Bruce in awe: ‘This is ridiculous’
WHEN you can't decide who is going to win Australia's greatest race, sometimes you just have to do what any good journalist does and barrack for the story.
Here are the five best stories surrounding the horses involved in the Melbourne Cup, per punters.com.au.
To say Tiberian came from modest beginnings is an understatement. He is only in this world because a stud master took pity on one of the teaser ponies at a French stud and allowed him to "service" a broodmare.
The teaser pony's usual role is to get the mares "on heat", and ready for the much higher credentialed stallion to come in and do what he does best. But having played wingman for Authorized for much of the season, Tiberian's sire Tiberius Caesar got his chance with Toamasina.
The next year along came Tiberian and from those modest roots, he has became a contender for the world's richest handicap.
Iconic broadcaster Bruce McAvaney said the story behind Tiberian's rise is "ridiculous".
"I think the story that's captured everyone is the French horse Tiberian because he's had a big year - he's won four out of five," McAvaney told Rowey and Bicks on Adelaide's FiveAA radio.
"But his father was actually the teaser stallion, he wasn't the proper one. His job was to tease the mare but what they did in the end ... they said as a Christmas present we'll let him do what he does and he did it once and the result is this horse Tiberian.
"It's a great story and if it wins, they say breed with the best, to the best and hope for the best, so this is ridiculous."
And Tiberian's form heading into the race now looks even better after the horse he beat twice this year, Talismanic, came out and won the Breeders Cup Turf on Sunday.
Kathy O'Hara and Single Gaze have been together through thick and thin and come into the Cup as one of the great stories. Eighteen months ago, as Single Gaze was about to surge into contention for the Australian Oaks and Randwick, the filly clipped heels and fell. O'Hara was helpless and when the horse rolled over her, she suffered a dislocated sternoclavicular joint as well as concussion.
She spent weeks in hospital and three months out of the saddle, while Single Gaze needed 12 months to recover from the fall. But the pair have reunited and ran a game second in the recent Caulfield Cup. It's hard to know who is tougher, O'Hara, who grew up in Goulburn in NSW, or Single Gaze who was from Harden, about 150km up the road. She would be just the second female jockey to win the race, while Single Gaze would be the first mare to prevail in 12 years.
Thomas Hobson was very nearly not in Tuesday's big race. It was only the decision of the stewards to put a line through Kiwi contender Jon Snow which got the Irish-trained galloper in the Cup. But he is now afforded a big chance.
He is owned by flamboyant American banker Rich Ricci, whose love of horses is famous in Europe and America. Thomas Hobson was bought to be a jumper but when he "couldn't jump a twig", Ricci decided a flat career was better for him
"Thomas Hobson's a bit like his owner, a bit mad," he said. "If he sees all that daylight he might go on, and if he does, no chance. But if we can tuck him in and he gets some cover he'll have a big chance because he's well handicapped."
It'll be a hell of a party if either he or Ricci's other horse Max Dynamite win.
The champ's Melbourne Cup story has already been told once before. In 2016, he put a string of career-threatening injuries behind him to win the great race, giving owner Lloyd Williams his fifth victory in the race. In 2017, he could join the greats of the turf as a two-time Melbourne Cup winner.
Almandin secured his spot at the top of the markets with a stunning win at Flemington in September, and while he failed when a short-price favourite at his most recent run in October, he is $9.50 to become the first horse since Makybe Diva to go back-to-back and just the fifth horse to do so in the 156-year history of the race.
When you consider that three years ago all the horse could do was walk the hills of Mt Macedon in order to repair his injured tendon, it would be a remarkable effort.
No horse has won a Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup in the same year since Ethereal in 2001, and no horse has won the Melbourne Cup after contesting the Caulfield Cup since Viewed in 2008. Boom Time is looking to re-write both those pieces of history when he steps out in the world's greatest two-mile race on Tuesday.
Boom Time's Caulfield Cup win was a fairytale for journeyman jockey Cory Parish, who claimed his first Group One success having moved from New Zealand five years ago to try reinvigorate his stalled career. Now he finds himself with his first Cup ride.
As for trainer David Hayes, he took sole ownership of the horse in June after the horse's previous owner hit hard times. He collected a small fortune for the horse's Caulfield Cup success and could be in for an even bigger success should Boom Time cause another upset.