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The Hawk’s Comprehensive 2012 Melbourne Cup Preview – Who Will Win?

November 4, 2012

To skip to my summary of the race, click here.

The Melbourne Cup, the race that stops the nation, is upon us once again and the 2012 edition of the race looks something quite special.

As we get closer to 3pm on Tuesday, when the field jumps at the top of the Flemington straight and the country roars as one, it’s amazing to reflect on how much the Melbourne Cup has changed in recent years.

There’s no doubt the race would stop a nation even if 24 donkeys lined up on the first Tuesday in November, but the race’s stature continues to grow worldwide.

It is now the world’s staying championship, and it keeps getting better and better.

This year’s Melbourne Cup features 15 Group 1 winners from all around the world.

Reflecting the changing nature of the race is the fact that only two Australian-breds and four Kiwi-breds are in the final field. Irish-breds are represented on a large scale, with 10 horses, while three from the United States, two from Great Britain, two from France and one from Germany complete the line-up.

However, only eight are considered “internationals” with the rest to race for Australian trainers.

The usual players are still there – Bart Cummings, the “Cups King”, has two horses striving to give him a 13th success in the Melbourne Cup. Gai Waterhouse also has two horses as she aims for her first Cup, while leviathan owner Lloyd Williams has qualified a further two for the race. And Peter Moody, Black Caviar’s trainer, has two horses as he aims to win his first Melbourne Cup.

Dermot Weld, the only international trainer to win two Melbourne Cups, has returned, while Luca Cumani and Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor are also back.

There are some familiar horses too. The four horses that have filled the Melbourne Cup quinella the last two years – Americain, Maluckyday, Dunaden, Red Cadeaux – are here.

All in all, it makes for one fascinating Cup.

So who will win?

Just Horse Racing’s Andrew Hawkins loves the Melbourne Cup and is a devotee of the race that stops the nation.

He has compiled for you, once again, the most comprehensive preview you will find on the internet.

Here is The Hawk’s preview of the 152nd Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m):

1. DUNADEN (16)
Nicobar x La Marlia

Bred in: France
Nationality: France
Trainer: Mikel Delzangles
Jockey: Craig Williams
Weight: 59kg
Career Stats: 34:10-9-7
Last 5 Starts: 3326×1
Biggest Win: Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), Flemington, 1/11/2011
Age: 7
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $7

Last year’s Melbourne Cup winner. He came from France a little unheralded, but after victory in the Geelong Cup and the Melbourne Cup he received his just accolades. He has only won two races since, but they’ve been pretty good races – the Hong Kong Vase in December last year and the Caulfield Cup two weeks ago. He’s a top class galloper, clearly, who is probably at his best at 2400m. That said, he prevailed in the tightest ever Melbourne Cup finish last year over Red Cadeaux, so 3200m is obviously no issue. Jockey Craig Williams will be out to win the grand slam of racing – the four big races of the Australian turf (Golden Slipper, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate, Melbourne Cup), which he’ll complete if he wins the Melbourne Cup. After the pain of last year, he’ll be keen to make amends. The query this year is weight. He is going to have to carry 59kg if he is to join Archer (1861, 1862), Peter Pan (1932, 1934), Rain Lover (1968, 1969), Think Big (1974, 1975) and Makybe Diva (2003, 2004, 2005) as a multiple winner of the great race. No horse has carried that great a load since weights went metric in 1972 – although Makybe Diva carried the equivalent of 60.5kg (58kg plus the 2.5kg mares allowance) when she won her historic third Melbourne Cup in 2005. I don’t think he’ll have too many issues with the 59kg – a greater issue is the relative weight compared to other runners. Take Red Cadeaux, for instance. Last year, Dunaden carried 1kg more than Red Cadeaux. This year, he has to carry 3.5kg more than Ed Dunlop’s horse. It’s hard to say he can’t win, but I’ll be looking elsewhere. Place best for mine.

2. AMERICAIN (12)
Dynaformer x America

Bred in: United States
Nationality: France
Trainer: Alain de Royer-Dupre
Jockey: Damien Oliver
Weight: 58kg
Career Stats: 33:11-4-4
Last 5 Starts: 326×64
Biggest Win: Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), Flemington, 2/11/2010
Age: 8
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $5

