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4:20pm ADST – In fact, this blog will finish as we look to have a full Melbourne Cup preview available tonight. Thank you for joining us on what has been a dark punting day across the board. We’ll do it all again on Tuesday for Melbourne Cup day. Join us then!

4:00pm ADST – That’s the four Group 1s done for today – while the blog will continue, we’ll pull back and begin preparing our mammoth Melbourne Cup preview.

GROUP 1 MYER CLASSIC (1600m)

Winner: 12. Appearance – W: $43.80, P: $9.30
Second: 11. Soft Sand –
P: $3.20
Third: 2. Secret Admirer
– P: $2.30
Fourth: 5. Skyerush/10. Oasis Bloom

I thought for a little while we were going to be cheering…and then, I realise we can’t catch Appearance. Of course, a 40-1 shot blows us out. Crazy. There was a lot of pace on, much of it forced by Streama, who ended up capitulating. It suited those back in the field, and they ran the trifecta – Appearance and Soft Sand came down the outside, Secret Admirer burst through along the rails.

The Myer Classic is quickly becoming the punter’s lament…

3:41pm ADST – Howmuchdoyouloveme is a DEFINITE runner in the Group 2 Yellowglen Stakes (1200m). The inquiry will be held after today’s racing.

3:29pm ADST –¬†The next race on the card is the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m). It’s been a Group 1 since 2004, and winners in that time include Miss Potential (2004), Lotteria (2005), Lyrical Bid (2006), Divine Madonna (2007), Forensics (2008), Typhoon Tracy (2009), Sacred Choice (2010) and Hurtle Myrtle (2011). Some very nice mares there, and many of these mares deserve to be held in such high esteem.

For me, I think SOFT SAND is a big chance now that she’s drawn out. I’ve been waiting to see her out at a mile so I can’t wait to see her today. I can see her rattling home. STREAMA is the class mare over a mile and was brilliant last start. A good track should suit. OASIS BLOOM and PEAR TART next best for mine.

3:22pm ADST – Ouch…how do these leaders just keep going? Not going well at all.

3:18pm ADST – We’ll be cheering home Didntcostalot here at Rosehill. Looks the best bet on the card to mine.

GROUP 1 VICTORIA DERBY (2500m)

Winner: 6. Fiveandahalfstar – W: $19.30, P: $4.30
Second: 4. Super Cool –
P: $2.10
Third: 15. Rawnaq –
P: $19.30
Fourth:  5. Hvasstan

How???? Fiveandahalfstar, who took 12 starts to break his maiden, comes out and blows them away in the Victoria Derby. They looked to be going strongly up in front, but Fiveandahalfstar kept going and they never looked like catching him.  Super Cool loomed up but was outgunned late, while Rawnaq flew home at monster odds to add incredible value to the multiples.

The favourite It’s A Dundeel never looked likely, getting well back before being boxed in around the home turn.¬†Overall it wasn’t a great race for us.

2:49pm ADST – TVN is reporting that Howmuchdoyouloveme – the shortest favourite of the day – is likely to be scratched from the Group 2 Yellowglen Stakes (1200m). That is not confirmed by any measure, but it’s not looking promising.

2:45pm ADST – The next race is the feature of the day, the Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m).

I cannot see the favourite IT’S A DUNDEEL being beaten – normally, the favourite is a query at the distance, but he has as stout a pedigree as you’ll see in the race and he should lap up the 2500m. Obviously, the concern is he was beaten last start, but Lion Tamer also ran second in the Vase before winning the Derby so I think he’s the one. The only dangers, so I believe, are ESCADO and SUBIASO. Next best for mine is HONORIUS but I’ll be throwing only the first three in the quaddie.

2:40pm ADST – A couple of photos from the last race – the first of the mounting yard prior to the Mackinnon Stakes:

Second one is of Glen Boss heading out to ride beaten favourite Ocean Park:

2:29pm ADST – A bit of breaking news – they are conducting a stewards inquiry into Howmuchdoyouloveme. There may be more to come, and perhaps the hotpot may come out of the Group 2 Yellowglen Stakes (1200m) later today.

