Assessing the UK and Ireland’s nine Melbourne Cup challengers
It’s billed as ‘The Race that Stops a Nation’ Down Under and it is easy to see why the A$6m Melbourne Cup is a contest that sees copious amounts of foreign raiders set their sights on Victoria.
Not since Media Puzzle in 2002 has a horse trained in the UK or Ireland landed the 2m contest, with Ed Dunlop’s Red Cadeaux coming closest when finishing second in 2011, 2013 and 2014.
The globe-trotting chestnut is back for another crack at the race, and this time he’s made the trip alongside eight other challengers from these shores.
Whether opting for a local winner or putting your faith in one of the raiding party, it’s worth bearing in mind a few prominent stats.
– Nine of the last 10 winners were aged four or five
– The last 14 victors had run in the previous 28 days
– Only two of the previous 13 winners hadn’t won at Group 1 or 2 level
– 12 of the last 14 horses to take the prize had won in a race with 15+ runners
– 16 of the 20 horses to finish in the first two in the last 10 years were drawn 5-14
So, how does that stack up for the UK and Irish horses with their sights set on Flemington?
Trip to Paris
The Ascot Gold Cup winner ticks every box as far as the trends go and ran a belter at huge odds to finish second in the Caulfield Cup last time out.
He’s guaranteed to stay the trip and with success on the all-weather back home, should have no problems with the turning track.
Willie Mullins’ gelding has only had two runs on the flat in the past two years, but with those runs a second place in the Northumberland Plate and a win in the Yorkshire Cup, he looks a classy type.
Frankie Dettori is booked for the ride, and if continuing to improve for his flat runs, could run a massive race.
Quest for More
Roger Charlton’s five-year-old could be overpriced considering the progression he has made in handicap company this year.
He needs to take another step forward and put a below par performance in the Geelong Cup behind him, but could yet run into the places under Damian Lane.
The two biggest tests in terms of stamina Sir Michael Stoute’s horse has faced have brought about the best performances when winning the Yorkshire Cup and coming third in the St Leger.
The signs are there that this step up in trip could yet eke out more for the three-time Group winner.
Stamina will be the big question for this son of Motivator, having won at no further than 1m4f in the past.
The strength of his Group form this season is questionable, and while he meets more than half of the trends, it looks unlikely that he will be troubling the judge.
There’s barely space for any more visas on the nine-year-old’s passport having taken in races in six different countries in the past two years.
Age may just be catching up with him, but he does love it at Flemington, and carrying less weight than he has in three of his four previous cracks at the race could see him surprise again.
He needs to put the last two runs behind him – he was beaten a combined 59 lengths – but if repeating his second place performance in the Ascot Gold Cup could be a threat.
The four-year-old stays the trip well and is flexible ground-wise, but with no prep run and minimal big-field experience he could struggle.
Inconsistency is the problem for Michael Bell’s charge, having gone from winning two Group 2s at Newmarket and Goodwood to finishing second-last at York.
A win at Chester’s idiosyncratic track could be a pointer that the turns in Victoria will be no problem, but once again the trends don’t lead us his way.
He may have been beaten in the St Leger, before being given it and then having it taken away two weeks later, but the stats don’t read well for Aidan O’Brien’s colt.
He is a consistent type, having never finished outside the first two, but with all of those runs coming in single figure fields and no outing since Doncaster, it looks a big ask for the son of Galileo.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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