2010 Melbourne Cup winner who is a favourite amongst Australian racing fans. He’s only finished outside the top four once in Australia, and that was over the unsuitable distance of 2000m in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April. He’s definitely had one of the more unconventional preparations for a Melbourne Cup – he stayed in Australia following his Zipping Classic win at Sandown last November, transferred to David Hayes at Euroa. He didn’t seem to be a happy horse at Euroa, even though he was joined by his handler Stephanie Nigge. He ran a first up third in the Australian Cup before running second in The BMW and sixth in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes – good runs, but not what was expected of him. In May, the decision was made to send him back to France to rejoin Alain de Royer-Dupre, with the intention of bringing him through the Werribee quarantine centre – a winning formula previously. He had one run in France, a disappointing sixth in the Prix Kergorlay, before coming back here. Incidentally, his run this year was almost identical to his run in the same race last year. He showed in the Caulfield Cup, when a huge fourth, that he would be a big Melbourne Cup chance and it is not surprising he is now favourite. The booking of Damien Oliver, who rides the Melbourne Cup as well as any jockey, is crucial. Americain showed last year he could carry 58kg and win – his run was as big as that of Dunaden and Red Cadeaux. He meets them both better at the weights, and he looks a big chance of becoming only the second horse to win two Melbourne Cups in non-consecutive years (Peter Pan won his two Cups in 1932 and 1934). Any rain around will only assist his prospects. Must rate as a big chance.

3. JAKKALBERRY (19)
Storming Home x Claba Di San Jore

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Italy/United Kingdom
Trainer: Marco Botti
Jockey: Colm O’Donoghue
Weight: 55.5kg
Career Stats: 25: 10-2-3
Last 5 Starts: 33x51x0
Biggest Win: Group 1 Gran Premio di Milano (2400m), San Siro (Italy), 13/6/2010
Age: 7
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $41

Italian Group 1 winner who came to Australia with a fair bit of hype from many in the media – including me. He’s a globetrotter, having raced in Italy, Hong Kong, Dubai, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia in the last 14 months. He came to Australia having run third to two good 2400m horses, Cirrus des Aigles and St Nicholas Abbey, in the Sheema Classic. He then ran fifth to Sea Moon in the Hardwicke, a race in which he finished behind Dunaden and Red Cadeaux but in front of My Quest For Peace. I was taken by his win in the inaugural American St Leger, albeit when he beat nothing of note, so much so that I tipped him on top in the Caulfield Cup. I always believed Jakkalberry would be a better Caulfield Cup horse than a Melbourne Cup horse, but he showed little in the Caulfield Cup under a poor ride from Colm O’Donoghue. He was wide all the way so perhaps he should be forgiven, but he was still a beaten horse a long way out. Expect an improved performance but I couldn’t back him on what I saw in the Caulfield Cup. Not for me.

4. RED CADEAUX (18)
Cadeaux Genereux x Artisia

Bred in: United Kingdom
Nationality: United Kingdom
Trainer: Ed Dunlop
Jockey: Michael Rodd
Weight: 55.5kg
Career Stats: 30:6-8-5
Last 5 Starts: 21233
Biggest Win: Group 2 Yorkshire Cup (2800m), York (United Kingdom), 18/5/2012
Age: 7
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $9

This race has been on the agenda for Red Cadeaux since he finished second in the closest finish in the history of the race last year. He was game, though. He showed a good turn of foot, which I didn’t expect, and he was very strong at the end of 3200m. Since then, he has run six times for just the one win in the Yorkshire Cup. He’s been in the placings at every run since, though, including in races like the Hong Kong Vase and the Coronation Cup. At his last run, he finished third behind Fiorente, but a lot went against him that day and I’d be surprised if he didn’t finish in front of Fiorente here. Crucially, he meets Dunaden 2.5kg better at the weights compared to last year, a huge difference considering a nose separated them. He does have a couple of things against him, though. He’s first up in 117 days, and no horse has won off as long a break since Revenue won first up in a year in 1901. The only horse to have nearly as long a break was Bitalli in 1923, who won off a 101 day break. He also has drawn the dreaded barrier 18, which has never produced a Melbourne Cup winner since gates were first used in 1958. He’s the weight horse but has a bit against. Nevertheless, he’s a chance.

5. WINCHESTER (22)
Theatrical x Rum Charger

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Jamie Mott
Weight: 55.5kg
Career Stats: 29:6-6-3
Last 5 Starts: 3×9996
Biggest Win: Group 1 Manhattan Handicap (1 1/4m – a2000m), Belmont Park (United States), 5/6/2010
Age: 8
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $35

American import who initially raced in Ireland for Dermot Weld before a distinguished career in the United States. He won the Secretariat Stakes as a three year old, one of the better races for the three year olds on turf, before joining Christophe Clement. He took a while to win for Clement, but his first big race win for him in the 2010 Manhattan Handicap was quite significant. He managed to beat America’s best turf horse Gio Ponti, who was also trained by Clement. He won a further two races, both 2400m Group 1 handicaps, over the following 18 months before he was retired. But Anthony Mithen saw something in Winchester, so decided to purchase him, bring him out of retirement to target the Cups, and then stand him at stud here. He’s had four starts so far, and he’s hit the line strongly at each start. He ran ninth to Ocean Park in the Underwood, ninth to Green Moon in the Turnbull, ninth to Dunaden in the Caulfield Cup before a good sixth in the Mackinnon Stakes on Saturday behind Alcopop. My problem is, he keeps running on without winning. The 3200m shouldn’t be a problem on what he’s shown to date, but I reckon Zabeelionaire has his measure on their last two runs. Place at very best.