GROUP 1 MACKINNON STAKES (2000m)

Winner: 3. Alcopop – W: $5.20, P: $1.60
Second: 2. Glass Harmonium – P: $2.40
Third: 7. Ocean Park
– P: $1.04
Fourth: 5. Prairie Star

The battlers win a Group 1 with Alcopop! The pride of South Australia today is not the Adelaide Crows, but the Jake Stephens-trained gelding who has won his first Group 1 today. Glass Harmonium only slightly missed the start and as soon as he was able to find the lead without much trouble, he was always going to be hard to beat. And so it proved, as he lead until the shadows of the post. He opened up a large lead around the home turn, and his run was outstanding.

Ocean Park whacked away and probably wasn’t suited by the way the race was run, while Zabeelionaire and Winchester both hit the line nicely from a Melbourne Cup perspective. But the story here was Alcopop’s maiden Group 1 victory.

1:49pm ADST – Radio Sport National’s¬†Shane Anderson just took this photo of the post-race interview with John Thompson, Nechita’s trainer. We’re right in there, getting all the information for our readers!

1:45pm ADST – I haven’t mentioned yet that Nechita was Christian Reith’s first ride at Flemington, apparently. Trying to verify that – amazing if true. He was ecstatic as he crossed the line (photo from Steve Hart):

1:40pm ADST –¬†There’s no other way to put it – this is a very disappointing edition of the Group 1¬†Mackinnon Stakes (2000m), the next race on the card. Look at some of the winners of this race, just in the last 25 years – Rubiton (1987), Empire Rose (1988), Horlicks (1989), Better Loosen Up (1990), Let’s Elope (1991), Veandercross (1992), The Phantom(1993), Paris Lane (1994), Danewin (1995), Champagne (1998), Lonhro (2002), Grand Armee (2004), Desert War (2006) and So You Think (2010).

The only horse in this field who could possibly be held in such esteem as those horses in the future is OCEAN PARK, and that’s because we just don’t know how good he is. He was outstanding in the Cox Plate, and I definitely underrated him (even after backing him in the Underwood Stakes!). He’s very short here, but he should justify his odds by winning. Of concern is that Cox Plate winners don’t have a great record in the Mackinnon Stakes, but this is a weak field outside him so I wouldn’t be too concerned. Clear top-rater. DECEMBER DRAW loves Flemington and simply didn’t stay the trip when near the tail of the field in the Caulfield Cup. Back to 2000m at his favourite track, he looks the clear threat to Ocean Park. ALCOPOP was good in the Caulfield Stakes behind Ocean Park and the Caulfield Cup when he beat home all bar Dunaden. That said, he’s always shown his best at Caulfield while he’s raced below his best at Flemington. Still a chance but wary about his Flemington form. For fourth, go with last year’s winner GLASS HARMONIUM. If he jumps, he suddenly becomes very hard to beat – but as I said in last week’s Cox Plate preview, that’s the gamble you take by backing him. However, even if he misses the start, there doesn’t look to be a great deal of pace so he should be able to muster and get somewhere on speed. It depends on how much work he does to get there as to how well he’ll go. But it’s hard to imagine them beating Ocean Park. The most interest in the race comes from Melbourne Cup runners Winchester and Zabeelionaire. A lack of pace should play against, but the way they work home will give a guide to their chances on Tuesday. And Prairie Star can still qualify for the Melbourne Cup should he run in the top two.

1:37pm ADST – Here’s a picture of Zydeco as she streaks away to win the Wakeful Stakes earlier today…from Steve Hart.

1:35pm ADST – Glen Boss has been confirmed as the rider of Kelinni in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday. That’s a significant booking methinks…

GROUP 1 COOLMORE STUD STAKES (1200m)

Winner: 11. Nechita – W: $5.00, P: $2.20
Second: 10. Jolie Bay –
P: $2.30
Third: 6. Shamexpress –
P: $6.90
Fourth:  8. Knight Exemplar

Nechita proves her doubters – including me – wrong by winning in stirring fashion. She pulled away late to record a dominant victory, from Jolie Bay and Shamexpress. Of course, our each way selection Knight Exemplar runs fourth. That would have been nice!!! Snitzerland was fifth.

