Expert tips for a huge Melbourne Cup Day
FINDING a winner on Melbourne Cup Day is never an easy task but we'll do our best to build some sort of bank before the main event at 3:00pm (AEDT).
The Flemington track played beautifully on Saturday with the rail true and it will remain in that position for this meeting.
There are some showers forecast for Tuesday but it's unlikely they will have much effect on the track, which should start off as a good 4.
It's not too late to organise your office sweepstake, which you can do with our Melbourne Cup sweep generator.
RACE 1 (11AM) - EMIRATES 100TH A380 STAKES (1000m)
JUST two of these babies have been to the races before, with both Setsuna (Inglis 2YO on Cox Plate day) and Qafila (Debutant Stakes on Guineas day) recording narrow but impressive last-start wins.
Qafila ($4.60) benefited from a terrific D Oliver steer on debut, making up many lengths to nail Sacred Sword on the wire. Kerrin McEvoy and a wider draw are big ticks here, expect this Lindsay Park-prepared filly to be closing-off powerfully.
Setsuna ($6) atoned for her unlucky debut run in the Gimcrack to again travel deep but finish powerfully at the Valley. The Waterhouse-Bott yard have hand-picked a terrific Melbourne team this spring and this filly should acquit herself well again. Not sure the 1 gate is ideal?
Tony McEvoy racks up Melbourne two-year-olds wins for fun and he has a three-strong hand here. Foxwedge filly Aristocratic Miss trialled stylishly at Morphettville Parks before shying approaching the winning post - I suspect she has her share of ability.
Stablemate Lake District Girl ($5.50) was a narrow second in a Cranbourne trial but looked to be travelling better than the winner to the line.
She's been to the trials twice and looks smart.
The Weir runner Farthing Wood (5) looked a big strong filly in her narrow Echuca trial win but I suspect she might want a touch further than the 1000m. Will want galloping room, not sure the straight will suit if they race in a bunch as has become commonplace.
RACE 2 (11.40AM) - TAB.COM.AU TROPHY (1700m)
HELL or Highwater will probably head forward from out wide to take up the running ahead of Rocket Commander and Tahanee. Linguist may push forward from out wider. Miles of Krishan maps nicely just off the pace.
Pretty keen on Invincibella (barrier 3) here. She didn't look overly comfortable held-up against the fence from barrier 1 last start but she still hit the line nicely in a seriously fast-run race. The Waller mare was super winning her first two starts this campaign and she can hit back hard here from the more suitable draw (slots in around midfield on the outside of runners).
Tahanee (5) ran okay at Caulfield two-back before an ordinary effort on Cox Plate Day. This is an easier assignment and she does map to enjoy a nice run just off the speed. The import has now had four runs for Weir and should be ready to show her best.
Linguist (13) should roll forward here and settle on the outside of the likely leader Hell Or Highwater.
Her two career wins have both come over this distance, by 4.75 lengths and 4 lengths respectively. She can mix up her form but she's probably over the odds at $15.
Miles Of Krishan (8) hasn't set the world on fire in her two starts since resuming but it was only three starts ago that she finished within a length of Amelie's Star in the G2 Queen Of The South (1600m) at Morphettville. She maps favourably here and can improve.
Hell Or Highwater (1) raced like a very tired horse last start (been in work since June) and looks under the odds at $7.50.
Verdict: Invincibella (3) looks hard to beat.
RACE 3 (12.15PM) - LAVAZZA BLACK (1400m)
STRONG speed here with early pace right across the track. Dollar for Dollar will be looking to boot through on the fence, with Milwaukee, Snipfit and Ozi Choice working across from out wide. Fox Hall has the carpark draw so it will be interesting to see what Luke Currie does.
Solid pace in this which should suit Land Of Plenty (barrier 3) provided the gaps open up for him from barrier 2 (probably prefer if he drew out).
He's a pretty enigmatic type and he sits on just the one win from 13 starts but he's coming right back in grade after contesting the G2 Bobbie Lewis (3rd), the G1 Rupert Clarke (8th) and the G2 Gilgai (7th). His run here in the G3 CS Hayes (1400m) back in March was an absolute cracker when 3rd behind Hey Doc.
Milwaukee (9) was strong last start, sitting outside of the leader before pulling clear to knock off the short-priced favourite Divine Quality who he meets again here. He makes his own luck up on-speed and he can run serious time. His win over this trip in the Bendigo Guineas (1400m) was sensational, smashing Sword of Light by 2.25 lengths in 1:22.26.
Divine Quality (12) was soundly beaten at $1.40 last start following a dominant first-up win at Ballarat when $1.50. The daughter of Sepoy steps beyond 1200m for the first time which is a little query but she does possess a handy turn-of-foot. Expect her to settle in the second-half of the field from barrier 7.
The barrier looks ugly on paper but hopefully Currie takes a punt and sends Fox Hall (5) forward in the hope of slotting in just off what shapes as a strong pace.
The McEvoy gelding won brilliantly two-back, defeating Red is the Rose who has since won by a big space at the Valley. He was rolled at $1.65 last start but the ride was ill-judged.
