The Chinese consider the number 8 to be very lucky and after the running of Australia’s greatest race Tuesday – the Melbourne Cup, so too might the Japanese connections of Admire Rakti. It was from gate eight the 7yo jumped when successful in the Caulfield Cup (2400m) a fortnight ago, and at Saturday evening’s barrier draw, the same number fell his way again. It has also been eight years since Delta Blues won the first Melbourne Cup for Japan when narrowly defeating fellow Japanese galloper, Pop Rock. Admire Rakti is the $5.00 favourite for the race Lucia Valentina and Saturday’s Lexus winner Signoff, on the next line at $6.50. Protectionist ($7.50) and Fawkner ($9.00) are the only other runners in the field under double figure odds.
Stats to keep in mind.
– Only won seven year has won the race since 2000 – Makybe Diva when winning her third Melbourne Cup in 2007
– Only one horse since 2001 has come from a gate wider than 14 – Shocking (Barrier 22)
– Outside of the legendary Makybe Diva, no horse has carried a weight greater than 56.5kgs since Gold And Black (57kgs) way back in 1977.
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1. ADMIRE RAKTI – Z Purton (8) 58.5kgs
Earned himself an excellent 0.5kgs for this year’s Melbourne Cup after winning the G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) where the 7yo finished strongly from midfield on the home turn, to claim Rising Romance in the final few bounds. His most recent run over the two mile saw him settle near last in the big field of eighteen that contested the G1 Tenno Spring and under 58kgs, fail to make an impression in the run home, finishing thirteenth and over seven lengths from the winner. His three previous starts at or beyond 3000m have been much stronger and include a second in the G2 Hanish Daishoten (3000m) and victory the G3 Diamond Stakes (3400m), carrying 56kgs on both occasions. The Caulfield Cup win was as impressive Melbourne Cup trail as you could hope to see and the good form continued at Saturday evening’s barrier draw when gate number eight was draw. If successful, he’ll have to match the feats of Think Big who carried the same weight to victory in the second of his Melbourne Cup. Only he and Makybe Diva, who was assigned 58kgs in her third Melbourne Cup, have carried more than 57kgs successful since the metric system was introduced.
2. CAVALRYMAN – C Williams (3) 57kgs
The Godolphin 9yo is showing no signs he is ready for retirement given that he has won three of his last four starts and went within a neck of making it four from his last five, when finishing a neck second in the G1 Dubai Gold Cup (3200m) back in March, the same race he won the previous year. The son of Hailing had his last start ten weeks ago running fourth in a seven horse field, in the G2 Lonsdale Cup (3299m) under the steadier of 58.5kgs. The race was won by Pale Mimosa who since that victory, has ran fifth (ten lengths) in the Irish St. Leger (2816m) and third (1.1 lengths) in the G1 Prix Du Cadran (4000m) in France. Has been able to take up a forward position from favourable draws in his most recent starts and combined with his record at this trip, which reads an impressive three wins and two seconds from ten starts, only finishing worse than fifth twice, Godolphin’s chances of winning their first Melbourne Cup appear as good as they’ve ever been in the past.
3. FAWKNER – N Hall (9) 57kgs
Ran sixth (six lengths) behind Fiorente in this race last year after claiming the Caulfield Cup and his form in three runs back from a spell this campaign have been first rate. Only fitness prevented him from claiming Dissident first up in the G1 Maykbe Diva Stakes (1600m) as the pair battled out a tight finish, before getting a lovely run in transit and winning the Caulfield Stakes by a head from the fast-finishing Criterion. That effort, combined with the perfect barrier draw, saw him installed favourite for the Cox Plate at his most recent start. He found a lovely spot in the run, fifth in the running line, and made his move at the right time approaching the 600m, hitting the front at the top of the short Moonee Valley straight. It took an exceptional effort by international superstar Adelaide to claim him in the final stages and defeat him by a head. Fiorente ran third in the Cox Plate last year prior to winning the Cup and Fawkner is following a very similar preparation to that of 2012 Melbourne Cup winner and stable-mate Green Moon, who ran sixth in the Cox Plate of that year as his final hit-out. He is a class galloper but goes up 2.5kgs on last year’s weight and still some concern over his ability to see out a strong two miles.
