The 2020 Lexus Melbourne Cup will be memorable.
The Cup always is.
It’s our greatest race. It’s the race that stops the nation as 24 of the greatest thoroughbred endurance athletes go into battle for the $7 million purse.
This year, no one will be there to see the unveiling of another chapter of the Cup’s incredible story. Crowds are no-go, such are the times we currently live but eyeballs all over the globe will be glued to the TV, ears pricked listening to Matt Hill’s call of the richest 3200m handicap in the world.
Who will win the 2020 renewal of the Melbourne Cup… here goes…
IN THE HUNT – THE CONTENDERS
Anthony Van Dyck – Aidan O’Brien, Hugh Bowman $8
Brilliant in defeat in the Caulfield Cup, settling back in the field, looping them all and racing Verry Elleegant to the line on her preferred ground despite giving her a few kg.
The son of Galileo is one of the most well credentialed horses ever to venture into this part of the world. My only query is whether the Caulfield Cup was his race to win and this is a throw at the stumps after the fact – a throw which has a great chance of striking a blow.
From gate three, jockey Hugh Bowman can cruise into any position he really wants. Some query his prowess over two miles, I’m not thinking that will stop him here but he does have to carry 58.5kg.
Master of Reality – Joseph O’Brien, Ben Melham $26
Was runner-up last year then relegated to fourth on protest after he ran all over the track in the last half furlong. Ben Melham has enjoyed some success for Lloyd and Nick Williams and we know the O’Brien horses (Joseph or Aidan) are of the highest quality. His form in Ireland is not mouth-watering but more than competitive. Happy to take a ticket about him around 25/1. Son-of-a-gun Joseph O’Brien is aiming for his second Cup victory at just age 27.
Twilight Payment – Joseph O’Brien, Jye McNeil $26
Another Williams entrant who has been set for this after running middle of the pack last year. A winner at two miles and a winner at his most recent start, plus his third in the Irish St. Ledger is good enough form to be featuring again in the Cup.
20/1 is reasonable enough and it will not surprise me to see the navy silks with the white armbands saluting.
Prince of Arran – Charlie Fellowes, Jamie Kah $11
He thrives so much when he comes out to Australia, you’d dare say the owners have given consideration to leaving him here. Has back-to-back Cup placings to his name but you get the feeling he is primed for an even better performance in 2020. Jamie Kah jumps on and she’s the in-form hoop in the land. Can win. I’ll be having a ticket with his name on it although I think the 10/1 on offer is a little tight.
Surprise Baby – Paul Preusker, Craig Williams $10
Ever since destroying them as an unknown commodity in an Adelaide Cup, many have considered the Horsham horse a Melbourne Cup winner in the making. Last year’s run was arguably the run of the race and everything has been planned for this race so the lightly-raced six-year-old will go in with just 54.5kg. Craig Williams would’ve had the choice of many of these runners and he decided to go with Paul Preusker’s mount a long way out. He’s one where you can’t be losing if he wins.
Tiger Moth – Aidan O’Brien, Kerrin McEvoy $8
My top pick. Have had a ticket with his name on it for quite some time and nothing – aside from drawing barrier 23 – has swayed me. All information coming out of Werribee is that this young superstar in the making is the top of the European chances. Has just four career starts to his name and is a Northern Hemisphere three-year-old which has been the profile to follow in the past few renewals of this great race. He may need to be something special to win, but something special he may well be.
In the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate, incredibly strong money has come for the European raiders (Anthony Van Dyck – Caulfield Cup and Sir Dragonet – Cox Plate) so watch the markets closely late in the piece.
WON’T BE WINNING
Avilius – James Cummings, John Allen $41
Brilliant in the Caulfield Cup when I thought these types of races were beyond him. Would’ve been in the placings had he not been bowled over at Caulfield. Would love rain.
Vow And Declare – Danny O’Brien, Jamie Mott $51
Last year’s winner cannot repeat! He’s just not going anywhere near as well as he was and to be frank, he had may favours in last year’s race as well. 50/1 chance.
Sir Dragonet – Ciaron Maher & Dave Eustace, Glen Boss $10
Controversial after his dominant Cox Plate win where he looked to hit the line harder than anything. My knock is the track being dry. He had everything to suit last time out but will have less things in his favour here and will be up against more powerful European opposition. Against him but I would not be opposed to seeing his owners do more dancing on social media.
Very Elleegant – Chris Waller, Mark Zahra $11
Caulfield Cup champ who was brave but had everything to suit. No rain here puts her back in the pack but the feeling is she could even improve over this trip. Her status will grow into legendary mare realms with a win here.
Dashing Willoughby – Andrew Balding, Michael Walker
Punctured in the Caulfield Cup after leading and most thought his spring was over. But, he’s reportedly bounced back and he’s won over the trip and beaten a former winner in Cross Counter.
Finche – Chris Waller, James McDonald $18
Again, I’m happy to oppose. Runs game races without winning many. Off the track in the Caulfield Cup and finished honestly and even with James McDonald aboard, I just can’t see it.
