Luke Murrell is a regular spring contributor as he always has some very strong opinions on overseas horses and how they will fare in our big spring races. Many people consider him a top notch form analyst and it’s with good reason: he studied under Rob Waterhouse and spends a lot of time and money buying imports for our big races via Australian Bloodstock.
On this episode, Luke is bringing his raw opinions to give us some insights into the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups and the Cox Plate. He tells us where he believes the real value is.
Punting Insights You’ll Find
- Why he is especially interested in German horses.
- Luke’s suggested bets for the Caulfield Cup (see below for the update).
- Why the media seems to over-hype certain horses.
- Why Atlantic Jewel is at ridiculously short odds for the Cox Plate.
- A horse he believes is close to unbeatable in the Melbourne Cup.
2. Mr Moet
3. Jet Away
4. Hawkspur/Mr Moriarty
Luke’s Closing Tip:
” I live or die by my own stuff that I do, but there’s probably not a better judge than Vince (Accardi). “
Betting 360 Episode 23: Cups and Cox Plate Previews with Luke Murrell
David: Hi this is David Duffield, and welcome to another episode of the Betting 360 podcast. My special guest today is Luke Murrell from Australian Bloodstock. And we like to have a chat with him each spring about the big cups and the Cox Plate, because in his role with Australian Bloodstock he spends a lot of time looking at the overseas horses, and looking to buy some of those overseas horses, and aim them at the big races. So he has a fair bit of knowledge of those, and manages to weigh those up against the local form as well. And he’s very honest in his opinions, and we really like that, we want to find out where he thinks the value is, and where he thinks there might be a false favourite. So let’s have a chat with Luke.
David: Thanks for joining us today Luke.
Luke: Yep, no problem at all.
David: Good to have you on board. And I got in touch last week to tee up a chat about the cups and the Cox Plate, but that was before the winner Salon Soldier on the weekend. It must be hard not to get a little bit excited, when you see an import show a turn of foot like that?
Luke: Yeah you always had that over in Germany. So, you know you’d like to see them, don’t get too excited until they can do it here. But I think you’ve sort of got to take into account, is a lot of the German horses are a little bit raw, but a lot of pitfalls there too. I know a few of the boys from different trainers have bought horses that haven’t measured up. So it is fairly exciting, albeit a little bit more exposed then say a horse like Lucas Cranach was. So yeah, he’s a very nice horse though.
David: Yeah what plans do you have for him?
Luke: Look I’ve got a fair opinion of him. I think he can measure up to a group one handicap for sure, and whether he’s a weight for age horse don’t know. Some of his form from overseas was just terrific, and with … Mackinnon, if that’s too hard, a couple of days later on there’s a listed race, and then we might end up in a zipping classic or something like that, just to get behind him, so we know where to go to in the Autumn.
David: Fair enough. And then that continues, the success you’ve had with the German gallopers. I think last time we spoke, you mentioned that there was a little bit of an edge that you find, because there times aren’t necessarily accurate, and there’s a bit of importance in certain areas of the form that you place that maybe others don’t. What where you think you’ve gone right in a couple of instances, and you’ve mentioned that other people haven’t enjoyed the same success, what do you think that boils down to?
Luke: I think in Europe greatly, Europe doesn’t take into account sectional times, I think it’s a bit miss. And look I could speak to some French and German people, and they find it amazing that I think there’s just such a big difference of one, or one and a half seconds in a time. They tend to think that’s irrelevant.
So why ever they think that, that sort of can perhaps helps me identify different things, and as you know one and a half seconds out in time is a massive thing. And I know there’s some French races and even Germans, they just don’t even record final times. So I’m pretty lucky I’ve got a guy over there that sends me all the raw tapes, and we tape them here, and we come up with our own times. And as I think Vince will attest to it’s not just Germany where their times are wrong, but you know those types of things give me a massive advantage.
And there’s not a lot of footage on German horses, but I’m lucky enough I get to see every single run, and helps to find those horses perhaps before they become exposed. And you know like I was really proud I bought that mare Salamena, who won the German Oaks, and we found her out of a maiden and no one had ever heard of her. So it is a big advantage. Look obviously the UK, and the Irish and the French is a little bit more exposed, but yeah look I like the German horses, but as you say with Dunaden last year there’s plenty of good horses it doesn’t matter where…
David: Fair enough. And what’s the latest with Salamena?
Luke: We were lucky enough to sell her after she won the German Oaks. And bought by Schneider’s, and they gave her one run, and rode her upside-down, and then sent her off to studs so. But I know Mr Schneider, he’s really keen on buying all these group one fillies and mares off the track. I think he bought Sudden Speed, and with a bit of luck Charne Rose can upset him in the mire, and he can buy her again as well.