6. VOILA ICI (13)
Daylami x Far Hope

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Peter Moody
Jockey: Vlad Duric
Weight: 55kg
Career Stats: 32:13-6-5
Last 5 Starts: 3×6240
Biggest Win: Group 1 Gran Premio di Milano (2400m), San Siro (Italy), 12/6/2011
Age: 8
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $101

Italian Group 1 winner who is one of two runners for Black Caviar’s trainer Peter Moody. He is bound to be popular with the once a year punters because of his French name and because he is a stunning looker – a cracking grey. He made a good impression upon his debut here, when he finished sixth to Sincero in the Memsie Stakes. He then ran a cracking second in the Underwood Stakes to subsequent Cox Plate winner Ocean Park, before a sound fourth to Green Moon in the Turnbull Stakes. He went into the Caulfield Cup a live chance, but ran a very disappointing last, well behind the second last runner. He did have to work to get across, but he still folded up. The prospect of rain on Tuesday would help him slightly. But he has a number of things against him. I don’t think he’s well weighted, I don’t think he’ll stay 3200m but most of all, I don’t think he has the mindset to win a Melbourne Cup. At his last couple, he’s been very colty pre-race, with his mind on the fillies instead of racing. Who could blame him, really? But I firmly believe a horse must be relaxed and settled to win a Melbourne Cup, and I’m not sure he will be relaxed and settled. Therefore, I can’t tip him, not with his temperament.

7. CAVALRYMAN (6)
Halling x Silversword

Bred in: United Kingdom
Nationality: United Kingdom/United Arab Emirates
Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor
Jockey: Frankie Dettori
Weight: 54kg
Career Stats: 27:6-4-3
Last 5 Starts: 71142
Biggest Win: Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris (2400m), Longchamp (France), 14/7/2009
Age: 7
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $41

Forget the horse. The story, if Cavalryman were to win, would not have anything to do with the horse. No, the story would be Frankie Dettori and the fact he has finally won the Melbourne Cup at his final ride as Godolphin’s stable jockey. That’s of incredible significance – Frankie Dettori and Godolphin are synonymous with one another, and the Melbourne Cup has been a common goal for fifteen years without success. Perhaps Cavalryman may end their partnership on a high? To be honest, as someone who’s followed international form, I’d dismissed Cavalryman initially. But the more I’ve looked at him, I have warmed to him more and more. On the whole we’ve seen the best of Cavalryman in France. I think that’s key – French racing is very similar to Australian racing, as has been seen by the incredible record of French horses in Australia. He emerged as a three year old in 2009, winning the Grand Prix de Paris beating some of the best horses of his generation. He went to the world’s most prestigious race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, later that year, finishing third to a champion in Sea The Stars. He then joined Saeed bin Suroor, and his form tapered badly – he wasn’t horrible, but he wasn’t the same horse. However, he was racing some of the best 2400m horses in the world. The last year and a half, he’s been tried as a stayer and done quite well. He won for the first time in three years in May, and in July he beat subsequent Cesarewitch winner Aaim to Prosper by almost five lengths. He’ll be better if it is a firm track, but I think he could be a smokey chance. He’s definitely flying under the radar. I’ll be including him.

8. MOUNT ATHOS (8)
Montjeu x Ionian Sea

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: United Kingdom
Trainer: Luca Cumani
Jockey: Ryan Moore
Weight: 54kg
Career Stats: 20:7-0-1
Last 5 Starts: 84×111
Biggest Win: Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes (1m 5f/a2700m), Newbury (United Kingdom), 18/9/2012
Age: 6
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $7.50

My early Melbourne Cup tip, back in July, who has not run since a good win in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes in August. I still remember seeing him win first up at Newmarket while I was in a Singapore bar with Racing Victoria’s international scout Leigh Jordon. He declared then he was a live Melbourne Cup hope, and most of us were scoffing. But after he beat subsequent Doncaster Cup runner up High Jinx by four lengths at York in July, he looked every bit a likely Melbourne Cup type. He then won the Geoffrey Freer, once again by a big margin, to book his trip to Melbourne. He’s only had those three starts for Luca Cumani, having been trained by David Wachmann previously. Under Wachmann, he ran eighth in last year’s Ebor Handicap before finishing fourth in the Cesarewitch. In recent years, those who have finished behind the placegetters in the Cesarewitch have done well in the Melbourne Cup – Red Cadeaux the most notable example. Owner Dr Marwan Koukash had Munsef run 12th in 2009 behind Shocking, and he decided then that he wanted to win the Melbourne Cup. And we all know how close Luca Cumani has gone to winning the Melbourne Cup in the past. I feel they both have a tremendous chance of winning this race with this horse. He has a tremendous turn of foot and he won’t know himself with 54.5kg. Big chance.

