We expect Murtagh magic in the Melbourne Cup one way or another

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It’s dubbed ‘The race that stops a nation’, and with a top field of international raiders set to negotiate Flemington’s tight bends, this year’s Melbourne Cup takes some working out.

With the last four winners either being trained in Europe, or having spent some of their career based there, it could be worth following some of the more familiar names among the 24 that line up.

And with Ladbrokes paying out on the first five home, it might pay to look for a nicely priced each-way shot.

Andreas Wohler’s Protectionist is the shortest European in the market (6/1), and will be the mount of Ryan Moore, fresh from his heroics aboard Adelaide in the Cox Plate.

But with the German based four-year-old never experiencing a field of more than 13, we are looking elsewhere for something that will definitely handle the hustle and bustle of the race.

Reliable globetrotter Red Cadeaux (16/1) has twice been second in the race in the last three years for Ed Dunlop. He will have it all to do to break that hoodoo this year, now carrying his highest weight at the Victoria track. Throw in that his form has been average so far this season, and we are swerving him.

Instead we are looking for Johnny Murtagh to make up for the disappointment of his outing on Septimus in the 2008 running, when he sends out Mutual Regard and Royal Diamond, as he looks to continue his fledgling training career.

The former is rated as a 10/1 shot to lift the cup and will have plenty of backers after his smooth win in the Ebor. The five-year-old is ultra-consistent too, only finishing out of the first three once in his last 13 runs.

However the one thing that puts this writer off is the fact that he has yet to compete at the very top. In fact, every winner from the last decade has won a Group race before lining up in Melbourne. And although Damien Oliver’s mount may have plenty of improvement in him, he will need to step up on his Group race debut.

Instead Royal Diamond looks the value, at what could be a massively overpriced 40/1.

The former Irish St Leger winner is proven to stay the 2m trip, winning the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day last year and has ran well this season, twice just falling behind Ascot Gold Cup winner Leading Light.

Jockey Steven Arnold knows what it takes to land these big races, partnering So You Think to four Group 1 successes before the horse moved to Ireland.

He may be the apparent stable second string, but at the prices, we know who we want to be on with Ladbrokes’ five places concession.

All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.