David: Yeah he had quite a weekend. But yeah got you on to talk mainly about the cups and the Cox Plate. So who do you like? I’ll just let people know we are recording early in the week, but who do you like at this stage for the Caulfield Cup?
Luke: Look I know the media sort of come out and said Hawkspur’s over the line, and I probably couldn’t disagree a great deal. To me there’s a few holes in his form, but I think the biggest thing is I’m not sure where the speed comes from in this cup. I’m not sure if Gai’s running both of hers, and horses like Quintessential. But I think it could end up very much like last year’s Melbourne Cup run, and as a result you want to be on horses hard up there on the speed, and drawn over near the fence.
Because like Hawkspur’s the favourite, and his information is all his runs this prep, they’ve been very slowly run. And he’s just unleashed this monster turn of foot which is, you know he has been the flashing light in every single one of his runs. But if he draws wide, and goes back especially around Caulfield, I’m not so sure. You know I don’t think he’s got the ability of a Dunaden or anything. So yeah, look I think you’ll see a Caulfield Cup where you’ll see a first four that’ll play … I just think it’s a race full of horses that are perhaps a little bit under the radar, that maybe won’t get found. Because there’s a couple there in the market I just can’t believe they’re anywhere near, so yeah very keen to see the barrier draw I suppose.
David: You mentioned there’s a couple that you can’t believe are hard in the market. The standard disclaim, because normally we run your written or audio interviews, and a few connections or other people seem to take offence. Good luck with your…
Luke: I don’t mean to be offensive at all, it’s just my opinion. You’ve got to be, I think you’ve got to be really harsh with your opinion. And look I’ll be frank, Dandino as a 3 and 4 year old was an absolute weapon, he was one of the most explosive horses you’d ever wished to have seen. But the media sort of got on the band wagon of his last win in America. Well look to be honest I think Santergatt’s would’ve won that race, and they were just absolute pedestrians that he beat.
There wasn’t a group winner I don’t think in the race, they were horses that were placing in minor stakes level group three’s, and he didn’t donkey length them. There was nothing flash about the time, he didn’t run a sectional, and his first up run was a 4 horse race. And the run everyone’s talking about, well he was off the bit and looked like he was going to run last, and I think the fact they didn’t go overly hard he was able to plug on. And for me Dandino’s a really good horse on a rock hard track, anything worse and he starts to loose lengths. And I like him much better ridden cold as well, but hasn’t been seen to be the method with him, with the new trainer and what not.
But look I couldn’t really see him figuring on what he’s done in the last sort of 12 months, and you know I think history sort of says you’ve got to be a horse in form, and going well with the right run. But I think we’ll see a race run like where Sudden Speed won her cup that year, I don’t think she was the best horse in the race, but she just got the right race shape, she got the right draw, everything just planned out perfectly. And I think we’re going to be looking for horses like that this year, as opposed to when Dunaden won he was just clearly the best horse. It wasn’t really how he won, where he was drawn, he was just the better horse.
David: So you’ve put a line through Dandino, which other one’s that are in the market that you’re not a big fan of?
Luke: I question Royal Descent. Love to own her and everything, but I think for her to be effective she’s going to want a wet track. I thought she was quite disappointing the other day, and she’s really sprinted home. You know everyone’s getting excited because she sprinted home once at Warwick Farm, where she traditionally can rattle off a decent time coming home. So I think she’s a real suspect type. You know her and Dandino are taking up a large portion of the market, but perhaps doesn’t justify it at this stage, in what they’ve done. Dandino I’m not sure if he’s staying here, but if they work him out and ride him quiet, and get him back to his 3 or 4 year old form, well he’s the one you want. But he’s a long long way off that. Manighar, I got news today that he’ll be the top plate I don’t think he’s going anywhere near what he was. What else is there up there near the market on…
David: In the market Silent Achiever, Jet Away, Dear Demi.
Luke: Jet Away if it was 2000, you couldn’t have enough on Jet Away. He’s a cape cross, and they traditionally like a bit of give in the ground. But he’s been tried once at 2400, on a slow and got lapped. But I thought his run the other day was just outstanding, after his well sort of publicised, he’s had a few issues with mucus and that. I thought he actually had a better record at 2400 then what he has, and I reckon he’ll loom as the leader, and everyone will call him the winner at some stage. But I just question him over the last sort of 200, I think he’d really be gasping for breath. But there’s sort of not an obvious one that you’re going to say, look if Hawkspur drew poorly, he has a change of gate speed this prep to, say he’s going to be on speed like he was in Queensland, you could nearly write him off if he has to go back, because I don’t see any tempo, on what’s a likely field anyway. Yeah it’s sort of, I don’t know where it leaves you.