4. RED CADEAUX – G Mosse (15) 57kgs
Amazing campaigner who is lining up for his fourth consecutive Melbourne Cup start and with two narrow seconds from his three attempts, he’d be the sentimental favourite for this year’s race. He was beaten by the closest margin in Melbourne Cup history in 2011 by Dunaden and from gate twenty-three in last year’s renewal, produced a phenomenal run after being posted three deep through-out and leading the field into the straight, to again run second (3/4 length) behind Fiorente. It has been a long time since the now 9yo last won a race, December 2012 to be precise, and his lead up form for this year’s Cup isn’t strong, having finished well down the track in three of his past four starts, the most recent of which was G3 September Stakes (2414m) where he ran last of seven. Saves his best for Melbourne and his two second placings have been when unwanted in betting, starting at $31 and $61.
5. PROTECTIONIST – R Moore (11) 56.5kgs
German imported galloper whose only time out of the placings came in his Australian debut run in the G2 Herbert Power (2400m) when finishing a fourth. It was the first run in seven weeks for the 5yo stallion by Monsun – same sire as last year’s Cup winner Fiorente, and saw him finish well from midfield after finding some traffic on the turn to get within a length of the winner Big Memory, who subsequently ran well when Caulfield Cup. He will only improve with that run under his belt his start prior to coming to Australia, resulted in a comfortable 1.5 length, albeit against only three competitors, in the G2 Prix Kergorlay (3000m) under 60kgs. He is syndicated by Australian Bloodstock who almost pulled off a Melbourne Cup win with Lucas Cranach back in 2011, who just also happened to be a lightly raced German import with a similar profile to their representative this year.
6. SEA MOON – T Berry (18) 56.5kgs
The 7yo stallion hasn’t really lived up to the expectations that were placed on him when he first came to Australian in 2013. He won last year’s Hebert Power (2400m) before running thirteenth (9.5 lengths) in the Melbourne Cup but his form this campaign suggests he’ll be struggling to better that effort this year. First up off a thirty week spell, he did all he could do in the G3 Bart Cummings (2520m) under 60kgs, running fifth (3.7 lengths) behind Who Shot Thebarman before lining up in the Caulfield Cup (2400m). From a wide draw the son of Beat Hollow had to work out of the straight he first time to find the lead position but was quickly and easily gobbled up at the 600m, dropping all the way back through the field to finish last of eighteen. Can’t win the Cup off an effort like that.
7. SEISMOS – C Newitt (1) 56kgs
The lightly raced 7yo won the G3 Freer Stakes (2671m), his second victory from five starts this year, in the UK before being shipped to Australian by his trainer Marco Botti for the G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m). Drew one in the Caulfield Cup and was ridden out of the gates to hold his position but some tightening past the post the first time, saw the son of Dalakhani settle further back then he would’ve hoped for, midfield on the fence. He was given one with the whip at the 600m to keep us as the pace went on but only one-batted from there to the line and was passed by several late finishers out wide late, demoting him to fifteenth (5.2 lengths). Connections stated prior to that run that he’ll be better suited to the two miles over the bigger circuit at Flemington but he appears a dour type and it requires more than staying ability to win this Cup now.
8. JUNOOB – J Bowman (7) 55.5kgs
Continued to improve his impressive record at 2000m after a dominating front-running ride by Blake Shinn, saw him claim the G2 Hill Stakes before extending his winning form beyond that distance for the first time in Australia, again courtesy of a peach of a ride from Shinn, and claim his first Group 1 win when defeating Opinion by a half a length in The Metropolitan handicap. With that win under his belt and dropping 2.5kgs to 55.5kgs, the 7yo was given a good chance in the Caulfield Cup and started 8/1. He was posted three deep for the first 1000m of the race and it wasn’t until the field headed into the back straight that he was able to slot in fourth position, one of the fence. When the pressure went on at the 600m, he looked in trouble and made the corner awkwardly but in a spirited effort, came again once balanced in the straight and finished seventh (2.3 lengths). Good run last start after a less than ideal run. Has had solid preparation for this, his first attempt at 3200m and that is the query.
9. ROYAL DIAMOND – S Arnold (6) 55.5kgs
9yo Irish galloper whose latest start resulted in a sixth placing (12 lengths) behind Brown Panther – who ran eighth in last year’s Melbourne Cup, in the G1 Irish St Leger (2816m) under the significant impost of 62kgs The St Leger was the race used by Vintage Crop has the final hit-out before each of his three Cup campaigns. It continued the trend of some mixed results for the Johnny Murtagh trained galloper over the past twelve months, the highlight of which has been his nose victory in the G3 Qipco Cup (3219m) on a slow track. He has carried less than 60kgs only once in his last ten starts and will not know himself with the assigned weight of 55.5kgs but, don’t know if that’s enough of a factor alone to see him figure in the finish here.