RACE 4 (12.50PM) - RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE CHARITIES PLATE (2800m)
THE map looks fairly clear-cut with Granddukeoftuscany taking up the running from barrier 1 ahead of Sin to Win and The Willybe from out wide. They should settle clear of Baykool and Miss Danni.
Sin To Win (barrier 6) maps to get the right run here if The Willybe wants to take on Granddukeoftuscany for the lead. The Lindsay Park gelding stepped up to 2400m last start and fought back to win after being headed in the straight.
That followed a similar win over 2025m at Mornington where he really responded under hard-riding. He's rock-hard fit, drops down to just 54kg and gets the services of Kerrin McEvoy. If he handles the extra 400m (which is obviously a query) he should go close at $6.50.
Granddukeoftuscany (3) looked absolutely cooked at the 200m last start but he fought back tenaciously in what was a gutsy staying performance. He beat home Almandin there, among others, which is obviously a handy reference for this. Whether he can repeat that effort remains to be seen (he's not the easiest horse to catch on the punt).
Yogi (5) can't go a yard early but he can really motor late and Weir has applied the blinkers for the first time here. The 5YO will be right out the back from barrier 19 and he'll be spotting the above two horses a big start but he's still on the up.
The best roughie here might be Settler's Stone (8) at $27. He finished 3rd to Sin To Win at Caulfield two-back, beaten 1.9 lengths, but he meets that galloper better at the weights here. He ran a lovely race here at huge odds in the Listed Roy Higgins (2600m) back in March.
Verdict: Backing Sin To Win (6) each-way - 1 x 3 doesn't look the worst play given he's $2.40 for the place.
RACE 5 (1.25PM) - SCHWEPPES FLEMINGTON FLING (1000m)
STRAIGHT course dash with Easy Beast, Wait For No One, Sam's Image and Madeenaty all heading forward. The middle was the place to be on Saturday, although Rich Charm did swoop home out wider in the last.
This is a fair step up for Nature Strip (barrier 8) but he looks up to the task based on his first couple of outings. He covered a stack of ground to win in good time on debut before running home hard for 2nd behind Sam's Image at Moonee Valley last start.
He appears to have drawn nicely here to stalk the speed down the middle of the track and he's already shown that he can accelerate quickly when asked.
Paret (9) is still pretty green but his talent is obvious. He comes back from 1300m to 1000m off a 45-day break which is some query but he should be motoring home late if he can stay in touch for the first 400m. The horse who beat him last start in Beau Geste is a talented type.
Madeenaty (4) has stepped out over this route four times for 1 win and 3 minor placings. She boasts a wind-assisted winning time of 56.58 down the straight which is seriously slick.
Property (1) was disappointing on resumption at Caulfield but he did bump into a fit, flying machine in Snitty Kitty (she clocked a sizzling 56.28 for the 1000m).
Would have liked him to at least finish off a bit better than he did but he can improve 2nd-up with than run under his belt. He was an impressive winner when 2nd-up over this trip last campaign.
Verdict: Nature Strip (8) for the win. $7 looks a decent price for this promising sprinter.
RACE 6 (2PM) - LEXUS HYBRID PLATE (1400m)
OUR Crown Mistress leads from the inside alley or sits in behind the leader if Warranty wants to push on and take it up. Boorooj and Lilas may be sent forward from wide barriers, while River Jewel and Counterplay map to settle just forward of midfield.
Our Crown Mistress (barrier 2) looks one of the better bets on the card. The grey filly was brilliant winning at Geelong two-back and she backed that up with a strong win in good time at Caulfield last start, staving off a challenge from the promising Naantali. She should lob in the first couple here from the inside draw and she'll strip even fitter for this. It will take a good effort to run her down.
Warranty (6) comes to Melbourne in good form, leading all the way to win over 1300m at Kembla Grange before repeating the dose at Randwick up to 1400m. Bowman takes the ride here for Team Snowden and she's drawn to put herself in the race early.
Counterplay (3) finished 1 length off Our Crown Mistress at Caulfield last start and was the best of the closers. She should land in a nice spot here for Moreira and if the leaders cut at each other in front she could be the one swooping over the top. Stokes always has to be respected during the Flemington carnival.
Torvill (1) has an awkward draw to contend with but she was impressive winning in good time at Randwick last start. Tarcoola Spirit (8) is flying but is another who has drawn a sticky barrier. There was plenty to like about her fast-finishing 2nd at the Valley last start.
Verdict: Our Crown Mistress (2).
RACE 7 (3PM) - EMIRATES MELBOURNE CUP (3200m)
WALL Of Fire (barrier 20) was terrific in the G2 Herbert Power (2400m) at his Australian debut and the form out of that race has stacked up well through Boom Time and Lord Fandango. There was plenty to like about his run in the G3 Geoffrey Freer (2716m) prior which has traditionally been a solid reference for this race. Last year's winner Almandin (2) was plain last start but utterly dominant prior to that in a truly-run race over 2500m here.