But it was nice to see the emotion from John Thompson as Nechita returned to scale. Group 1s are the pinnacle of our sport, and to see such emotion is something that highlights all that is good about racing.

1:04pm ADST – The¬†Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) is the first of the Group 1s on the card, and it has emerged as a top class race in the last five or six years. With Australia’s speed-influenced industry, it is a stepping stone to tackling the older sprinters. Since it was moved from late August/early September to its current spot on the calendar, the winners have included Sepoy (2011), Star Witness (2010), Headway (2009), Northern Meteor (2008), Weekend Hussler (2007) and Gold Edition (2006). Pretty outstanding honour roll!

This year looks another great edition of the race. SNITZERLAND has the picket fence next to her name and although she had to fight hard at her last start, she was still too good. Has to go up another notch here but this has been her target all spring and I’m sure she’ll be spot on. For me, the value lies with KNIGHT EXEMPLAR, who is untapped and I think may be a very nice sprinter. He hasn’t raced since the Roman Consul Stakes at Randwick a month ago, but he more than matched Jolie Bay (who also races here) on that occasion and it took a track record to beat her last start. I will be having something on him each way. I’m a fan of NECHITA but I’m worried this may be an afterthought for her, they’ve had plenty of time to direct her here but I just don’t know whether it is ideal. And I think LANKAN RUPEE is also a chance. But Snitzerland for me, with Knight Exemplar a good each way chance.

12:58pm ADST – Here’s Kelinni winning the Lexus Stakes, thanks to Steven Dowden of Race Horse Photos. As you can see, he’s not the greatest horse to look at, but for him to reach the Cup is quite something. He ran second in a 1400m race at Rosehill back on July 7 – my first race meeting back in Australia after my overseas trip!

12:55pm ADST – Terry O’Sullivan says Exceptionally will head to the Zipping Classic in two weeks after failing to qualify for the Melbourne Cup. Personally, I’d prefer to see her in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes with a cold ride. Would be the perfect race for her! Of the other runners, Gatewood will go for a spell but will stay in Australia under the care of Chris Waller.

12:50pm ADST – Now it’s time for the first of the Group 1s, the Coolmore Stud Stakes. We’ll have our preview shortly.

GROUP 2 WAKEFUL STAKES (2000m)

Winner: 4. Zydeco – W: $2.90, P: $1.50
Second: 6. Maraatib
– P: $8.50
Third: 5. Transonic
– P: $3.10
Fourth: 1. Dear Demi

Zydeco proves she has a bright future as a stayer with a strong win in the Wakeful Stakes. It never looked in much doubt and she won it with ease. Maraatib hit the line strongly for second, while Transonic fought on strongly. As a grandstand jockey, I have no idea what Jimmy Cassidy was doing on Dear Demi. She needs to get out with clear running, and she is still a chance in the Oaks. I’d still say it’s a two horse race – Zydeco and Dear Demi – on Thursday.

12:30pm ADST – The next race on the card is the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) for the three year old fillies. It is the main lead up race to the Crown Oaks on Thursday, with 34 fillies winning both the Wakeful and the Oaks since 1932. Of the past 25 winners of the Crown Oaks, 18 have had their final lead up in the Wakeful Stakes. Recent winners here have included Atlantic Jewel (2011), Brazilian Pulse (2010), Faint Perfume (2009), Zarita (2007), Tuesday Joy (2006), Serenade Rose (2005) and Hollow Bullet (2004). Clearly, it is a race for a classy filly.

The class seems to lie with the top one, DEAR DEMI. She has been looking for this trip for a month and a half, so I think she’ll relish getting out to the 2000m. That said, though, ZYDECO looks a potential staying filly with a tremendous turn of foot, so I’ll have her on top today. I think these two will fight out the Oaks on Thursday. Of the rest, I’ll be keeping an eye on LA ZUMA, who is by Zabeel and should improve as she goes further and further, and also the Goulburn filly ZUCCOTTO. But it does look a race for the favourites.

