Tomorrow Flemington will host the most illustrious and anticipated horse racing event of the year, the coveted Group 1 $5.65million Emirates Melbourne Cup. Here we will have a look at the top five horses leading the betting markets and examine their chances of success in Australia’s richest thoroughbred race.
There has been much support for Bart “Cups King” Cumming’s three entrants as the masterful trainer looks prepped to claim his 13th Cup victory, but a few lesser-raced acceptors have also galloped into contention with impressive victories this spring. So, in a field lacking the usual make-up of genuine, champion stayers, will a middle-distance runner improve their form and take home the Loving Cup? Or will Cummings do it again, proving once again why he is the most prolific Australian trainer.
Bookies and the punters have established six clear, genuine chances for the Cup – Viewed, Alcopop, Roman Emperor, Shocking, Master O’Reilly and Daffodil.
Current Odds: $4.80
Jockey: Brad Rawiller
Trainer: Bart Cummings
Owner: Dato Tan Chin Nam
Breeding: by SCENIC (IRE) from LOVERS KNOT (NZ)
Prizemoney: $5 883 530
The defending Melbourne Cup champion Viewed is definitely considered to be Cummings’ best chance of a 13th Cup victory. The six-year-old bay won last year’s race at long odds of $41, but after displaying champion form since then claiming an empathic victory in this year’s Caulfield Cup and running a fast-finishing third in the Mackinnon Stakes in a perfect final trail race on Saturday, there is little wonder why he has been installed as the favourite for this year. He has had an old-fashioned Cup preparation, timed to perfection by Cummings and is the one to beat this year.
There are some concerns over the fact that Viewed is the topweight this year, carrying a hefty 58kg, 5kg more than last year. With that weight Viewed and hoop Brad Rawiller cannot allow for anything to go wrong if they want to lock in the Caulfield – Melbourne Cups double this year. If successful, Viewed will be only the fifth horse in history it win with 58kg and within the top four highest-weighted victors in the last five decades. Also some worry over the fact that Viewed sustained an injury during his Mackinnon Stakes run on Saturday, although Cummings has assured punters the wound was superficial.
Viewed will start from barrier nine, which has produced 2007 winner Effiecient and Rawiller is reportedly happy with the starting position.
Current Odds: $5
Jockey: Dom Tourneur
Trainer: Jake Stephens
Breeding: by JEUNE (GB) from IOTA OF LUCK
Prizemoney: $267 255
Battling for favouritism with defending Cup winner Viewed, tomorrow is set to be a battle between the lightly raced five-year-old who has had only 10 career starts for under $300 000 in prize money, up against the Cummings’ champion that has earned over $5.8million in 33 starts. Alcopop has been making speedy progress and although relatively untested at the 3200m distance, he is lightly weighted. This combined with the fact that he tends to settle in the pace well and pull off a strong finish might get him over the line first making for the true fairytale story of the carnival.
Alcopop came into genuine Cup contention when he thrashed his rivals, including Lexus Stakes winner Shocking, in the Herbert Power Handicap (2400m) last month at Caulfield. There have been some doubts, however, regarding the quality of the field he defeated there. Although he won’t have had a run for 24 days come the Melbourne Cup, each horse needs a different preparation and there have been plenty of winners to come off unusual lead-ups. And with connections saying he has improved greatly since his Herbert Power victory, Alcopop will sure put up a fight.
He will start from gate 12, which should suit his racing pattern of settling midfield. And if any jockey knows the right way to ride this emerging talent it is Dom Tourneur, who has been aboard Alcopop in six of his ten career races. A win in the Cup will make Alcopop the seventh Herbert Power Stakes winner to progress to a Cup victory in the same year. But he is the son of 1994 Cup winner Jeune, so a victory is in his breeding.
Current Odds: $9
Jockey: Hugh Bowman
Trainer: Bart Cummings
Breeding: by MONTJEU (IRE) from GUSSY GODIVA (NZ)
Prizemoney: $1 411 800
Roman Emperor is another top fancy from Cummings, and the elite trainer combined with pro hoop Hugh Bowman might just prove to be a lethal combination on the field. He finished second to stablemate and key rival Viewed in the Caulfield Cup, but managed to miss a penalty from Greg Carpenter. This gives Roman Emperor one up on the favourite, as he is only weighted 54kg, 4kg under weight-for-age, which may give him the advantage he needs. Prior to his strong Caulfield Cup performance, he won the AJC Derby. With a win and a second place both over 2400m in his last two starts, Roman Emperor certainly has showed the form needed to win a Cup. At four-years-old he is also the right age for success in the race, and Cummings has won plenty of Cups with four-year-olds including Galilee and Saintly.
Current Odds: $10
Jockey: Corey Brown
Trainer: Mark Kavanagh
Breeding: by STREET CRY (IRE) from MARIA DI CASTIGLIA (GB)
Prizemoney: $432 525
Could this lightly-raced runner from the Mark Kavanagh stable be the horse to take the Cup from Cummings this year’ Galloping into contention for tomorrow’s event after an impressive Group 3 Lexus Stakes victory on Saturday, Shocking had flown under the radar until Derby Day, despite a solid preparation that included a second to fancied Cup runner Alcopop in the Herbert Power Stakes in October.
One of the Cup field’s lightweights this year, carrying just 51kg, Shocking drops 2.5kg from his Lexus victory which could help get him over the line tomorrow.
Starting from the wide barrier 22 might be Shocking’s downfall however, and jockey Corey Brown will have to work hard at the start. But Brown has an added determination this year, after a riding runner-up Bauer in one of the closest photo-finishes in Cup history.
If Shocking does follow up his Lexus Stakes win with a Melbourne Cup victory he will become only the tenth horse to do so since 1870. The last horse to claim the Lexus Stakes – Melbourne Cup double was Brew in 2000. A solid Each Way choice.
Current Odds: $13
Jockey: Vlad Duric
Trainer: Danny O’Brien
Breeding: by O’REILLY (NZ) from WITHOUT REMORSE (NZ)
Prizemoney: $2 679 400
One of the better valued entries with a genuine chance, Master O’Reilly seems to have had the perfect preparation. He had a real pipe-opener in the Mackinnon Stakes where he placed fifth on Saturday and before that had a strong run in the Caulfield Cup, which is considered the best form guide to the Melbourne Cup. In the Cup last year Master O’Reilly finished a brave fourth to Viewed, so let’s see what he can do this year.
Current Odds: $15
Jockey: Chris Munce
Trainer: Kevin Gray
Breeding: by NO EXCUSE NEEDED (GB) from SPRING (NZ)
Prizemoney: $844 124
The only mare with a decent chance this year, at $15 Daffodil will provide truly excellent value on the day if controversial jockey Chris Munce can take her all the way. The poor barrier draw of 21 has affected her chances though, but there has still been plenty of support for her from the public in the last few days. The Kiwi raider has had a good preparation including a wonderful run in the Caulfield Cup for fourth and has apparently progressed since then. The distance shouldn’t worry her either, having won the AJC Oaks over 2400m previously.
Can handle all track conditions, but a bit of rain will boost her chances as she seems to thrive on wet ground as she proved in her Windsor Park Plate win. So with a bit of rain and a bit of luck Daffodil might provide New Zealand with their first Melbourne Cup winner since Ethereal in 2001.