10. GATEWOOD – W Buick (22) 55kgs
Australian race-goers saw a lot of this European horse during the 2012-2013 season but after showing plenty of promise in three starts during the ’12 spring, which included victory in the Geelong Cup, the OTI owned galloper failed to produce the same results in the autumn when sent to Sydney trainer Chris Waller. He returned to Newmarket and his former trainer John Gosden who has him back in form and ticking over nicely. The now 7yo has won three of six starts this year, ran second on the other occasions, and claimed the G2 Prix De Reux (2500m) two starts back before running a head second to Cocktail Queen at his following and most recent start, in a G2 event over 2500m. Both races had small numbers in it, all have his races since returning to the UK have. Will enjoy the drop in weight compared to what he has been carrying back home and connections will look favourably on any give in the track however, still unproven at the top level and the draw is a horror.
11. MUTUAL REGARD – D Oliver (12) 55kgs
Former Jockey Johnny Murtagh has had this 6yo gelding by Hernando for only three starts since acquiring him from Sir Mark Prescott at the end of last year, and has the good strike rate of two wins and a third placing in that time. He won at the Curragh first up off a thirty-eight week spell to win a race with 60.5kgs over 3200m, by a comfortable two lengths before finding a couple too good when stepping up in class, running third (3.8 lengths) to Pale Mimosa, who has raced well in three starts since, in the Listed Challenge Stakes (2816m). His following start came ten weeks ago where he beat Lord Van Percy – who ran fifth (2.2 lengths) in the G2 Herbert Power Stakes on Caulfield Cup day – by a 1.3 lengths at Ebor over 2816m. He hasn’t finished outside of the top two in his last five races over the Cup distance and he comes here in strong form. Add Damian Oliver to the equation, the winning rider of three Melbourne Cups including last year’s winner Fiorente and Saturday’s G1 double of the VRC Derby and Mackinnon Stakes, and Murtagh has a strong chance of claiming the race that escaped him as a jockey.
12. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN – G Boss (13) 55kgs
He joined the Chris Waller stables shortly after winning the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) in March of this year, and after consecutive wins in an Open handicap (2000m) and the G3 Bart Cummings (2500m), the 6yo gelding was the subject of good support heading into his most recent start, the G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m). He drew awkwardly in the Caulfield Cup, jumped well and although a little deep past the post the first time, he was able to slot into a nice position exiting the straight and from then on, enjoyed a nice run just off the pace in the running line. Ran wide on the turn and was in a bit of bumping duel with Moriarty early in the straight before holding his position in the run to the line, finishing thirteenth. Expected to see a little more of him late but the class of his opponents, compared to his two previous victories, was much stronger and he was caught wanting late. That was only the second time in six starts beyond 2400m that he has missed a place but on both occasions that he has, they’ve been in top class events and would think he’d find a few too good here too.
13. WILLING FOE – J McDonald (17) 55kgs
Godolphin runner who fell a neck short of picking up winner Seismos (fifteenth in the Caulfield Cup) when contesting the G3 Freer Stakes (2671m) before finishing fourth (8.2 lengths) behind Brown Panther – who ran eighth in last year’s Melbourne Cup, in the Irish St Leger (2816m). Did have 59kgs and 62kgs respectively in the above outings and last time he carried a weight similar to the one assigned to him here, he ran third as the $3.80 favourite in the G3 Prix Gladiateaur (3100m), which has been the longest race he has competed in. Doubt he’ll find Tuesday’s Cup any easier than that particular race and neither of his recent runs well enough to suggest he could be winning here.
14. MY AMBIVALENT – A Atzeni (4) 54.5kgs
European 6yo mare who has won one of her four starts this year, the G2 Middleton Stakes (2092m) where she led throughout to defeat seven rivals by 1.8 lengths. Her most recent run was in June’s G1 Pretty Polly (2012m) where she again led but under 61.5kgs, couldn’t hold off the challengers over the final stages and finished fourth (4.3 lengths) to Thistle Bird. Will not know herself with only 54.5kgs for the Cup but will need it to help her see out the trip given that she’s never been to this distance before and from six starts at or beyond 2400m, she’s only the posted the one win
15. PRECEDENCE – M Rodd (20) 54.5kgs
Wouldn’t be a Melbourne Cup without the Cummings name as trainer listed alongside of a least one runner and this year, legendary trainer Bart and his Grand-son James, will have there’s together beside 9yo Precedence. The old boy just missed making last year’s field, ran ninth in 2012’s edition, eleventh in 2011 and in his first Melbourne Cup way back in 2010, eighth behind Americain. Unfortunately it’s hard to see him producing a better result in this year’s Cup given his recent form. He finished strongly two starts back in the JRA Cup (2040m) when fifth (1.5 lengths) to The Cleaner before running a plain fifth (5.1 lengths) to Prince Of Penzance in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup.