9. SANAGAS (4)
Lomitas x Scoma

Bred in: Germany
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Bart Cummings
Jockey: Nick Hall
Weight: 54kg
Career Stats: 15:7-1-0
Last 5 Starts: 6×0060
Biggest Win: Group 1 Hollywood Turf Cup (1 1/2m – a2400m), Hollywood Park (United States), 19/11/2011
Age: 7
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $51

American Group 1 winner who joined Bart Cummings earlier this year, following a success in the Hollywood Turf Cup in November last year. He took a long time to show anything here, running third last in the Memsie Stakes, midfield in the Underwood Stakes and last in the Caulfield Stakes. I know I’d written him off as a Cups contender, but he finally showed something in the Caulfield Cup when he found the line nicely. He may only have finished 10th, but it was a promising run from a Melbourne Cup perspective. That said, though, there were a number of runs that were better than his in the Caulfield Cup so I probably couldn’t have him here. He would be a popular victory as he’d give the Cups King, Bart Cummings, his 13th Melbourne Cup success. Cummings almost tasted success with an Americain import before, when Rosedale started favourite but could only manage third to Kensei in 1987. I’m not sure Sanagas can provide him with a victory, but he could add exotics to the multiples if everything goes right. Place only.

10. ETHIOPIA (14)
Helenus x Shona

Bred in: Australia
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Pat Carey
Jockey: Rhys McLeod
Weight: 53.5kg
Career Stats: 7:1-1-2
Last 5 Starts: 21×764
Biggest Win: Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m), Royal Randwick, 14/4/2012
Age: 4
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $21

Ethiopia’s the big query of the field. This time last year, Ethiopia hadn’t even set foot on a racetrack. In fact, he didn’t have his first start until February this year, so it has been a very quick ascension for him. He’s very lightly raced, having only had the seven starts to date. And he’s only won the one race – but it was a cracker, he won the ATC Australian Derby in April. This preparation, he’s been brilliant. He was seventh first up in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes before a fast-finishing sixth in the Turnbull Stakes. He was then ridden further forward in the Cox Plate, finishing fourth in what was a top lead up for the race. The question is, will he stay? I personally think he’ll go further back here – if he can go to sleep, one off the rail, then I think he’s a big chance. I don’t think rain should affect him, as he seems to be adept on any surface. He’s looming as one of the better local chances, but he is a query. Definitely one to include.

11. FIORENTE (2)
Monsun x Desert Bloom

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Gai Waterhouse
Jockey: James McDonald
Weight: 53.5kg
Career Stats: 9:2-3-0
Last 5 Starts: 62614
Biggest Win: Group 2 Princess of Wales Stakes (1m 4f/a2400m), Newmarket (United Kingdom), 12/7/2012
Age: 5
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $26

European import who has his first start for Gai Waterhouse here. He’s very lightly raced and he’s likely to have improvement in him. Formerly trained by Sir Michael Stoute, he was spruiked heavily last season following a good maiden win, and while he put in some nice performances, he didn’t deliver as many had expected. He finished a distant second to subsequent King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Nathaniel at Royal Ascot last year, before a disappointing second in weaker company. This year, he finished a long way behind My Quest For Peace and Dunaden first up before a plain second to recent Australian purchase Jet Away. He was well beaten at Royal Ascot and it looked like this one time spruik horse was finished. But suddenly, he turned his form around with a commanding victory over Prix Kergorlay and Canadian International winner Joshua Tree and last year’s Melbourne Cup runner up Red Cadeaux. He was then targeted at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but after a disappointing fourth last time out to Arc runner up Orfevre, he was sold to stable clients of Gai Waterhouse and aimed at the Melbourne Cup. He arrived on the second shipment and has apparently settled in well. Many horses who leave the Stoute stable tend to lose a leg once they change stables – 2009 Melbourne Cup last Warringah is one example – but Gai Waterhouse is a master and knows what she is doing. That said, I just don’t know about him. I haven’t warmed to him. He could come out and blow them away but I can’t include him.

12. GALILEO’S CHOICE (11)
Galileo x Sevi’s Choice

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Ireland
Trainer: Dermot Weld
Jockey: Pat Smullen
Weight: 53.5kg
Career Stats: 16:8-4-1
Last 5 Starts: 217×11
Biggest Win: Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes (1m 4f/a2400m), Leopardstown (Ireland), 9/8/2012
Age: 7
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $19

Think Dermot Weld. Think Vintage Crop. Think Media Puzzle. Scary thoughts when it comes to Galileo’s Choice. I backed this galloper in the Supreme Novices Hurdle when I was at Cheltenham in March this year – that’s right, over jumps! He finished seventh. However, he’s proved a good dual purpose thoroughbred (that is, both over jumps and on the flat), and I’d say he’s even better on the flat. At his last three starts on the flat, he’s won two Group 3s and a Listed race – much better form than what Media Puzzle had when he came to Australia, but probably inferior to Vintage Crop. In fact, his form is very similar to Profound Beauty, who ran fifth in 2008 to Viewed. Last start, he beat Irish St Leger runner up (and recent Australian arrival) Massiyn and Irish Derby winner Treasure Beach, pretty good form really. I think he probably needs it wet, or at least softer than it is likely to be. However, among the racing people I know anyway, he’s already gathering momentum as the street corner tip and I’m sure you’ll have many people pushing his credentials over the next 48 hours. If it comes up a slow or a heavy track, I’ll be putting him in the top four. But with that looking unlikely, I’ll include him as a chance but just outside the top four. But he’s a chance.

