbull Stakes and then when ridden upside down finished an outstanding third in the Cox Plate.
In good form, Fiorente has shown why he is currently considered the favourite for the Cup. His run last year shows that the distance shouldn’t be a problem for him and is in really good form. It is the one to beat and has drawn well and looks to be the best chance for Gai to get her first ever Melbourne Cup win.
7 Foreteller J: Craig Newitt T: Chris Waller
First time cup runner Foreteller, is one of the more unusal runners in the Melbourne Cup of 2013. A former European galloper, Foreteller has been a successful middle distance galloper who has only been over a staying trip once when he finished fifth in the Group 1 The BMW over 2400m at Rosehill back in April.
This preparation Foreteller has had a good but long campaign that stretches back to August and he has tasted success just once in the preparation albeit at Group 1 level in the Makybe Diva Stakes back in September beating the one time cup favourite Puissance De Lune.
Foreteller comes off an impressive run in the Cox Plate running on very well to finish fourth behind Shamus Award.
Given the fact that distance was a concern back in April when he ran in The BMW over 2400m, there is an even bigger concern about the 3200m and seeing that he has never really been over any staying trips, it won’t be until after the race that we ultimately know whether Foreteller stays the 3200m. Overall, can’t see him winning the cup but Chris Waller does know how to get the extra bit out of his stayers but still only a rough place chance at very best.
8 Dandino J: Ryan Moore T: Marco Botti
Continuing the trend of Australian owned, European based horses, Dandino is looking to go two places better than his stablemate Jakkalberry who finished third in last years cup for the same stable and owners.
Dandino has had an excellent run in the Caulfield Cup where he flashed home out wide to grab second finishing just over a length behind Fawkner. Prior to coming to Australia, Dandino finished second in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and then won the American St Leger at Arlington (Chicago) back in August.
If Dandino can follow the success that his stablemate Jakkalberry had last year then he is a winning chance. Distance could be a slight query given his only run over a 3000m plus trip he finshed almost 30 lengths second last over 3300m back in August 2011, but the American win was over 2700m which is a bit of a positive for him.
9 Ethiopia J: Rhys McLeod T: Pat Carey
Another horse that is back for a second run in the Melbourne Cup, Ethiopia will be looking to have a lot more luck than he did in 2012, after finishing 63 lengths last after injuring himself in the cup.
Ethiopia will need to show some massive improvement from what he has been showing in recent times, with just two runs where he has been able to finish within 3 lengths of the winner, being the Makybe Diva Stakes first up where he finished fifth and the his run on Saturday where he came from last to finish fourth behind Ruscello in one of the weakest Lexus Handicaps in a while.
Distance shouldn’t be a problem given that his only career win was in the 2012 ATC Derby over 2400m. The query is his form which is questionable for any major staying race let alone the Melbourne Cup. Ethiopia is one of my favourite horses and was my top pick for the cup in 2012, but given his form I can’t even find a place for him the top half of the field.
10 Fawkner J: Nicholas Hall T: Robert Hickmott
The third of the Lloyd Williams runners, Fawkner was a surprise winner of the Caulfield Cup given the fact that there was a lot of people questioning his ability to run out 2400m.
This time last year, Fawkner was coming off a Group 3 win in a 1400m race in a Group 3 on Derby Day before running second beaten just 0.1 of a length behind Happy Trails in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes over the mile, exactly half the distance of the Melbourne Cup.
This year, Fawkner has been a big surprise packer given that he started the year off finishing just over four lengths behind Black Caviar over 1200m at Moonee Valley.
This campaign, Fawkner has been consistent in all his runs and has hit winning form at the right time winning the Caulfield Cup coming off a good run in the Turnbull Stakes.
The distance is his biggest query given that people were doubting his ability to run out 2000m in the Turnbull and then the 2400m of the Caulfield Cup. Is definitely a quality horse and if he runs out the 3200m then he will be a winning chance for sure.
11 Mourayan J: Brenton Avdulla T: Robert Hickmott
The outsider of the field and the third of the Lloyd Williams runners, Mourayan is a horse that has showed he can handle the 3200m having won the Sydney Cup back in the Autumn over the same trip at Randwick.
This preparation, Mourayan has been only fair in his three runs though has been mixing distances between the mile first up where he finished seventh in the Makybe Diva then finished a disappointing eighth in the Metropolitan Handicap over 2400m at Randwick and then on Saturday finished a disappointing seventh in the Mackinnon Stakes over 2000m.
Mourayan will be looking to end his career on a high, with owner Lloyd Williams confirming on radio that he will become a dressage horse. Although he has won over the 3200m, it was in the Sydney Cup where his best form of late has been. Unlikely to finish in the placings and will be closer to finishing in the bottom half of the field, rather than the front.
12 Seville J: Hugh Bowman T: Robert Hickmott
The fifth of the Lloyd Williams runners, Another ex-European galloper, Seville has only had one win since coming to Australia and has seemed to take a while to acclimatise to the Australian conditions.