You know Jet Away was good, I’d love to be on him, and still probably going to back him, but you’re going to be worried about the last bit. Silent Achiever, if you look at her form every 2400 metre run she’s run in her life they’ve ridden her very quiet. I think that’s because they probably suspect that she doesn’t quite get it either. But her BMW run puts her in the top 3 or 4 here, but again if she’s back with Hawkspur and the likes, even 12 or 10 lengths, I’m not sure she’s going that well to be able to round them up off her no tempo. The ones I thought were possible is sort of, there’s not many left you know. Ethiopia’s a placed chance, I think he’s going better than most people give him credit for, but I probably couldn’t see him winning. Mourayan’s not good enough off that last run, Seville’s not going, Super Cool they said what is Kavanagh going there or he’s not?
David: They’re making the decision tomorrow I believe.
Luke: Yeah Okay.
David: Tomorrow being Tuesday, like I said we’re recording early so. What I’ll do, I’ll get your one, two, three, and put it in the newsletter in the blog post. Because pre barrier draw, you’re a little bit blinded by not knowing the likely speed map at this stage.
Luke: Yeah well look I thought the only possible winning chances were Super Cool. If they ride him correctly, and I think he needs to be an absolute fly balling, and going suicide tempo like they did Australia Cup. All his other runs I think are a bit standard, I think my horse has a massive chance, I think everyone’s forgotten about him. His last two thirds of his race two starts ago was better than Happy Trails, Constant Loom was a length better, and Green Moon was half a length better, and they’d be hard in the market here.
David: That’s Waldpark you’re talking about?
Luke: That’s Waldpark yeah. He’s had six goes at 2200 or more, 2 wins, 3 seconds, and a fourth. And 5 of the 6 have all been at group one level. And his last 2400 metre run was, when you watch the tape you’d swear he beat Novellist. So, I think he’ll run top 5 no problem, I think he’s going well enough to do that. But the only other chances are Jet Away, Silent Achiever, and Hawkspur. So I think it’s quite a thin race, and I think you’ll see a lot of horses that you thought weren’t going as good really pop up in this one.
David: kay. So we’ll move onto the Melbourne Cup, and you know similar market in that Hawkspur is right up the top. But then you’ve also got Fiorente, and Puissance De Lune, Mount Athos. What are your thoughts on, again it’s a fair way off, but from a betting perspective who do you like, who don’t you like at this stage?
Luke: I think a lot of the Europeans that are coming here that aren’t Australian owned at this stage, there’s probably only 1 or 2 chances that could win the race. You know some of these, even in the Caulfield Cup, I think there’s a horse called Forgotten Voice or something, the horses last start where it won, the trainer wants to retire the horse. You know I think that gives you a pretty good indication that it’s not going as good as it should be here. Brown Panther I think will get lapped in the Melbourne Cup.
There’s a horse from France called Verema, I think if people like to crunch and to be on the likely winner I think it’s probably a clear, looks a clear horse to beat at this stage. I think it was $17 or $19 dollars. He just, the only provisor she’s a filly, and you’ve got to travel them around the world. But if she gets here, even travels 75% right, I think she just wins. She’s just got the most relaxed action, nothing seems to bother her, heavy tracks or fast tracks. She’s rattled off some unbelievable sectionals, and I think she, I have her now at $5 dollars, I think she’s nearly over the line as long as she travels well.
The Irish horse has got a lot of publicity, I think he’s okay but I think that the standard that he’s raced to date everyone will say oh he’ll beat Red Cadeaux. Well Red Cadeaux probably hasn’t gone well for you know 6 or 12 months. There’s probably not a lot of substance to that horse, I know D.W was obviously quoted as saying he didn’t think she was anywhere near ready, and would’ve preferred to come next year. Mr Moet’s a horse that I think could do something, I just don’t think he’s going to get the right race in the Caulfield Cup. In the Melbourne Cup he can rattle off a sprinter like sectionals, so he’s got to be a chance. But again I couldn’t have the Mourayan horse, maybe next year, and she’s a filly but the Verema, I think Gay Port Tray Blur it’s got some really really strong form.
And I think it’s got 51 in the Melbourne Cup if I’m right. And if he got here sound and travelled well, it’d be a top 4 chance, but as far as some of your favourites there, probably looking to pick up a bit of money the bookmakers, because I couldn’t see them finishing anywhere near it. Puissance De Lune’s a million to one … and it’s clearly not going good enough, with Boss wanting to get off and ride The Irish horse. So yeah I think the winner if it doesn’t come outside of Verema, and Tray Blue is already here. I suppose Caulfield Cup will tell you a little bit, but then again I just don’t think it’ll be, last year’s Melbourne Cup was run in very unusual slow tempo, and I can’t see that happening 2 years in a row.