13. GLENCADAM GOLD (7)
Refuse to Bend x Sandrella

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Gai Waterhouse
Jockey: Tommy Berry
Weight: 53.5kg
Career Stats: 13:6-2-1
Last 5 Starts: 11110
Biggest Win: Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m), Royal Randwick, 6/10/2012
Age: 5
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $35

English import who won his first four starts in Australia for Gai Waterhouse, including the Newcastle Cup in September and The Metropolitan easily in October. That was amazing in itself, given he only just fell in to beat Brian’s Honour – a restricted galloper – at Canterbury in August. Gai said after that win that he’d win the Caulfield Cup, and most in the racing media scoffed. Yet, on the basis of his Metrop win, he started favourite in the Caulfield Cup. Although he did have to work hard to get across, there was nothing left at the finish and he crossed the line in 15th. He’ll be up on the pace here, especially from the nice gate, and I’m sure Tommy Berry will try to get them running along. But I just don’t know if he has it in him to run out a strong 3200m. He deserves to be forgiven for one poor run, but he’ll need everything to go right for him to be in the finish. I don’t know if he’ll be able to hold them off late. That said, I wish Tommy Berry the best – he’s a great young jockey and I’m sure he’ll have many more rides in the Melbourne Cup in the future. Damien Oliver fell from Salisopra at his first Melbourne Cup in 1989, so I’m sure Berry will be happy to do better than that. I don’t think Glencadam Gold will give him a fairytale Melbourne Cup success, sadly. No.

14. GREEN MOON (5)
Montjeu x Green Noon

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Robert Hickmott
Jockey: Brett Prebble
Weight: 53.5kg
Career Stats: 19:6-3-0
Last 5 Starts: 1×5217
Biggest Win: Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m), Flemington, 6/10/2012
Age: 6
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $17

Lloyd Williams import who was a beaten favourite in the Cox Plate last week. Prior to that, he’d finished fifth in the Memsie Stakes and second in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes before winning the Turnbull Stakes. He was especially impressive in the Turnbull Stakes, hence why he started favourite in the Cox Plate. I took a set against him, because I believed he was looking for 2400m, and it certainly appeared that way. I think he’ll appreciate getting to a distance now, although I’m not sure how he’ll go at the trip. He proved a tough stayer of note last year, when he won the Newcastle Cup after a tough run before running second in the Caulfield Cup after being wide all the way. He also showed he had a turn of foot in shorter events earlier this year, including a win in the Blamey Stakes during the autumn. His run in the Cox Plate reminded me of the run of Efficient in 2007, who then came out and won the Melbourne Cup. He certainly can’t be discounted merely on that one run. I think the bigger query is how he’ll go at the trip. Even despite that one little query, you’d have to say he’s some sort of a chance. Can’t be ruled out.

15. MALUCKYDAY (9)
Zabeel x Yachtie

Bred in: New Zealand
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes
Jockey: Jim Cassidy
Weight: 53.5kg
Career Stats: 17:5-3-2
Last 5 Starts: 8×8025
Biggest Win: Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m), Flemington, 30/10/2011
Age: 6
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $13

2010 Melbourne Cup placegetter who is a favourite of Australian punters. His spring of 2010 was incredible – I still remember being at Canterbury six weeks before the Melbourne Cup when Maluckyday won a restricted race by five lengths. Three races later, he was a Melbourne Cup runner up, after he’d won the Listed Tattersalls City Cup at Randwick and the Lexus Stakes at Flemington. He was widely touted as Australia’s best chance of wresting back the Melbourne Cup, but after an indifferent autumn in 2011, he got very sick and looked like he would never race again. When he returned in the Memsie at the start of September, it was a victory in itself. But he’s actually shown quite good form this time in, even if he’s not going as well as he was in 2010. His last two, especially, were brilliant. He should have won the Bart Cummings easily, but Dwayne Dunn couldn’t decide where to go on him. He went inside, he went outside, he went back inside, and when he knuckled down he really hit the line well. It was the same in the Geelong Cup, when they cantered in front. He had no hope the way the race was run, but he still flew home. The question is, how does his form measure up compared to others? I’m not sure Bart Cummings and Geelong Cup form will measure up, although he’ll appreciate the 5kg weight drop. There are others I prefer, but he’s a rough chance.