12:27pm ADST – Kelinni has not been penalised for today’s win and will carry 51kg on Tuesday. He meets Glencadam Gold 1.5kg better for a three length defeat in The Metropolitan at Randwick in early October.

12:20pm ADST – The top 24 for the Melbourne Cup as it stands currently is as follows:

Dunaden
Kelinni
Americain
Red Cadeaux
Jakkalberry
Winchester
Ethiopia
Voila Ici
Lights Of Heaven
Cavalryman
Sanagas
Mount Athos
Maluckyday
Green Moon
Mourayan
Niwot
Zabeelionaire
Glencadam Gold
My Quest For Peace
Tac de Boistron
Fiorente
Galileo’s Choice
Precedence
Unusual Suspect

12:18pm ADST – Kelinni has been posted up between $21 and $34 for the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, but will probably shorten over the next few days. I couldn’t have him personally. I’ll put up the top 24 as it stands currently in a few moments.

12:15pm ADST – The track has been upgraded to a Good 3 following the running of the second race. It’s firm out there.

12:13pm ADST – Next up is the Wakeful Stakes for the fillies, the primary lead up to the Crown Oaks on Thursday.

GROUP 3 LEXUS STAKES (2500m)

Winner: 4. Kelinni – W: $8.60, P: $2.50
Second: 12. Dare To Dream
– P: $2.50
Third: 8. Exceptionally –
P: $2.60
Fourth:  5. Ibicenco

It’s Kelinni who will be back here on Tuesday in the Melbourne Cup after just winning the Lexus Stakes. There were a couple of hard luck stories in the race – Dare To Dream and Ibicenco especially. Both were outstanding and we might see one or both of them next week. Exceptionally was probably ridden too close for her liking but battled away solidly for third, it’s been the story of her preparation though. The favourite Gatewood was plain.

11:57am ADST – Here’s a photo from Steve Hart of the two horse war between Lunar Rise and Tatra in the first:

11:53am ADST – Ben Smith (@AnchorInHope) has asked us on Twitter, when does the Channel 7 contract expire for the Melbourne Cup Carnival? There are different reports about when it expires. It was extended in 2006 until the end of this year’s carnival, but I believe it has since been extended further. I’ll aim to get an official response for you throughout the day.

11:51am ADST – The Melbourne Cup picture as it stands at the moment: Unusual Suspect is number 23, with Moudre 24, Lost In The Moment 25 and Brigantin 26. If the Lexus winner pushes ahead to the Cup, Moudre would be just outside the final 24.

11:47am ADST – Okay, let’s look at Race 2, the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) – the old Hotham Handicap. It’s the last realistic chance for horses outside the final Melbourne Cup field to jump in ahead of tonight’s acceptances – although the Mackinnon Stakes also offers ballot exemption later today. Horses that have done the Lexus Stakes-Melbourne Cup double include Shocking (2009), Brew (2000), Think Big (1974),¬†Foxzami (1949), Sirius (1944), Dark Felt (1943), White Nose (1931) and King Ingoda (1922). Other winners in recent times have included Niwot (2011), Maluckyday (2010) and Maybe Better (2006).

It’s hard to overlook the Geelong Cup winner GATEWOOD here, but I’m really hoping to see EXCEPTIONALLY win. She’s been in stunning form this prepartion without winning, and I think the Melbourne Cup would be a race she’d be really well suited in down in the weights. She’d also show that it is possible for the “bushies” to get a horse into the Melbourne Cup. So I’ll be cheering Exceptionally. Gatewood’s definitely the main danger, while I also give hopes to DARE TO DREAM and PEAL OF BELLS down from Sydney. EXCLUDED’s next best. Whoever wins here will definitely deserve their spot in the race.

11:34am ADST – It seems like this happens every year, but the complaints are already flooding in about Channel 7’s coverage. Most of the gripes revolve around the fact they don’t show the mounting yard whatsoever and their focus on the celebrity element of the races. My personal opinion? I think they have to cater for everyone, but perhaps they could use one of their digital channels show the mounting yard before each race – especially given TVN is not allowed to show footage from the ring.