They’ll be a lot of chances in this year’s cup, and I think it’ll be run a lot more truly, and for that reason I think you’ve got to, even though he’s flying, I think you’ve got to risk Fiorente. We know he can sprint off a no tempo, but the 3200 for him, I’d question him on a really genuine normal Melbourne Cup type run. Yeah so that’s probably it for the Melbourne Cup, and look personally I think if it’s a Dundeel’s 80 or 90% right, well it’ll just win the Cox Plate by as far as it wants.
David: Yeah I’d like to talk to you about the Cox Plate. I know probably August, September last year, you couldn’t believe the odds about Atlantic Jewel a fair way out in the Cox Plate, and yeah she did go amiss. We’re less than a fortnight away right now, but she’s close to sixth to fourth favourite. Doesn’t sound like you think she deserves to be that quote?
Luke: No I don’t. And look I’d be a lot more excited if we had some natural leaders in the Cox Plate. If you go through the top 10 or so in betting, I can’t really find one that wants to roll. You know if you could get a regal roller type horse, that can just go along at an even tempo. Even a Spacecraft, it didn’t go along on the weekend, I think something’s happened to him there. But I think she’s a million to one and drifting of winning the race, if it was run at a typical Cox Plate, where they take off a thousand out. I haven’t you know, yeah she was impressive to the eye on the weekend, but everything that I do says that she’s a massive massive risk. And I’ll be laying her for the place if the race looks like there’s an even tempo in the race, because she’s going to come around at $1.10.
David: And so is that in everything you do?
Luke: Yeah, everything that I do just says she’s a massive distance out and really not much chance. As long as they run at that genuine tempo.
David: I was about to say, and you work pretty closely with Vince’s data or similar stuff, and obviously the videos as well. Is it a combination of both that makes you think she won’t get a strong high pressured 2000 metres?
Luke: Yeah Vince’s stuff is excellent, I live or die by my own stuff that I do. And I use Vince’s as a, you know there’s probably not a better judge then Vince. So I know he’s still got a question mark on her, but she just, unfortunately all the weight for age races this year have been a real dawdle, on the sprint home in the last 400. And look she’s just outstanding when she gets that type of event to happen, and again they went really slow on the weekend, and all we saw was that she could sprint 400 metres. Well if Dundeel’s got anywhere near his Autumn form, or even his form prior to that, he will just blow her away and she won’t get close to him. And for that reason you know I think Fiorente, if he has to take off 600 or 800 he’s got a better turn of foot. And she’s going to go round at $1.10 or $1.15 a play, and you could make some serious money laying her there to place, because she’s got so much public support.
David: Is it any similarities to a More Joyous then? or maybe not quite as short, but got gassed you know a couple of hundred out.
Luke: Yeah well I’d back More Joyous over her at 2000 so. Yeah look if you just get that standard, it’s an even run Cox Plate I think she’s in with a fair bit of trouble. But I can’t believe anyone would want to back her now, even at race day at $2.00 dollars or, you’d want a lot longer than that if you’re serious with your money you know, if you respect it. So Dundeel obviously is not ideal, but he’s a, I reckon he could of run top five in the Arc. He’s a world class horse, and they’ve just got to get him there pretty fit and he’ll be right I think.
David: Just to finish up then, what track condition do you think would suit, or I mean it sounds like you don’t like her in the race anyway, but what would be the most advantageous track for Atlantic Jewel? is it one with a little bit of give or, because just as we’re talking now the rains coming down. But you know if it’s a slow track again, do you think she’s even more of a risk?
Luke: Yeah I suppose. Like in theory if the grounds heavier it means you sort of, you’ve got to run harder to get through it. And I think that’s where her issue is her stamina. Unfortunately I just can’t seem to find anything that wants to really lead in that race. Like we haven’t got a … or one of those tough horses that can go along and go at even tempo, and try and hang on. And it might just end up that she gets, she’s very lucky and she gets the perfect year to try and, that she can win the Cox Plate. But I think 90 times out of 100 she won’t get that type of race shape, where she will be a realistic chance. On everything that she’s done. Even when she won at 2000 against the three year old fillies and all that jazz. Look there’s no doubt it’s sort of 14 and a mile, she’s probably top 3 or 4 in the world. But it’s a different kettle of fish when you get to sort of, when you’re taken off and asking to sprint from 1000 out or 1800 out. She’s never done it, and it’s a very short price to take to say that she will do it.
David: Excellent. Alright interesting stuff, and thought provoking, and opinionated, which is what we want. There’s no point coming on here and telling me like the fave from the second fave and the third fave. So really appreciate your honesty, and all the best for your horses for the spring, and all the best for everyone who listened in, and for your recommendations.
Luke: Yeah beautiful, not a problem.
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