16. MOURAYAN (3)
Alhaarth x Mouramara

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Robert Hickmott
Jockey: Hugh Bowman
Weight: 53.5kg
Career Stats: 32:4-8-5
Last 5 Starts: 3x9x421
Biggest Win: Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m), Randwick, 6/10/2012
Age: 7
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $26

Irish import who has been in Australia since early 2010. He was initially bought for the 2010 Melbourne Cup but didn’t make the race. Last year, he made the final field but was a late scratching on Cup morning – hopefully the same doesn’t happen this year! In Ireland, he ran third in an Irish Derby behind Fame and Glory (who, incidentally, was retired on Saturday). In Australia, he’s had 23 starts for just the two wins – in the Bart Cummings last year and the Craven Plate last start. That’s the obvious concern, that he’s not really renowned as a winner. And his last start really doesn’t fill me with confidence, as he only just fell in to beat Western Symbol and Dare To Dream at weight for age. For him to be a chance here, I’d like to see him beating those horses by further when they are carrying equal weights. But outside of his wins, he’s gone alright. He’s run second in The Metropolitan in 2010, in The BMW and the Mackinnon Stakes last year, and in the Hill Stakes two starts back. So there’s no doubting he’s a quality galloper. He is some query at the trip, which is of concern. He is hard to line up, but Lloyd Williams targets this race every year so he’ll be primed to peak here. Probably a chance but I’m leaning towards leaving him out with the concern about the trip and his form. One for the place.

17. MY QUEST FOR PEACE (1)
Galileo x Play Misty For Me

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: United Kingdom
Trainer: Luca Cumani
Jockey: Corey Brown
Weight: 53.5kg
Career Stats: 12:5-1-2
Last 5 Starts: 40115
Biggest Win: Group 3 Glorious Stakes (1m 4f/a2400m), Goodwood (United Kingdom), 3/8/2012
Age: 5
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $21

Former Coolmore galloper who was bought by OTI in August last year. He raced in England as Quest For Peace, with the “My” prefix added on because another Australian horse (a two year old with Peter Moody) had the same name. He had four starts for Aidan O’Brien, recording two wins and two thirds, before he joined Luca Cumani. At his first start for his new connections in September last year, he romped home to win the Cumberland Lodge Stakes easily – last year’s Melbourne Cup sixth Lost In The Moment was well beaten in fourth. He went to Canada, where he finished fifth to Sarah Lynx in the Canadian International, before spelling. This year, he was originally aimed at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but he lost form in the early part of the European season which sealed a trip to Melbourne. He won the Glorious Stakes and the March Stakes at Goodwood before coming to Australia, where he was a creditable fifth in the Caulfield Cup. The stable rate him on par with Mount Athos, which is a big push, but I personally don’t know if he has the turn of foot to win. He seems to me to be more of a grinder, particularly this season, and this is not the race where you want to be grinding away at the end of two miles. Place perhaps, but I’m happy to look elsewhere.

18. NIWOT (15)
Galileo x Too Darn Hot

Bred in: Australia
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes
Jockey: Dwayne Dunn
Weight: 53.5kg
Career Stats: 32:9-4-1
Last 5 Starts: 1×0080
Biggest Win: Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m), Royal Randwick, 28/4/2012
Age: 8
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $51

Niwot’s been a remarkable story. He emerged as a promising stayer in June 2009, winning the Winter Cup at Rosehill in Sydney in impressive fashion. He looked to have better races ahead of him, but he shattered his knee and was not seen for 86 weeks – until February 2011. He went through the grades again, finishing with a win in the Andrew Ramsden Stakes. He then won the Lexus last year, qualifying at the last moment for the Melbourne Cup, and he was not disgraced, finishing eighth. He was the first horse who’d begun their career in Australia or New Zealand home. In the autumn, he finished fourth in the Ranvet and The BMW before winning the Sydney Cup. He hasn’t shown that form this spring, with a series of okay midfield efforts. His last start effort in the Caulfield Cup was okay, but nothing spectacular. In the 1970’s or the 1980’s, I reckon he’d probably have won a Melbourne Cup or two. But in the current era, he’s just not good enough to figure. Perhaps a top 10 chance, but I won’t be backing him in what is undoubtedly a stronger Cup than last year.