11:30am ADST – The next race is the Lexus Stakes – all thirteen horses running here must win to get a run in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday. We will have a look at this race closer to jump time.

GROUP 3 CARBINE CLUB STAKES (1600m)

Winner: 5. Lunar Rise – W: $7.90, P: $2.30
Second: 1. Tatra РP: $2.30
Third:  3. Proverb РP: $2.10
Fourth: 8. Union Gap

A weird little race sees Bart Cummings win the first of 39 races over the Melbourne Cup Carnival. That’s surely a sign this will be a good week? Lunar Rise proves too strong late for Tatra late, with Proverb hitting the line nicely for third. Our tip Al Aneed was all over the place, not racing tractably and just looked green. He’ll be a better horse with more racing under his belt.

11:19am ADST – A picture taken from the Flemington mounting yard this morning:

11:17am ADST – They are heading out onto the track for the first on Derby Day. Cheering Al Aneed hard!

11:14am ADST – Please feel free to get in on the conversation by tweeting me at @AndrewNJHawkins. Would love to hear your thoughts about today’s card!

11:12am ADST –¬†The first race on the card is the¬†Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m)¬†for the three year olds. This race has produced some nice types in recent years, including Galah (2011), Kidnapped (2009), Dr Doute’s (2008), Permaiscuous (2006), Testafiable (2005), Al Maher (2004), Sir Dex (2003), Delago Brom (2002), Over (1999) and Saintly (1995). This year’s race brings together a number of horses stepping up to the trip for the first time, in addition to a number of horses dropping back in journey. That makes for one intriguing lineup. I do think the market has it right though.

I was really taken by the win at Caulfield of AL ANEED. He flew late along the rail under a masterful ride from Glen Boss and he shapes as though 1600m at Flemington will really suit. I’m very keen on his chances. LUNAR RISE is down for Bart Cummings, and he drops back from the Spring Champion Stakes where he finished behind two very nice horses in Proisir and It’s A Dundeel. I’m not sure the drop back in distance suits, but at this stage he should be fine. TATRA also drops back in distance, but only from 1800m. He had absolutely no luck last start in the UCI Stakes, and back to 1600m fresh should suit. And UNION GAP has been the street corner tip, so must be included.

11:05am ADST – With 15 minutes until the first, here are my tips for the meeting. However, I will give a full analysis of each race 15 minutes prior to every race.

Race 1 – Al Aneed
Race 2 – Exceptionally
Race 3 – Zydeco
Race 4 – Snitzerland
Race 5 – Ocean Park
Race 6 – It’s A Dundeel
Race 7 – Soft Sand
Race 8 – Howmuchdoyouloveme
Race 9 Р Fawkner

11:00am ADST – Of course, much of the interest lies in tonight’s confirmation of the final Melbourne Cup field. We should be able to make some sort of a prediction about the final field following the Lexus Stakes and the Mackinnon Stakes, but horses can still drop out throughout the day. We’ve already had last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Southern Speed withdrawn with a suspensory injury this morning – early reports suggest she is likely to be retired.

10:54am ADST – The track is currently a Dead 4, with the prospect of an upgrade later in the day. The penetrometer is 4.75 across the course proper – down the straight, it is a reading of 4.78 on the inside, 4.84 on the outside (or down the grandstand rail). This suggests you may see horses drift to the inside of the track during the two straight races – the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) and the Group 2 Yellowglen Sprint (1200m).

10:40am ADST – Welcome to Flemington for Derby Day, the biggest and best raceday on the Australian calendar. It’s Andrew Hawkins here, live from Melbourne on what is a beautiful spring day. Nine races are on the card today: four at Group 1 level, two at Group 2 level and three at Group 3 level. It promises to be an exceptional day of racing with some of the best horseflesh on display. It also promises to be an incredible day off the track, with more than 120 000 people expected to flock to Flemington. We here at Just Horse Racing will bring you all the latest news and views in regards to today’s racing, with the occasional look at what’s happening here off the track. We hope you will enjoy our coverage of Derby Day!

 
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