It’s the first Tuesday in Novemeber…it’s here…it’s Cup Day. The one day of the year where all Australians have an opinion on who will win the great race, the $6 Million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m). The two French gallopers, Americain and Dunaden, head the top of the market ahead of Mount Athos, who could provide trainer Luca Cumani with that breakthrough Cup victory.
But there are many, many other threats. Red Cadeaux only needs to improve an inch from last year to be right in the finish. Winchester caught the eye in the Caulfield Cup and the Mackinnon, as did Zabeelionaire. Can Godolphin finally win a Melbourne Cup thanks to Cavalryman, which will be the last horse that Frankie Dettori will ride for the powerhouse racing stable. Sanagas worked home well in the Caulfield Cup and has the Bart polish…we could go on and on about the great race. Here is a preview of the 2012 Melbourne Cup Raceday.
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Race One: 7News Plate 1000m Form Guide
Back Me: Going for the Adelaide youngster Thiamandi. This daughter of Street Boss trialled over 900m last week at Murray Bridge and absolutely flew, winning by four lengths in a tick 52 seconds, which is lightning fast. In a race where it’s a dartboard job, she will go on top.
Don’t Back Me: Villa Verde won quite well at Caulfield, but she had everything go her way in the run. Barrier 14 here will make it tough, despite it being run down the straight.
Big Danger: Endless Summer was another that trialled well and in good time. This is on debut for Gai and her babies have performed quite well so far in Melbourne. Keep an eye on it.
Roughie: Itameri is on debut for Peter Snowden and is yet to be seen in public, but it is trained on the track, so it would have had plenty of experience down the straight, which is a big advantage in these two year old races.
Race Two: Tab Trophy Handicap 1700m Form Guide
Back Me: Very keen on Sense Of Pride. This former American based mare has had two runs on Australia soil for Grahame Begg in Sydney. She really caught the eye last start in the Angst at Rosehill where she got back and charged late when finishing fourth behind Nocturnelle, the in-form mare of Sydney racing. The step up to 1700m looks perfect and the wide surroundings of Flemington will allow her to stretch out in clear air.
Don’t Back Me: I was very keen on Shihabi at Seymour and she won, but only just, and the race was a tad weak compared to the field she is up against here today. Looks to be a risk.
Big Danger: I can save a bit of time for Champagne Ruby. Showed plenty of promise during the Autumn. Has had two runs during the Spring for a third at Sportingbet Park before leading all the way at Mornington. She should get the dream run from the barrier and prove hard to beat with Williams on board.
Roughie: I’d keep a close eye on Aliyana. She was quite impressive during Bendigo Cup Day where she sat near the speed and kicked hard to draw away from her rivals. She is better ridden with a sit and Nick Hall is the best rider for this situation. A blowout chance.
Race Three: Lavazza Long Black (95)2800m Form Guide
Back Me: Very keen on Garud. I am a big of this bloke, especially after he toyed with his rivals on Geelong Cup Day. Sat in the first four, and after being held up for a few strides, he pushed out into the clear and sprinted hard and attacked the line. That was 2400m so I have no worries about him running 2800m. Back on his home track and if there is a touch of rain about, he’ll even be harder to beat.
Don’t Back Me: Verdant and Crafty Cruiser are tough stayers, but I feel they just lack the quality to win this race. Happy to leave them out of the equation.
Big Danger: Practiced ran very well last week in the Bendigo Cup but was just no match for Puissance De Lune. A possible query at the 2800m, but from barrier two, he should be asleep on the fence and have every chance of running the trip out.
Roughie: A couple of roughies to throw in are Mr Lowndes and Altonio. Mr Lowndes is a South Australian stayer who will just whack away all day. He showed that last start over 2500m with a gritty and determined win. Altonio has had a few starts for Pat Carey and has caught the eye in a couple of runs. He wasn’t too bad behind Garud at Geelong and could sneak into the first four.
Race Four: Herald Sun Stakes 1400m Form Guide
Back Me: Very tricky race. I like the price of Angel Of Mercy. She was quite good first up in the Nivison at Randwick when settling well back and working home strongly out wide to finish sixth behind Quidnuc. She has some very good form in her two career runs at Flemington, with form around her inclduing Shopaholic, Mosheen and Empress Rock. Will need luck from barrier 20, but if she gets that luck, she’ll be right in the finish.