19. TAC DE BOISTRON (21)
Take Risks x Pondiki

Bred in: France
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Mick Kent
Jockey: Olivier Doleuze
Weight: 53.5kg
Career Stats: 27:5-2-2
Last 5 Starts: 3521×6
Biggest Win: Group 2 Prix Maurice de Nieull (2800m), Longchamp, 14/7/2012
Age: 6
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $41

French import who’s joined Mick Kent, one of the shrewdest trainers around. I’m a huge fan. But he’ll need to be extremely shrewd if he is to get a Melbourne Cup win out of Tac de Boistron. A horse who took a long time to work through the grades, he’s raced at stakes level his last nine starts. He’s actually performed quite admirably, but what it has proven is that he is best on a wet track. He’s won four races, and all were on a wet track. And when you consider that a French wet track is a bog track that is only seen after torrential rain in Australia, then you’d have to think a lot would need to go right for him to win – perhaps a Hurricane Sandy-esque storm. Rain is forecast, but not enough to suggest it will suit him. He proved in the Geelong Cup, when he was a plodding 6th of a slow tempo, that he needs pace on and he needs a wet track. He won’t get conditions to suit, so I can’t have him. The only way I’d consider him was if it was a bog, and even then, only to place.

20. LIGHTS OF HEAVEN (17)
Zabeel x I’m In Heaven

Bred in: New Zealand
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Peter Moody
Jockey: Luke Nolen
Weight: 53kg
Career Stats: 18:6-3-3
Last 5 Starts: 1×0933
Biggest Win: Group 1 Australasian Oaks (2000m), Morphettville, 26/3/2011
Age: 5
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $26

I’m sure plenty of the once a year punters – in particular, the women – will be on this one. Not only does she have a great name, but she is trained by Peter Moody, who is better known as the trainer of champion mare Black Caviar. Luckily for them, she’s a definite chance. She was the early favourite for the Cups last year, but her form tapered off during the spring. She returned for a Brisbane winter campaign this year, where she recorded two seconds to Shez Sinsational and Mawingo in the Hollindale and the Doomben Cup respectively. She then found her best form with two big wins in the Eagle Farm Cup and the Brisbane Cup, the latter her most impressive victory to date. Her early spring form was disappointing in Sydney, where it was found she had a virus. But she found form with a third to Lamasery and Mourayan in the Hill Stakes, before a last start third to Dunaden and Alcopop in the Caulfield Stakes. She was slightly hampered during the run, but what I loved was the fact she kept running through the line – she was three lengths in front of Dunaden a furlong past the post! She’s been to 2400m twice for a Brisbane Cup win and a Caulfield Cup third, and the Zabeel factor should assist her to stay 3200m. I think she’s quite underrated, and I do think an international would be half the price had they run like her in the Caulfield Cup. She’s shaping as one of the top local hopes, and she’s excellent value at her current quote. Go girl!

21. PRECEDENCE (20)
Zabeel x Kowtow

Bred in: New Zealand
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Bart Cummings
Jockey: Blake Shinn
Weight: 53kg
Career Stats: 44:7-5-1
Last 5 Starts: 41064
Biggest Win: Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m), Moonee Valley, 23/10/2010
Age: 7
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $101

This is the third Melbourne Cup for Precedence, after finishing eighth in 2010 and 11th last year. He probably hasn’t been at his best for about 18 months, although his run last year was actually quite admirable given he pulled his way to a clear second and was left a sitting duck in front. He won his first race in almost two years at Moonee Valley before given an absolutely shocking ride by Michael Rodd in the JRA Cup. He finished 10th but there were excuses given he got shuffled back to the tail of the field and was given no chance. His next two were alright without being outstanding, when sixth to Shahwardi in the Herbert Power Stakes and fourth to Vatuvei in the Moonee Valley Cup. He meets a whole different class of horse here. He needs to be at a whole new level to be any chance here, and I doubt he is. I also doubt he runs a strong 3200m. I’m not sure even Bart can get him to win a new-age Melbourne Cup, so I will be opposing him.

22. UNUSUAL SUSPECT (23)
Unusual Heat x Penpont

Bred in: United States
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Mick Kent
Jockey: Glyn Schofield
Weight: 53kg
Career Stats: 68:9-8-6
Last 5 Starts: 8×9005
Biggest Win: Group 1 Hollywood Turf Cup (1 1/2m – a2400m), Hollywood Park (United States), 13/11/2010
Age: 9
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $201

Group 1 winner at a mile and a half in the United States who came here in the spring of last year as an eight year old. It was hard to believe he could still be competitive, given he was well worn, but he showed some good form – a fourth in the Dato Tan Chin Nam remains his best effort in Australia. He ran poorly in the Cranbourne Cup before finishing sixth in the Caulfield Cup and ninth in the Melbourne Cup. After a spell, he went to Dubai for their carnival but after a promising first up effort, he was beaten convincingly at his next three. He was once again promising first up here, but after he finished 11th in the Naturalism Stakes and second last in the Cranbourne Cup it was reasonable to think that Melbourne Cup aspirations would be abandoned. But after an okay fifth in the Moonee Valley Cup last start, they decided to press on. I can’t blame the owners, given I would probably do the same if I was in their position. But on all exposed form, he has absolutely no chance and he is simply making up the numbers. In my eyes, he would have been the perfect candidate for balloting. Alas, he runs, keeping genuine chances like Brigantin out. Adding to his woes is the fact no nine year old has ever won the Cup. Not keen at all.