This preparation started off rather poorly for Seville where he finished last in races over unsuitable distances and then was only fair over 2000m at Caulfield where he finished ninth in the Naturalism Stakes. Seville was then sent up to Sydney for their main staying race of the Spring the Metropolitan Handicap over 2400m where he had the last crack and got up to win the race. His last run before the cup like many of the Williams horses was in the Cox Plate and although finished seventh it was the perfect .
Seville is yet to win further than 2400m although has only had the one run past the distance where he finished fourth over 2900m back in September of 2011. Is a definite winning chance and as I write this preview the more I become attracted to him as one of my main picks.
13 Super Cool J: Corey Brown T: Mark Kavanagh
A Melbourne Cup winning combination comes back together here, with Corey Brown and Mark Kavanagh combining to win the 2009 Melbourne Cup with Shocking.
The 2013 Australian Cup winner, Super Cool hasn’t returned to the level this preparation that saw him win the Australian Cup back in March. The preparation started off well for Super Cool finishing third first up over 1400m in the Memsie Stakes and then finished fourth in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes. The wheels then began to fall off the campaign with no luck in the Turnbull Stakes before a rather average effort finishing third behind star mare Atlantic Jewel in a five horse field at Caulfield. His final lead up run into the Cup came in the Cox Plate where he stuck on well to finish fifth.
The biggest question when it comes to Super Cool is the distance, he has only had one run at a staying trip which was 12 months ago in the Victoria Derby where he finished second behind Fiveandahalfstar who he managed to beat in the Australian Cup. Super Cool has the class to win a major race, the only concern for him is the distance.
14 Masked Marvel J: Michael Rodd T: Robert Hickmott
The final of the Lloyd Williams runners, sees another Melbourne Cup winning combination recombine with Michael Rodd winning the Cup in 2007 on Efficient for Lloyd Williams although was trained by Graeme Rogerson
Masked Marvel is another of the ex-European gallopers and strangely has form around four of the cup runners dating back to September 2011 when Masked Marvel was a winner of the 2900m St Leger, beating cup runners Sea Moon, Seville and Brown Panther. More recently however Masked Marvel has had four lead up runs in his first Australian Campaign for just a third in the Group 2 Hill Stakes at Randwick then followed it up with a second in the Group 3 Craven Plate also at Randwick. Like most of the Williams runners he comes out of the Cox Plate where he settled along way back and stayed there.
Masked Marvel definitely has the quality for winning the cup, his last run in the Cox Plate is a concern and the form around his races has only been fair, quality says that he is a place chance but form is a query.
15 Mount Athos J: Craig Williams T: Luca Cumani
Another horse that ran in 2012, Mount Athos is looking to become Luca Cumani’s first Melbourne Cup winner after eight straight attempts.
Mount Athos is in worse form than last year although he has been competing in harder races than he was in 2012. This year he comes through runs at Goodwood finishing eighth in the Group 2 Goodwood Cup before finishing second in the Listed March Stakes over 2800m in August.
Mount Athos is being touted as one of the horses to beat but personally can’t see what the fuss is about, form coming into this is worse than last year, has drawn a bad barrier. Reports are that his work at Werribee has been fantastic but have doubts about his chances, personally think place is best.
16 Royal Empire J: Kerrin McEvoy T: Saeed Bin Suroor
Global racing empire Godolphin will be looking to secure their first Melbourne Cup 15 years after sending their first horse in 1998.
Royal Empire has been touted as one of the best Godolphin chances to win the Melbourne Cup although that tag gets put upon most Godolphin runners that come to Australia. This campaign Royal Empire has finished in the top two in all four of his runs since July with two wins in Newbury over 2000m and 2700m which have been followed two seconds over 2400m in Group 3 races at Kempton Park and at Royal Ascot.
Royal Empire has been in great form over in the UK. The distance is the only query having not been out to 3200m before but wouldn’t be here if the Goldophin stable believed he couldn’t.
17 Voleuse De Coeurs J: James McDonald T: Michael Moroney
A recent Australian purchase, Voleuse De Coeurs was formerly trained by Irish master Dermot Weld who made history by becoming the first European trainer to win the Melbourne Cup in 1993.
Voleuse De Coeurs has been in good form in Ireland with a huge 6 length win in the Irish St Leger over some of Europe’s top stayers including Red Cadeaux who was a massive 11 lengths behind. Prior to that dominant win she has had four runs for a win, two seconds and a third,
Voleuse De Coeurs has the advantage of coming into the cup in winning form plus as also had two runs for two wins over the 3200m with an aggregate winning margin of 18 lengths. Has a good winning chance though the doubts from her original trainer are a concern, rough winning chance but a definite place hope.
18 Hawkspur J: Jim Cassidy T: Chris Waller
The second of the Chris Waller trained gallopers, Hawkspur is looking to give jockey Jim Cassidy a third Melbourne Cup thirty years after scoring his first win in 1983.
Hawkspur seems to be a forgotten horse when it comes to this race, the Caulfield Cup favourite comes into the race with mixed form where he finished seventh in the Caulfield Cup. The preparation prior has been good with excellent runs over races over the mile which included a win in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes at Randwick back in September.