Don’t Back Me: Mid Summer Music looks terribly short in betting given she hasn’t won at Flemington in five career starts plus the fact she isn’t comfortable on firm going.
Big Danger: Whateverwhenever claimed a big scalp last start in the shape of King’s Rose at Caulfield when she sprinted hard late. She is absolutely flying at the moment and although she isn’t weighted best, she just can’t be ignored. Cabarnet is the sort of mare that has to be saved up for the final 300m, and she’ll get that chance here from the inside barrier. She got home nicely when resuming in the same race that Angel Of Mercy contested. She should be treated carefully, as should Sheila’s Star. She was luckless first up at Caulfield and despite the fact she is a dud at Flemington, she should be kept safe.
Roughie: Aerobatics was stiff at Geelong where she couldn’t get a clear crack at them. She is the blowout horse. Another one that could be a threat if she gains a start is New Beginning. She was all at sea at Caulfield and will appreciate racing at Flemington.
Race Five: Schweppes Tonic 1000 1000m Form Guide
Back Me: This race is usually won by good horses, but gee this is a shocking race. I am going with a horse that has no bad marks next to its name- Sistine Demon. Won a trial nicely at Cranbourne before stepping out to make her debut at Caulfield in a hot three year old race. She raced three wide with no cover yet stuck on quite well for third. She’ll get a nice sit near the speed from the barrier and looks big overs at $7.
Don’t Back Me: Malasun looks a bit overrated and has been ordinary in two runs this time in. Bit surprised to see her favourite.
Big Danger: Magnier pulled his head off in the Gothic at Caulfield. He looks much better suited at 1000m and drops significantly in grade. Genteel was quite impressive first up at Gosford where she sat close to the speed and kicked strongly to win in smart time.
Roughie: On his best form, The Travelling Man can run a cheeky race. Probably struggles at 1000m on a normal, but he may run it out ok down the straight here.
Race Six: Lexus Hybrid Plate 1400m Form Guide
Back Me: I have been quite impressed with Benenden in all three runs this time in. Ran into Angelic Light first up, then in two subsequent runs, she has looked very good in winning both. Meets Angelic Light 2kg better for that clash at Kilmore and appears to have a touch more upside than Angelic Light, plus she has the barrier advantage.
Don’t Back Me: Walk With Attitude looked a tired horse last start in the Edward Manifold. She has since been freshened, but she is doing all of this in her first preparation. She needs the paddock.
Big Danger: Angelic Light looks to be a well above average filly who has looked awesome in three wins from as many starts this campaign. She looked very good last start in the Crockett at Moonee Valley when sprinting hard over the final furlong. The price is a tad short, but she should still prove hard to hold out here.
Roughie: Balaclava Lady looks a capable type who was strong at Caulfield three back, then didn’t appreciate the bone dry surface in the Thousand Guineas. Then she worked home ok at Moonee Valley in a handy fillies race. She lays in quite badly, so she has plenty to learn, but she is on her home track here and the trainer/rider combo have a very good strike rate.
Race Seven: Emirates Melbourne Cup 3200m Form Guide
Back Me: As is the case always, picking the Melbourne Cup winner is a nightmare. But it is the pinnacle for every Australian punter. One of the best theories going around with the Melbourne Cup is that if you have failed to win a Melbourne Cup then come back in the future for another attempt, you won’t do any better. Using this theory, that rules out Red Cadeaux, Maluckyday, Niwot, Precedence and Unusual Suspect. Americain doesn’t count because he won in 2010. I am a huge fan of Mourayan and he’ll have my money. He has been outstanding in three runs this Spring. Finished fourth in the Makybe Diva when sitting three deep on the speed, then finished a fighting second in the Hill Stakes before showing great determination and fight to win the Craven Plate, beating Western Symbol and Dare To Dream, with the latter being very unlucky in the Lexus behind Kelinni. From barrier three, Bowman has all the options in the world and he should get the run of the race. Plus the weight. It takes a lot for Bowman to get down to 56-55kg, but he is going down to 53.5kg here. He wouldn’t do that unless he thinks this horse is a genuine chance.