23. ZABEELIONAIRE (24)
Zabeel x Kisumu

Bred in: New Zealand
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Leon Corstens
Jockey: Craig Newitt
Weight: 52kg
Career Stats: 17:3-1-0
Last 5 Starts: 97065
Biggest Win: Group 1 South Australian Derby (2400m), Morphettville, 5/5/2012
Age: 4
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $35

The South Australian Derby winner who was one of the most promising staying three year olds last preparation. Outside of him and Ethiopia, the crop hasn’t really stood up, but both of them look good stayers. This time last year, he was still a maiden who had just run fourth in the Victoria Derby. The Derby form looks weak now, but his was a strong performance which suggested he’d be one to follow in the future. He came back in the autumn, and for a while he was extremely disappointing – he was fourth as an odds-on favourite at Moonee Valley behind weaker company. He proved, though, his ability was still there with an eight length maiden win at Geelong. He won a race at Caulfield prior to winning the South Australian Derby, before he went to Brisbane where he finished sixth in the Queensland Derby. This preparation, he’s hit the line strongly every start, but his last two – sixth in the Caulfield Cup and fifth in the Mackinnon Stakes – have really caught the eye. Both times, the pace has probably played to his strengths, but he’s still made good ground. He should relish the 3200m and I’m not concerned by the outside barrier, as he would have gone back anyway. He has the sense of timing traditionally associated with Bart Cummings horses around this time of year – perhaps Leon Corstens, a one-time disciple of Cummings, has taken note and is finally applying the principles to the right horse. He strikes me as a strong chance, a definite chance. I’m including him.

24. KELINNI (10)
Refuse to Bend x Orinoco

Bred in: Ireland
Nationality: Australia
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Glen Boss
Weight: 51kg
Career Stats: 18:8-3-3
Last 5 Starts: 14121
Biggest Win: Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m), Flemington, 3/11/2012
Age: 5
TAB Sportsbet Fixed Odds (as at 7pm, Sunday November 4): $26

The Lexus Stakes winner. An English import who only had two starts in the United Kingdom before being purchased by Chris Waller for Australia. He won his first start in Australia over 1250m at Canterbury last September and he’s emerged as a promising stayer since then. Amazingly, he started the year rated 68 under the Racing NSW system – he’s now rated 101, which is a huge leap. He won two restricted 2200m races at Warwick Farm in August, before finishing fourth to Julienas in the Wyong Cup. He then won the Colin Stephen Quality, turning the tables on Julienas, before a distant second to Glencadam Gold in The Metropolitan. He had a month off prior to Saturday’s Lexus win. He’s been up since July, which is a long campaign for an Australian-prepared galloper. He does get in light and he gets Glen Boss aboard, who has been flying. But for mine, he just lacks the class to win this race. I think he was slightly lucky to win the Lexus Stakes, with both Dare To Dream and Ibicenco facing checkered passages. Would surprise.

SUMMARY

What a top class Melbourne Cup! I think it’s close to the best Melbourne Cup I’ve seen, although 2010 was also very good. It makes for a great race. I’m disappointed the one I was really keen on, Brigantin, didn’t make the field, but hopefully he can come back and make amends next year. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had so much trouble figuring out who I want to have as my top four selections in a race. I’ve got it down to eight – in alphabetical order, they are Americain, Cavalryman, Ethiopia, Galileo’s Choice, Green Moon, Mount Athos, Lights of Heaven and Zabeelionaire. Of those, I have to have MOUNT ATHOS on top. I’ve been keen on him for a number of months, and although I ended up warming to Brigantin more, he’s not here. Luca Cumani’s going to win it soon, and this looks his best chance to date. Really keen. I do think the locals have been underrated a bit and I loved the Caulfield Cup run of LIGHTS OF HEAVEN, so I have to include her. I think she’ll stay the trip, and I think she can fly the flag for Zabeel. CAVALRYMAN’s a real query for me, but I think he’s great value. I think the form around him has started to stack up, and this is the sort of race where we’ll see the best from him. Have to include him. And despite the outside barrier, I think ZABEELIONAIRE’s peaking at just the right time. He is still improving, and we don’t know how good he is, so he must be included in all exotics. I do think he could win. Next best, in order, are Ethiopia, Americain, Green Moon and Galileo’s Choice. But I’ll probably back my top four and hope for a result to fall my way! Good luck if you are having a bet on Tuesday – surely it is un-Australian not to do so?

NUMBERS

8 – MOUNT ATHOS
20 – LIGHTS OF HEAVEN
7 – CAVALRYMAN
23 – ZABEELIONAIRE

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 5, 2012 10:11 pm

    your dreaming….the top 2 are 5 lengths better than this field even with the weight … good luck thou 🙂 1 , 2 , 12 , 24

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  1. The Hawk’s Melbourne Cup Day Selections « Andrew Hawkins Racing

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