Melbourne Cup Preview – Tuesday 6th November
Last updated: October 31, 2018 by Leon Marshal
The Melbourne Cup takes place at Flemington on Tuesday with a strong European entry chasing $7.3million in prize money. The Cup is long established as the most prestigious race in Australia and one of the most keenly contested trophies in the world of horseracing.
No English-trained horse has ever won the Melbourne Cup, although several have gone very close. Makybe Diva won the race for three consecutive seasons between 2003 and 2005. Bart Cummings trained a remarkable 12 winners while owner Lloyd Williams has won it a record six times. He will be seeking a hat-trick in the Cup following the success of Almandin (2016) and Rekindling (2017). Other notable winners include Vintage Crop (1993), Media Puzzle (2002), Dunaden (2011) and Protectionist (2014).
Aidan O’Brien seeks first Melbourne Cup win
Aidan O’Brien was denied a first Melbourne Cup victory last year by his son when Rekindling held off Johannes Vermeer. He returns this year with Yucatan, racing in the Lloyd Williams colours. The son of Galileo was a useful colt at two but his three-year-old campaign was cut short by injury.
Yucatan returned to winning ways at the Curragh in July and advertised his Cup claims by taking the Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield. He was travelling so easily that he was sent to the front with three furlongs to travel. He stretched five lengths clear before being eased right down in the closing stages. The colt has gone up 5lbs but won with twice that amount in hand. The Herbert Power was over a mile and a half and he has an extra half a mile to cover on Tuesday.
There are no stamina concerns for Chester Cup winner Magic Circle, owned by Dr Marwan Koukash and trained by Ian Williams. He stepped up to Group 3 company to win the Henry II Stakes at Sandown in May but has not raced since. His Chester victory came after a lengthy absence so fitness is unlikely to be an issue.
Godolphin continues their quest for Melbourne Cup glory with Best Solution, a narrow winner of the Caulfield Cup. The four-year-old overcame a wide draw to repel the late challenge of Homesman by a short-head. As with Yucatan, his ability to stay two miles must be taken on trust. O’Brien also runs The Cliffsofmoher, beaten a length and three-quarters by Best Solution at Caulfield. He finished runner-up in the Epsom Derby last year but has won just once in thirteen subsequent races.
Godolphin also has a useful second string with Cross Counter, a three-year-old gelding by Teofilo. He won the Group 3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood before being beaten a short-head by Old Persian at York. He was not eligible for St Leger but shapes as though the step up in distance will suit him.
Muntahaa represents Gosden stable
John Gosden has enjoyed another very successful season and Muntahaa is his representative here. The five-year-old grey won the Ebor Handicap at York in August, the richest handicap on the flat in Europe. He had previously finished behind Best Solution at Newmarket but stays well and goes well on a faster surface.
Rostropovich faced an impossible task in the Cox Plate when fifth to Winx. He was always likely to struggle against Australia’s superstar mare but two miles could be stretching his stamina. Marmelo started joint-favourite for the Cup last year but faded to finish ninth. Hughie Morrison’s five-year-old has been racing consistently since, most recently finishing second to Holdthasigreen at Deauville in August.
Few would deny Red Verdon victory here, running in the colours made famous by three-time Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux. Ed Dunlop’s five-year-old did not enjoy a clear run in the Caulfield Cup but has been beaten on all three previous starts at this distance.
James Cummings saddles Avilius for Godolphin, a narrow winner of the Bart Cummings before finishing fourth in the Cox Plate. He was formerly trained by Andre Fabre in France and has won four of his five races in Australia. Jaameh was only a short-head behind Avilius in the Bart Cummings but is not certain to make the final field of 24.
Chris Waller’s Youngstar was only seventh at Caulfield but had finished a length second to Winx in the Turnbull Stakes. She was well off the pace last time but Kerrin McEvoy was possibly nursing her to get the trip. The daughter of High Chaparral goes up a further half a mile here.
Melbourne Cup Betting Tips
Yucatan @5-1 Black Type
Red Verdon @33-1
Each-way ¼ odds, 1,2,3,4
The Melbourne Cup is due off at 4.00 on Tuesday 6th November and will be televised live on AtTheRaces.