Don’t Back Me: The last six Melbourne Cup winners have not carried more than 54.5kg to victory. In that case, the top six acceptors may struggle, which includes the two big guns, Americain and Dunaden.
Big Danger: Mount Athos has been near the top of the betting since the markets were first opened several months ago. He fits the profile of a Melbourne Cup contender: He is lightly raced, in winning form, has a turn of foot, loves a firm track, drawn perfectly, weighted perfectly and one of the best riders in the world, Ryan Moore, takes the ride.
Roughie: Ok, in acceptance order, here are my roughies to include. Cavalryman, because he certainly has the class and quality to win this, plus it will be Dettori’s last ever ride for Godolphin. Sanagas worked home beautifully in the Caulfield Cup and his trackwork since has been outstanding from all reports. Ethiopia is probably the Melbourne Cup horse next year, but his Cox Plate run was superb and looks the best chance of the local gallopers. My Quest For Peace was quite good in the Caulfield Cup where he got to the front far too early. If he has a bunny to chase, he could threaten. The other danger is Zabeelionaire, who got home strongly in the Caulfield Cup then found the line well in the Mackinnon.
Race Eight: Diamond Jubilee Plate 1800m Form Guide
Back Me: Tribal Rock was desperately unlucky in the Seymour Cup behind Callanish. He was travelling beautifully in the run, but was checked severely throughout the straight and only got clear in the final 100m and charged late. The step up to 1800m looks ideal and the bigger surroundings of Flemington look right up his alley.
Don’t Back Me: Menados is too frustrating for me to back. Has the talent, but his racing pattern does allow him to cop luck…with most of it being bad. Just looks to be a risk.
Big Danger: Lightinthenite probably shouldn’t have won last start, but thankfully for his backers, he was held up and held up, which allowed him to save some energy for the finish, which saw him outgun Bagman. He has drawn well again and despite the weight rise, he will prove hard to hold out.
Roughie: Grey Assignment is a tough bugger who just wants to win. He probably rises in grade, but he’ll give 110% here and figure in the finish no doubt and he does look a touch of overs.
Race Nine: Mss Security Sprint 1200m Form Guide
Back Me: If he gets a start, then Unpretentious is one of the better bets of the afternoon. Has always shown top class ability, but just failed to put it all together. Well he put it all together first up at Ballarat with a thumping six length win. That form has been franked with second and third in that race running the quinella in a strong race during Geelong Cup Day. He goes very well down the straight and looks a great price of $4.20.
Don’t Back Me: Too Many Reds has been racing well of late, but I question her Queensland form, and her run at Randwick was flattered because of the gem of a ride that McMahon produced. I think she is a risk, especially on her Melbourne debut.
Big Danger: Cascabel ran a nice race first up behind the talented Free Wheeling at Caulfield. Was caught wide and back in a slowly run race, but still found the line ok. He loves racing down the straight at Flemington and could be the big improver.
Roughie: The two other chances are Famous Seamus, who beat Too Many Reds in a thrilling finish at Randwick, and Sea Lord, who sat on the speed and fought very strongly to win at the Valley. They both can sit on the speed and prove hard to run down.
Race Ten: Headquarters Tavern Plate (89) 1400m Form Guide
Back Me: If Aeronautical gets clear air in the final 600m, then he’ll go very close to winning this. Was the early favourite for the Golden Rose last year, but went completely off the boil. But he has turned the corner this campaign, with two unlucky runs followed up by a dominant display at Rosehill. He is back to his best and that will nearly just get him home here.
Don’t Back Me: Hot Lover raced very well during the Autumn and has trialled well for this, but gee he looks short enough at $6 against this quality field. It’ll be a big effort by trainer Patrick Payne if this horse can win first up.
Big Danger: Mahisara was superb first up when winning at Rosehill, then didn’t appear to handle Caulfield at all when beaten by Instinction, the same horse that beat him during Cup week last year. The booking of Williams is a good lead and he could easily bounce back here.
Roughie: I’ll provide a real blowout horse at huge odds- Hot Spin. He was run off his legs in the Apache Cat at Cranbourne, so forgive/forget there, then he went to the Valley and he missed the start and was never ever in clear space yet was only beaten two lengths. A wide barrier here, no worries. Nash will send him forward and be near the speed and racing on his home track here, he could be a real smokey to end the day.
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