Americain’s defence of the Melbourne Cup makes him the benchmark horse for this year’s running of the great race.
As the favourite and the topweight, the French stayer is a logical choice for the once-a-year punter but winning the Cup two years in a row has always been a difficult task and how he stacks up against other historical aspects of the race also have be taken into account.
Only five horses have won the Cup two or more times.
The great Makybe Diva won it three years in a row from 2003 to 2005 but the only other horses to win in successive years were the first ever winner Archer (1861-62), Rain Lover (1968-69) and Think Big (1974-75), while Peter Pan won in split years (1932 and 1934).
Americain will carry the prestigious number one as the topweight and since saddlecloths were first recorded in 1877 it has won 10 Cups, second only to number four, (Drunken Sailor) and number 12 (Red Cadeaux) with 11 wins each.
Saddlecloth six, (Manighar) is in form with six of its seven Cup wins in the past 50 years while number two (Jukebox Jury) has had five of its seven wins since 1969.
Americain was the fourth horse to win carrying number eight (Fox Hunt) since 1987.
Numbers to be wary of are 20 (Shamrocker), which has been on a losing streak since 1897, and 18 (Moyenne Corniche) which was carried to victory for the first and only time by Peter Pan in 1932.
Numbers nine (Lucas Cranach) with five wins, 19 (Saptapadi) with six wins and 23 (Niwot) with two wins have been on losing streaks since 1957, 1942 and 1922 respectively.
Lucas Cranach has drawn gate 11, the same barrier Americain won from last year, and which has won a record eight Cups since barriers were first allocated in 1924 and six since starting stalls as we know them, were first used in 1958.
Mourayan will start from barrier 14 which has had six wins, including five since 1958.
Americain’s barrier 15 has won the Cup just once while Tullamore has barrier 12 which has won twice, but not since 1949.
The bogey barrier is 18 (Hawk Island) which is completely winless.
Liking a horse’s name has been a popular way for many to make their Cup selection and clearly horses starting with the initial ‘T’ (The Verminator and Tullamore) have had the edge in the Cup with 16 wins.
Horses starting with “The” (as in The Verminator) have won eight Melbourne Cups, the most recent The Trump in 1937.
Other popular first initials are “M” (Manighar, Modun, Mourayan and Moyenne Corniche), “P” (Precedence) and “S” (Saptapadi and Shamrocker). Americain was the 10th ‘A’ winner.
Fox Hunt would be the second ‘F’ winner after Foxzami (1949), and Older Than Time would join the ‘O’ club with Old Rowley in 1940.
Illo would be the first Cup winner with the initial ‘I’ and Unusual Suspect would the first with the initial ‘U’.
Americain was the 84th winner with a one-word name while double-barrelled names have won 61 Cups, the last being Japan’s Delta Blues (2006).
Might And Power (1998) was the last of five three-word named winners and At First Sight and Older Than Time get their chance to join him, while Lost In The Moment would the first four-word winner of the Cup and also the longest named winner with 18 characters (including spaces).
Moyenne Corniche has 16 characters and would also beat the record of 15 characters which can be equalled by Glass Harmonium, Unusual Suspect and Older Than Time.
Geelong Cup winner Dunaden is the only horse with a seven-character name which has best record with 31 Cups, Saintly being the last in 1996, while Fox Hunt, Mourayan, Saptapadi and Tullamore have eight characters (22 wins).
Illo, with four characters, would be the shortest named winner along with Zulu (1880), Kiwi (1983), and Brew (2000).
Four and five-year-olds share a record 43 Cups each but the recent trend has been towards the more seasoned stayer.
While six-year-olds have only won 29 Cups, six have been in the past 13 years while two of 10 seven-year-old winners figure is the same period.
Shamrocker is the youngest runner and the only four-year-old in this year’s Cup while there are eight five-year-olds, 10 six-year-olds, and five seven-year-olds, including Americain.
Eight-year-old Unusual Suspect would be the oldest Cup winner along Toryboy (1868) and Catalogue (1938).
Shamrocker and Older Than Time are looking to improve on the 16 wins by females in the Cup and they can’t be discounted with seven mares, including triple winner Makybe Diva, having won since 1988.
Males have been dominant with 134 wins. Americain was the 85th entire to win, including 19 colts, while Efficient (2007) was the last of 49 geldings.
Bay coloured horses have won a record 62 Cups and they make up half this year’s field. Modun is the only brown horse (37 wins) while there are five chestnuts (34 wins).
Americain and Mourayan are registered as bay or brown coloured horses (six wins).
Jukebox Jury, Glass Harmonium and Manighar are greys which have won six Cups.
Matching age, sex and colour and Lucas Cranach and Lost In the Moment, as five-year-old entires, stand out (10 wins) as there are no four-year-old bay entires (12 wins) in the field.
Six-year-old bay entires (seven wins) are Dunaden and Illo.
Americain and French compatriot Dunaden are among 11 internationals in the Cup. Along with Drunken Sailor, Manighar, Saptapadi, and Moyenne Corniche they have, importantly, had Australian lead up runs to the Cup, which has been a feature of three of four overseas-trained Cup winners.
Weighted to win with 53kg (eight wins) are Hawk Island, Illo, Lost In The Moment and Modun as well as At First Sight (52.5kg, eight wins).
Dunaden would be eighth winner with 54.5kg (Americain’s weight last year) while Americain would be the fifth horse to win with 58kg.
Dunaden, Fox Hunt and The Verminator all attracted weight penalties which is significant given that it is something that 43 Cup winners have done.
Looking at the jockeys and it is best to choose those with plain-bodied silks (56 wins) such as Jukebox Jury, Fox Hunt, Illo, Lost In the Moment, Modun, At First Sight, and Shamrocker.
Illo, Moyenne Corniche and Older Than Time have riders with red caps (30 wins).
And don’t forget Bart Cummings is chasing his 13th Melbourne Cup with Illo and Precedence.
It is best to follow in-form horses as 20 of the 30 winners have won or placed at their last start.
Americain would be the 27th outright favourite to win the Cup while seven equal favourites have won but horses at $9 and $11 have been the most successful with 12 and 14 wins respectively.
Horses at $5 and $17 (11 wins each) and $6 (10 wins) also have good records while there have been 16 winners at $31 or longer, with the longest priced winners at $101 being The Pearl (1870), Wotan (1936) and Old Rowley (1940).
Prediction: Illo from Fox Hunt, Tullamore, and Shamrocker.