Following the release of the official Melbourne Cup 2014 field this afternoon, today’s Lexus Stakes winner Signoff has been the best backed horse to win the race that stops a nation.
The 24-horse field and Ladbrokes.com.au markets for this year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m), running as Flemington Race 7 at 3:00pm next Tuesday, is led by Japanese-trained Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti.
Melbourne Cup odds on the Heart’s Cry seven-year-old to complete the Caulfield Cup – Melbourne Cup double for the first time since Ethereal (2001) have eased out from $4.80 to $5.
Zac Purton has the ride on the galloper who carries 58.5kg after a half-kilo penalty for the Caulfield Cup victory, with Think Big (1975) the last Melbourne Cup winner to salute with that weight.
There are now four other single figure hopes in the Melbourne Cup markets including the Darren Weir-trained Signoff backed in from as long as $21 to $8 after making the field.
The Authorzied gelding was in danger of missing a run in the world’s richest handicap but earned a Melbourne Cup ballot exemption with his big 2.5 length win in the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) on Victoria Derby Day this afternoon.
He was also penalised 1kg for the Lexus win but still gets in on the 51kg lightweight meaning he meets the favourite 7.5kg better in the weights so surely must be considered for an upset Melbourne Cup result.
Signoff now backs-up in three days in the Melbourne Cup with ‘The Magic Man’ Joao Moreira retaining the ride.
Occupying the second line of Melbourne Cup betting and the shortest priced of the local hopes to hold off the 11-strong international raid this year is then the Kris Lees-trained Lucia Valentina at $7.
One of three mares in the race out to become the first female Melbourne Cup winner since Makybe Diva (2003, 2004, 2005), the Savabeel four-year-old has been steady in the markets since winning the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at the track on October 4.
She then went out as the favourite in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) but lost few admirers when third after a wide run in the best Melbourne Cup form line to follow in recent years.
Lucia Valentina is one of 10 horses in the Melbourne Cup field coming via the Caulfield Cup this year along with the favourite Admire Rakti and is an excellent chance getting in on just 53kg with Kerrin McEvoy riding.
The money is also coming for German stayer Protectionist ($7.50) who carries 56.5kg with Ryan Moore aboard.
No European Melbourne Cup runner has won the race without a previous lead-up down under since Vintage Crop (1993) and that form holds for Andreas Wohler’s Monsun stallion who ran an eye-catching fourth making up lots of late ground in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield on October 11.
Rounding out the hopefuls under $10 in betting is then the Robert Hickmott-trained Fakwner who is joined in the field by $101 roughie Sea Moon.
Winner of the Caulfield Cup last year, Fawkner pays $8.50 to improve on a narrow second behind Irish raider Adelaide in the Cox Plate under weight-for-age conditions last weekend.
If successful he will hand owner Lloyd Williams his fifth ‘Loving Trophy’ following his previous victories with Green Moon (2012), Efficient (2007), What A Nuisance (1985) and Just A Dash (1981).
Two other runners are then under $20 with European visitors Mutual Regard ($11) and Red Cadeaux ($17).
Champion Irish jockey-turned trainer Johnny Murtagh saddles-up two horses in the classic this year including his Hernando six-year-old Mutual Regard who was last seen winning the Ebor Handicap (2800m) at York on August 23.
Also debuting down under for Murtagh is then Royal Diamond, a Steven Arnold mount paying $51 in the latest markets at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Red Cadeaux meanwhile is out to become the first nine-year-old Melbourne Cup winner in history after three previous attempts that have included two second place finishes.
Also represented with more than one runner in the field along with Johnny Murtagh and Robert Hickmott are Melbourne’s Peter Moody and Sydney’s four-time premiership winning trainer Chris Waller.
Moody, of Black Caviar fame, saddles up Brambles and Lidari to be ridden by Luke Nolen and Ben Melham respectively.
Both are $41 chances and finished in the money behind Lucia Valentina in the Turnbull when second (Lidari) and third (Brambles) four weeks ago.
Brambles has since had two other runs with a brave Caulfield Cup fourth then a credible ninth in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) today to keep him ticking over.
Lidari also ran in the Caulfield cup when just over two lengths away from the winner in sixth in his final lead-up.
Chris Waller then shoots for his first Melbourne Cup victory off two Group 1 Victoria Derby Day wins with his The Metropolitan hope Junoob and Who Shot Thebarman both paying $26, along with Sydney Cup runner-up over the 3200m Opinion ($67).
The $201 outsider in the Melbourne Cup markets then is Unchain My Heart, the only previous winner over the track and distance having won the Andrew Ramsden Stakes.
See below for the latest Melbourne Cup odds, courtesy of Ladbrokes.com.au, which will be updated again after the 2014 Melbourne Cup barrier draw live from 7:00pm (AEDT) this evening.