The X-factor might be the lightly-raced Rekindling (22) coming off a nice performance in the G1 St Leger (2921m). With just 51.5kg he looks dangerous from the good draw. Rounding out the top four is Marmelo (5) who is coming off a real eye-catcher in the G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
RACE 8 (4.05PM) - JAMES BOAG'S PREMIUM STAKES (1800m)
LUBITON should have the early pace to lead from out wide ahead of Kidmenever, Turnitaround, Radipole and Odeon. Tashbeeh is another who can settle reasonably handy in the big field.
Lubiton (barrier 11) led and broke the Valley 1600m record last start, defeating Savapinski by 1.25 lengths with Invincibella 3rd.
She again looks the leader and she'll take some running down with her strong fitness base. The extra 200m is some query but she shouldn't cop too much pressure in the run. Winning form is good form, particularly when you're breaking track records.
Life Less Ordinary (10) has been freshened for this drop back to 1800m (from 2400m). He always runs well off a break (5:2-2-0) and he should enjoy the expansive surrounds of Flemington. He'll be spotting them a fair start from barrier 16 but look for him late.
The real Pure Pride (12) stood up here two-back, slicing through the field from the back to romp home by 2 lengths.
She then went to the Seymour Cup over 1600m and was held-up for most of the straight, which certainly isn't unusual for her with her racing pattern. This is her first time stepping beyond the mile, which is a little query, but she is bred to stay. As always, she'll need luck.
No shock to see Kidmenever (3) show dramatic improvement here after pulling up with all sorts of issues after his Australian debut in the G2 Herbert Power (2400m). He comes right back in trip and McEvoy jumps aboard. His European form is handy for this grade.
Verdict: Lubiton (11) hard to run down again but this is an open affair.
RACE 9 (4.45pm) - MSS SECURITY SPRINT (1200m)
STRAIGHT course race and the main early speed looks to be out wide through Faatinah and Quatronic. Kuro won't be too far away.
It might be an advantage to be coming stand side by this stage of the day so I'm looking to those drawn out. Nancy (8) was ordinary on resumption but she can improve lengths back on a drier surface. She boasts 8 top-two finishes from 14 starts on good-rated ground and she only needs to repeat her massive Silk Stocking (1200m) run on the Gold Coast back in May to be highly competitive in this. Blinkers first time.
I Thought So (barrier 15) boasts a strong record over this trip and he very rarely runs a bad race. He gives the impression that the straight-course will suit.
Calanda (6) has drawn in, which may not be ideal, but he can certainly improve on his 1st-up run when given little to no hope. He sat wide towards the back for the entire 1200m journey but stuck on pretty well all things considered. His win in the Ramornie two-back was super (1:07.56 for the Grafton 1200m).
This is a significant rise in grade for I'm Telling Ya (18) but he was impressive overcoming a few traffic issues to score over 1100m here last start. Lane had to duck and weave over the final 400m but the Johnston gelding really knuckled down to attack the line when clear. Oberland (17) is one to keep safe at huge odds - he wasn't bad behind Rich Charm at Caulfield last start.
Verdict: Nancy (8) worth a play at $21.
RACE 10 (5.20PM) - THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB STAKES (1400m)
QUILISTA may lead initially but Improvement may push on to take up the running. Lucyinrio will probably roll forward from barrier 14. Deja Blue maps to camp just off the leaders, while Miss Gunpowder should enjoy a nice run from barrier 6.
White Moss (barrier 5) is assembling a terrific record (five wins from eight starts) and has won with plenty in reserve at her last couple. She was far too good when supported late in the G3 Nivision (1200m) at Randwick on October 21 and again maps to receive an economical run for Collett. The daughter of Mossman rises to 1400m here which should suit perfectly.
Fuhryk (1) enjoyed a dream run in the Listed Alinghi (1100m) on Caulfield Cup day and absolutely charged through the line when asked to go by Craig Williams, bolting up a 2.2 lengths winner from subsequent Derby Day-winner Lyuba.
The 59kg will be a test but she's drawn beautifully and appears virtually certain to at least play a hand in the finish. Unplaced in two Flemington runs but that's deceptive (charging/unlucky fourth in blanket finish to Inglis Dash and outclassed/led them up before dropping off in G1 Australian Guineas).
Cool Passion (3) brings terrific formlines to this event having split G1-winners Global Glamour and Shillelagh when just nabbed in the G2 Tristarc (1400m) on Caulfield Cup day.
She's another with an impressive winning strike rate (nine from 19) and gets her first look at Flemington here.
Quilate (4) is going very well this campaign for Mick Kent but her form might just be a rung below that of the top-three selections.
One for the quaddie might be Jamaican Rain (16) from the enigmatic Laming yard. The tongue-tie comes off for the first time on the back of her defeat as a raging $1.20 favourite at Seymour. Back in trip suits and the run prior behind Merriest/Petition was decent enough.
If Eckstein (2) backs-up from going down a pimple in the G1 Myer Classic then Kurt Goldman's mare is obviously in it up to her ears.
Verdict: Cheering the grey White Moss.