16. BRAMBLES – L Nolen (21) 54kgs
Peter Moody has followed the traditional lead-up path this 6yo son of Savabeel who’ll contest his first Melbourne Cup. He was given every chance in the run by Luke Nolen from a good draw in the G1 Turnbull Stakes but found Lucia Valentina and stable-mate Lidari a shade too strong over the final 50m and finished third (0.6 lengths). He then got a start in the Caulfield Cup (2400m) and again under Nolen, took up a forward position and seeing the trip out well, finishing fourth (1.1 lengths) behind Admire Rakti, who he meets at the same weight differential. He next and most recent start was in Saturday’s Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) but as the field turned for home, he couldn’t accelerate from is on-pace position and in fact, struggled to maintain it, crossing the line in ninth spot (6.9 lengths) behind Happy Trails and He’s Your Man. Struggled to handle the drop back in distance and WFA condition on Saturday and although he returns to a handicap race over more ground, needed to see him doing more at the end of Saturday’s race to warrant consideration here – especially now he has drawn so wide.
17. MR O’CEIRIN – C Schofield (19) 54kgs
Last year’s Listed Grafton Cup (2300m) winner put together a solid campaign during the winter, competing in some of Queensland’s leading WFA races such as the G2 Hollindale Stakes and G2 Eagle Farm Cup where he finished second to Streama and Moriarty Respectively. The 7yo trained by Ciaron Maher was building nicely into his preparation since returning from a spell late August and with a fourth (1.2 lengths) to The Cleaner in the JRA Cup (2040m) at his third run back, looked to be at his peak for the his most recent start, the Cranbourne Cup (2025m). He had a lovely run throughout but under 59.5kgs and on a firm surface, couldn’t take advantage of his position, finishing seventh (4.8 lengths) behind Mourinho. Hasn’t ventured past 2400m previously and his two efforts at that particular distance, in last year’s Caulfield Cup and this year’s Brisbane Cup, have seen him beaten comprehensively in both. Hard to make a case for him here.
18. AU REVOIR – G Schofield (23) 53.5kgs
French galloper who made his Australian debut on Cox Plate day, with a pleasing third (1.8 lengths) to Prince Of Penzance in the G2 Moonee Valley Cup (2040m). The lightly raced 5yo led, controlled the tempo and stuck on tenaciously, only being caught in the final 50m of the race. He’ll strip fitter for that run, only his second since May of this year however, a look back at his European record see that his three career wins have all come over 2400m against six, five and five competitors respectively – always when a short-priced favourite. He’ll find this race a much higher standard than any of those victories and his last start. From a poor draw, he’ll have his work cut out for him.
19. LIDARI – B Melham (10) 53.5kgs
The stable-mate to Brambles, he has followed a similar path to the Melbourne Cup over the past two months. From an inside gate he held on well from a forward position to run fourth (1.9 lengths) behind Foreteller and Happy Trails in the Underwood Stakes (1800m) before making Lucia Valentina produce her best late when second (0.5 length) in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m). Big run was expected of him then – 30/1 into 16/1 and he didn’t disappoint, as was the case in the G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) when sixth (2.2 lengths) behind Admire Rakti as a 15/2 chance It was his first go beyond 2000m and was given every chance to see it out after a lovely ride from Melham saw him perfectly placed throughout. He’ll secure a similar one here from a handy draw, hard to see him making the improvement required to be winning here.
20. OPINION – T Angland (14) 53.5kgs
Given three weeks off by trainer Chris Waller after a luckless run in the G3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) behind He’s Your Man, and return with a strong second (0.5 length) to Junoob in the G1 Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) before coming to Melbourne for the G2 Moonee Valley Cup where the 6yo started the 5/2 favourite. He settled well back in the field in a race run at a moderate pace but when asked to improve as they may their way down the side, it was clear that the son of Oasis Dream was not travelling as well as the favourite should be. He only batted home to sixth (5.2 lengths) behind Prince Of Penzance. That was his first look at Moonee Valley and his not the first, nor will he be the last, horse not to handle the tight track. Did run second to The Offer in the Sydney Cup (3200m) early this year and return to Flemington could see sharp improvement. If you’re looking for a long-shot or some value for the trifecta, he could be candidate.