Hawkspur doesn’t have a pedigree that would show he would be able to be a top line stayer with both his sire and damsire being sprinting/milers. The biggest concern for Hawkspur is the fact that he has done a lot of racing this year, with eleven runs in the space of six months which is a concern. Overall rating him as a big winning hope if he gets the right run.
19 Simenon J: Richard Hughes T: Willie Mullins
Irish jumper turned staying star, Simenon is looking to give Irish jumps trainer Willie Mullins his biggest ever flat winner.
Simenon an average jumper, has become one of the top European stayers this season which was shown when he finished second in the 4000m Royal Ascot Gold Cup behind Estimate owned by her majesty Queen Eliazbeth the second. His two runs since have been finishing second in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup over 3300m at York and was a good run finishing third at Caulfield in the Herbert Power Stakes over 2400m.
Simenon has to go down as a massive winning chance given the fact that he is in good form and has class by finishing second at Royal Ascot during their major carnival in one of the biggest features. Distance is not a problem given he was a winner of the Queen Alexandra in June 2012 over the 4350m, which is 1150m longer than the Melbourne Cup.
20 Ibicenco J: Luke Nolen T: Peter Moody
Another former European galloper now trained here in Australia, Ibicenco to some people is a controversial addition to the cup of 2013.
Ibicenco comes into the cup of a win in the Geelong Cup, a race that has been used as a stepping stone by many Cup winners including Media Puzzle, Americain and Dunaden. The form out of the Geelong Cup is rather questionable with no real super stars and the field was called a race for out of form ageing stayers and second tier stayers. Prior to that Ibicenco’s runs were only fair with aspects against but did have a good first up win over 1700m in late August.
Ibicenco is a horse that can be overlooked for the cup and there is nothing in his form that screams Melbourne Cup winner. Distance won’t be a problem with Ibicenco already having a win over 3200m at Sandown in a listed race. Would be struggling to see him finishing in the top half of the field let alone being a place or winning chance.
21 Verema J: Christophe Lemaire T: Alain de Royer Dupre
A Double winning French connections combine here looking to win their second respective Melbourne Cups with the trainer winning in 2010 with Americain and jockey Christophe Lemaire winning in 2011 riding Dunaden.
Verema is owned by his highness the Aga Khan and comes through to Australia in winning form after winning the Group 2 Prix Kergolay over 3000m back in August and prior to that won the Group 2 Prix De Nieuil over 2800m back in July.
Distance will not be a concern for Verema given she has not raced under 2100m at all in her career and in her past 9 starts has only raced once under 3000m and that was the 2800m win in July. Has the advantage of having both a trainer and jockey who are able to win the Melbourne Cup. Has to go down as one of the big winning hopes for the Cup.
22 Dear Demi J: Chris Munce T: Clarry Conners
Dear Demi, is looking to give jockey Chris Munce his second Melbourne Cup win but even more so is looking to give his owner John Singleton a multi-million dollar payday if she wins.
It has been one of the surprise packets of the spring with plenty of excellent runs in her campaign so far. She has sported two Group one third placings in the Underwood Stakes over 1800m and finished an excellent third in the Caulfield Cup. Dear Demi is coming off an excellent second placing in the Mackinnon Stakes and looks absolutely primed to win the Melbourne Cup.
Distance may be a slight query but she has shown she can run on from a fair way back and think she will relish the distance of 3200m. An advantage Dear Demi has is that she has had success at Flemington 12 months ago winning the VRC Oaks over 2500m. Dear Demi goes in as a rough winning chance but is an almost certain place hope.
23 Tres Blue J: Tommy Berry T: Gai Waterhouse
The second of the Gai Waterhouse runners, Tres Blue will be having his first run for the stable and in Australia.
Tres Blue comes to Australia in good form with back to back wins in his native France with wins in the Group 3 Prix De Reux over 2500m in August then followed up with a win in the Group 2 Prix Deauville also over 2500m three weeks later.
Tres Blue is an unusual runner in the cup coming off good form but question whether his lack of experience will mean that his best chance of the cup may be in the years to come. Distance maybe a query but it’s a wait and see prospect and his work at Werribee has been quite strong. Place Chance but can’t see him winning the race.
24 Ruscello J: Chad Schofield T: Ed Walker
A last minute Cup visitor, Ruscello makes the field after qualifying through winning the Lexus Handicap on Saturday.
After initially not looking likely to be a cup runner, Ruscello will more or less look to be just a horse making up the numbers. Back in England Ruscello was running consistently in the placings in ratings based handicaps which are a step down from what his competitors have been racing in. Coming to Australia Ruscello has had a preparation that was resembling a horse that connections were going to try and roll the dice to win the cup but didn’t look to be a main aim. His first Australian run was good albeit in a 0-84 race for horses with a rating of 84 and under.
I don’t see him taking a win or a place chance but will be a great experience for apprentice jockey Chad Schofield who scored his maiden Group 1 win last week on Shamus Award in the Cox Plate.
Overall it is set to be another cracker of a race and I’ve narrowed it down to my top 4 being, Fiorente, Seville, Brown Panther & Simenon