King of Leogrance – Danny O’Brien, Damian Lane $41
Seems to have very small chance of winning. Was excellent winning the Adelaide Cup but I think even the D O’Brien barn would admit he’s their third-string contender.
Russian Camelot – Danny O’Brien, Damien Oliver $13
Which was the Grand Final… Cox Plate or Melbourne Cup? I think he gets the trip but I’d prefer to back him at 20/1, not the shorter quote on offer.
Steel Prince – Anthony & Sam Freedman, William Pike $34
Fought on gamely in the Geelong Cup to secure a berth here. Was only a couple of lengths off the winner in last year’s Cup so has to be respected but not for mine.
The Chosen One – M. Baker & A. Forsman, Dan Stackhouse $41
Almost falls into the next category but his Caulfield Cup run was too good to ignore. Likes getting his toe into the ground so conditions will not suit here.
CASH BACK FOR LAST?
Mustajeer – Kris Lees, Michael Rodd $81
Going about as well as last year but his class is a rung or two below the very best horses he encounters here.
Ashrun – Andreas Wohler, Declan Bates $21
The camp admitted they were really eager to skip the Lexus but his run in the Geelong Cup meant he was no certainty to get in so they has no choice.
Stratum Albion – Willie Mullins, Jordan Childs $41
Hurdling is probably not the ideal form for a Melbourne Cup winner but Irish trainer Willie Mullins has form in this regard, doing the same with Max Dynamite who was placed in the Cup.
Warning – Anthony & Sam Freedman, Luke Currie $51
Derby winner who was just fair in the Caulfield Cup. Would need significant rain.
Etah James – Ciaron Maher & Dave Eustace, Billy Egan $101
Can run 3200m, won a Sydney Cup to get into the race but class is well down on most of these.
Oceanex – Mick Price & Michael Kent Jr, Dean Yendall $71
Fitness queries going into a Melbourne Cup when your absolute best form would see you at 70/1 anyway. No thanks.
Miami Bound – Danny O’Brien, Daniel Moor $41
Bounced back to form on Cox Plate day after some querying whether her racing days should be behind her. Rain would aide but rain not coming.
Persan – Ciaron Maher & Dave Eustace, Mick Dee $31
A progressive type who may be some winning hope this time next year. Has come along from a maiden win at Bendigo just this past May.
I’ve zeroed in on six winning hopes.
Five European raiders and a country Victorian from the Wimmera.
Anthony Van Dyck’s CV speaks volumes. It’s arguable whether we’ve seen a better horse come to our shores and compete in this race. Some wonder whether he will get two miles, based on his wide surging Caulfield Cup run, I doubt that’s a worry. My only knock is whether this race is only on the radar because he was unable to get past Verry Elleegant in the Caulfield Cup. Had he have won, would he even be here?
Williams duo, Master of Reality and Twilight Payment are capable, both are knockout hopes and both have performed well in this race before. At close to 30/1, I’d like a ticket with their names on them.
Prince of Arran is not a horse I had in my numbers in either of his Cup placings, but I’m on board now. They say they like gate one, Jamie Kah is airborne, his Caulfield Cup run was superb and he simply loves Australia. He’s well found in the market but the closer the race gets the more I think Aussie Arran is in this up to his ears.
Surprise Baby is the Aussie hope. A dashing run in last year’s Cup has seen Paul Preusker implement a 12-month plan to get him back to this point in the best shape possible.
Finally, my top pick. Everyone who likes Tiger Moth seems to be raving about him. There’s a Werribee Whisper that he may just be the next superstar to win a Melbourne Cup.
Travelling foreman TJ Comerford made a statement which pricked my ears on RSN this week when asked about Tiger Moth’s racing pattern from his wide barrier. He said, ‘he may just be a freak so I don’t think it will matter where he’s ridden.’
This is a stable that prepares many of the best horses in the world so to hear a statement like that – that’s enough for me. Go The Moth!!
1 Tiger Moth $8
2 Prince of Arran $11
3 Anthony Van Dyck $8
4 Master of Reality $26 / Twilight Payment $26
Others I like on the Melbourne Cup Flemington card;
R1 N1 Ingratiating ($2.40) – I was tipped him on debut, forgot to bet and he duly saluted at $12. The son of Frosted may be a real nice colt.
R5 N2 Aintnodeeldun ($2.20) – perhaps expected to see him follow a Derby path but this should be much easier and at $2.20, you’d hope so.
R8 N1 Homesman ($4.80) – The best version of Homesman is a serious horse. He smashed them first up at The Valley. Market will be key here.
R10 N17 The Astrologist ($5.50) – Could be on the path to some nice races in the sprinter/miler sphere. Draws out here, which could be a plus at the end of the day but whether he enjoys the Flemington straight or not will be the difference between winning and losing.
Enjoy a massive – albeit unique – Melbourne Cup day.