21. ARALDO – D Dunn (24) 53kgs
A former German galloper who hasn’t produced too many poor performance for Trainer Mike Moroney since starting his Australian racing career this time last year. He narrowly missed out making his way into last year’s Cup when finishing third (1.7 lengths) behind Ruscello in the Lexus Stakes but may make the wait worth it for his connections this year given his current form. He closed from a long way back to run third (1.3 lengths) in the G1 Metropolitan Handicap behind Junoob and Opinion before lining up in the G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) a fortnight ago. He settled back from a wide draw and was third last as the field turned but again, was doing good work late and crossed the line only 1.4 lengths behind Admire Rakti. Whilst his form is good enough to pay him close attention, unfortunately he has drawn wide here – real wide – and that’ll see him settle a long way back and with a lot of good horses to run down.
22. LUCIA VALETINA – K McEvoy (2) 53kgs
The Kris Lees trained mare will be out to become the first mare since the mighty Makybe Diva in 2005 to claim the cup and the first 4yo mare to win the Melbourne Cup since Ethereal defeated Give The Slip in 2000. Before her ’03 and ’04 Cup wins, Makybe Diva ran fourth and second respectively whilst Ethereal won the Caulfield Cup to be the last horse to complete the Cups double. Lucia Valentina also used the Caulfield Cup as her final hit-out for the Melbourne Cup and produced an outstanding effort to run third (0.9 lengths) behind Admire Rakti and Rising Romance. The Savabeel mare settled well back in the run and followed eventual winner Admire Rakti into the turn, copping a slight bump from that horse as they straightened for the run home. On the line she had narrow the two length margin the winner had established with a furlong to go, to least than a length and meets him slightly better at the weight again. She has all the right credentials to win this race.
23. UNCHAIN MY HEART – D Yendall (5) 51.5kgs
The 8yo mare secured her place in the field by winning the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m) back in May of this year but fair to say on her recent form, she won’t be adding another two mile Flemington race to her resume come Tuesday. She ran a respectable third to Like A Carousel in the Listed Harry White (three lengths) but when stepping up in class at her next two starts, the G2 Herbert Power and G1 Caulfield Cup, she’s finished well down the track. Failed to make an impression form the tail of the field running second last and over nine lengths from winner Admire Rakti.
24. SIGNOFF – J Moreira (16) 51kgs
Started favourite in three of his first five runs this preparation but it wasn’t until Saturday’s G3 Lexus Stakes that the Darren Weir trained galloper finally delivered for punters, scoring a comfortable 2.5 length from Big Memory. He was given a ten out of ten ride by Joao Moreira on Saturday, tracking the speed in fifth spot before pulling away from the second horse over the final 100m. Recent winners of the Lexus have performed well backing up and with only 51kgs to carry and the “Magic Man” in the saddle, wouldn’t dismiss his chances of running a bold race lightly.
As it did in the Caulfield Cup, it all seems to be coming together nicely for Admire Rakti as he attempts to become the first horse since Ethereal in 2004 to claim the Cups double. Firstly he escaped with what many thought to be lenient weight-penalty after his Caulfield win, followed by drawing barrier eight, the same gate he started the Caulfield Cup from. He does have to emulate two Melbourne Cup legends give the weight he has been assigned but it’s hard to say he won’t be able to do it when looking at the style of the Caulfield Cup win. Right behind him was Lucia Valentina and unlike the Caulfield Cup, she’s drawn better here in gate two and will get a cheaper run than she did last start. She’ll need to get a bit of luck from the half mile on but she’s a good horse and will be able to make it happen. Protectionist is the big danger for mine. The Herbert Power run will top him off nicely for Tuesday’s race. He will be better suited at Flemington than Caulfield, has drawn very well in gate eleven, and has Cox Plate winning jockey Ryan Moore up. Of those we haven’t yet seen in Australia, thought Cavalryman and Mutual Regard were the picks with the best of the longshots being Araldo and Opinion.
Good luck and enjoy the race!
- LUCIA VALENTINA
- ADMIRE RATKI
- MUTUAL REGARD