The Race that stops a Nation
The race that stops a nation and when I say stop I literally mean stop. It’s a public holiday out in Australia and and all eyes turn towards Flemington. Not unlike to how we here in Britain gather as a family to watch The Grand National, The Melbourne Cup brings all of Australia together to witness the richest handicap in the world. Racing fans were treated to a rather heart-warming story last year as Michelle Payne steered the victorious Prince of Penzance to victory and became the first female jockey to ever win The Melbourne Cup. Prince of Penzance was a huge outsider at odds of 100-1 and that alone just shows the great value on offer to us punters.
It’s a race I am very fond of and ranks up there in my top five races throughout the flat season. We were on Max Dynamite last year and I came away feeling very unlucky as Frankie Dettori did everything he could to make sure the horse didn’t win or at least it seemed that way. Onto tomorrow and what a race it looks on paper. 24 runners are set to start and you could practically give around 20 a chance. It’s a very competitive race however with the recent draw barrier revealed I have narrowed it down to just 6 horses who I feel will run huge races and just two as my primary selections.
My first selection is Big Orange. This horse not only catches the eye drawn in 7 but also pulls on the heartstrings. He’s the horse that really got me into this game and he’s the horse I follow whether I fancy him or not. He carries top weight but he is a huge horse so it really isn’t an issue. He is said to be thriving and the yard seems very confident about his chances including Jamie Spencer who spoke about his chance with confidence on his latest blog. They have been blessed by the draw in stall 7 and it all looks set for a massive run. The scenes if this horse wins will be something special and I’m sure I’m not the only who holds a massive soft spot for him. He travelled over well, last year he lost 30kg travelling over but this time has only lost 13kg and he is a much better horse this year than last. His form is very strong given what Quest For More and Sheikzayedroad have done since and I just hope it all goes to plan on the day. What I am hoping for is a fast start, to be ridden up with or making the pace and to make this a real test. One thing James Macdonald said while over here when asked about The Melbourne Cup was that they don’t go a real gallop and these marathon races turn into a bit of a sprint because nobody wants to go wide and challenge the leader. With Big Orange in the field he is going to take them all out of their comfort zones and he will be tough to pass.
My second selection is Bondi Beach. I fancied this horse last year and he was drastically unlucky from the get go. He was killed by the draw, broke slowly and then ran into a lot of trouble at the back of field running through beaten horses. Three key angles today really point me in this horse’s direction. Firstly the draw, he is drawn in stall 5 and should be able to get a really good tow into this race. Secondly he has been primed for this race all year, Aidan O’Brien doesn’t mess around and if he feels this race was worth targeting for Bondi Beach then I am confident he will run a huge race. Thirdly Ryan Moore is on board. We all know the class this jockey possesses and as a former winner he knows how to steer a horse to victory. Michael Bell’s yard are confident about Big Orange’s chances but the one horse they are worried about is Bondi Beach which says it all really.
The first horse I am worried about is Jameka who put in a strong performance to win the Caulfield Cup. She shaped as if she would stay that day so I can’t see her coming unstuck for the extra distance. It may just be the fact that she finds a few too good on the day, that’s the hope anyway because she is short enough in the betting and is worth opposing. She is another who is drawn well and a top 5 finish looks likely. I just hope it is behind our two selections.
Beautiful Romance is massively underestimated here for Godolphin. Drawn in stall 1 this horse boasts some creditable form and is unexposed over this sort of a trip. She is well enough handicapped in this field carrying only 8-4 and may be worth a few each way pennies given her huge price. Journey has franked the form since, and she comes here fresh as one could be.
Almandin is an improving stayer and had he been drawn lower then I would be massively interested. He has winning form over Protectionist and possesses an impressive turn of foot, the problem is he will surely have to be held up and ridden for luck which isn’t ideal in this sort of a field. If he had of been drawn 1-10 then he would have surely been placed 2-3 back in the field but drawn 17 he is going to have start like a rocket to secure a good spot close enough to the pace. That is a risk I am not going to take with better options elsewhere.
Oceanographer is the final horse that strikes me as a well handicapped over this trip, he just sneaked into this after his win in The Lexus and this trip looks perfect for him now after his most recent start. He’s a horse I have been talking up since I saw him run in The Ebor. I must admit I didn’t expect to see him lining up as one of the favourites for The Melbourne Cup just a few months later but here we are and fair play to Godolphin and the horse. For me at around 20-1 he would be a good each way price but at such short odds given his running style and his need for luck in running I have to bypass him today.
Other horses to note are Hartnell who has a nice draw in stall 12 but didn’t exactly perform well last year in this event. Exospheric who caught the eye in behind Jameka, Grand Marshal for the Waller team and Qewy who gets this trip well.
Get those alarms set, put the kettle on and enjoy a fantastic event.