The biggest race of the year has come around again, the 2017 Melbourne Cup, and I think this years edition is quite even, however I am quite keen on one, as you’ll see below.
Pace should be OK given CISMONTANE is there, and THOMAS HOBSON may press on from the wide gate. Some of the other ones drawn wide are going to have to go back further to get in, like TIBERIAN and RED CARDINAL, US ARMY RANGER and NAKEETA.
As you can see, I have the OS runner REKINDLING on top. Currently at $12 to $13 fixed most places I think he is great value. He has progressed in his ratings every start this prep and is up to 117, with potentially more in the tank. He’ll stay the 3200m and he’ll get the ideal run, and he has no weight. Really solid chance and a big overlay, in my opinion. He’ll definitely be my main play in the race, and nearly qualifies as a “key bet” for me, but not quite. Still, I will be on, and will potentially get on some others like JOHANNES VERMEER and HUMIDOR who are both small overlays at the moment. A lot of prices will change between now and race time though, so others may appear, but one thing is certain, I will be on REKINDLING.
Full webinar replay below as well as a runner-by-runner preview.
Runner by runner
#1 HARTNELL – Not sure how Hartnell is going. He came back well, going 117 first up but has been disappointing since, 114-112-104. James Cummings says he is looking like he wants the 3200m, take that on board but I don’t think he got the 3200m last year, and I think he’s a 2000m horse. He didn’t get it in the Sydney cup either, and I am happy to take him on at the trip. Rating: 116
#2 ALMANDIN – Last years winner going into thie 4th up (was 6th up last prep). Rated 120 winning last year, came back well going 113-118 (though the 118 had the heavens open for him) then was disappointing in the Bart Cummings. However, horses who run well in MC’s very often repeat that, I have to mark him up close to top. Rating: 119.5
#3 HUMIDOR – The enigmatic HUMIDOR… at his best he is enormous. He flew in the Makybe Diva, 1600m Flemington, rating 121 four runs back, then nearly ran down WINX in the Cox Plate, rating 122. His query is if he gets 3200m. If he repeats 122 he’ll almost certainly win the race. As I said with ALMANDIN, he did 120 last year, so 122 is a winning mark, but will he do it at the trip? And, will good HUMIDOR turn up, or the bad version who lays in and hangs? Rating: 120
#4 TIBERIAN – Improving all the time OS so it’s possible we haven’t seen his top yet, got to 116 (peak so far) LST but could be more yet. Drawn terribly and I map him wide is a problem, overseas rider who had his first look at Flemington on Derby day, first Cup ride, those aren’t positives. Rating: 116
#5 MARMELO – Very nice MC trial in the Caulfield Cup, where he got to the middle of the track and ran on well against the bias. That was a 112, has a 116 best OS, however he is quite lightly raced and I am fairly sure he has more than 116 in him. In our winter this year he raced four times, going 115-113-114-116 and with his unsuited 112 he has a solid base for something like 118 to 120. Gate 16 not ideal but will love the 3200m and I want to give him a new peak figure here. Rating: 119
#6 RED CARDINAL – Another lightly raced runner who we likely have not seen the top of yet, he has a peak of 115 and has also gone 114, the 115 was over 3200m. May have a higher figure in him, does have gate 24 but has K.McEvoy on board – he won from gate 24 on Brew many moons ago!! Maybe enough ability to go as high as 119 but there are question marks. Rating: 117
#7 JOHANNES VERMEER – Impressed first up in the Caulfield stakes when he ran on powerfully against a moderate tempo, clearly the best closer there, rating 116. Then a little unlucky in the caul cup, rated 113. Think he’ll get 3200m and given his 116 was unsuited I think he has potentially around a 119 in him, was very solid around 113-115 in the UK, no probs projecting him up to 118 to 120 max off those. Rating: 119
#8 BONDI BEACH – BONDI BEACH has tried and failed here twice, his best OS rating is 117 but he’s in poor form this time around, now based in Aus but doesn’t seem to be going well enough to give near his top. Rating: 113
#9 MAX DYNAMITE – Ran 2nd in this race 2 years ago behind Prince of Penzance, but that was a low rating year. He went 115, and has an OS peak of 116, however as an 8yo I can’t really give more than that. Zac Purton in the saddle, he’s riding very well in HK at the moment, drawn well, however MAX DYNAMITE has been out of form in recent times, also. Rating: 115
#10 VENTURA STORM – Ran 2nd in this race 2 years ago behind Prince of Penzance, but that was a low rating year. He went 115, and has an OS peak of 116, however as an 8yo I can’t really give more than that. Zac Purton in the saddle, he’s riding very well in HK at the moment, drawn well, however MAX DYNAMITE has been out of form in recent times, also. Rating: 115
#11 WHO SHOT THE BARMAN – SCRATCHED
#12 WICKLOW BRAVE – Given a chance in this race last year off the back of a 117 peak the start before, but did nothing. Now a 9yo and hasn’t gotten near the 117 this prep, 114 being best. Not much went right in the Caul Cup, can forgive that but I can’t mark him up near the 117. Rating: 113.5
#13 BIG DUKE – BIG DUKE has a best of 116, which he did on a heavy 10 at Rosehill in the Autumn, but has many 114’s also. You could argue he may have more in him than 116, more like 119, when everything was to suit. However, he may prefer slightly softer ground (though has won on dry a few times). He was unlucky in the MV cup and can forget that run a bit, but still not 100% convinced he can do more than his 116, and he’ll need to in order to win. Trainer Darren Weir is very good though, he’s the kind of man to get a new peak out of BIG DUKE. Query runner! Rating: 116
#14 US ARMY RANGER – Ex 116 horse overseas early in his career but his form this prep has been poor, has really tapered off. Perhaps the Australian air will pep him up, however it’s hard to project a new level on his current form. Barrier 22 no spoil either, maps wide Rating: 114
#15 BOOM TIME – BOOM TIME! Like this horse, especially as I was on him in the Caulfield Cup! Rated 115 there which he also did last prep at Caul 2400m, and he had every favour in so doing. I cannot see any more than 115 though and he’s a query at the 3200m also, not this time boy. Rating: 113
#16 GALLANTE – Ex 112 horse, did that winning the 2016 Sydney Cup, then did it first up in the Naturalism last spring too, over 2000m. When he did that, I thought he had a 117 coming that prep, but he went off the boil, had injury problems. So, theoretically he could have a 117 in him, but it’s a bit of a stretch, he’s had a couple of quiet runs this prep and no doubt set for this, but 117 would be immensely forgiving! Rating: 114
#17 LIBRAN – 7yo rated 111 LST running 2nd to WSTB in the MV Cup, had his chance there. 111 is his equal top, and in fact he’s been very solid around 109-111 for quite a while now, but can he do more than that? That’s a big of a stretch though. Ran 2nd in the 3200m Syd Cup 2016, gets the trip, and is very honest. Rating: 112.5
#18 NAKEETA – 7yo for Iain Jardine, who is flying as a trainer overseas, this guy did 111 LST winning over 2600m but that is a career peak. He’ll need more, can’t say he won’t do it but I can’t push him too far up, barr 19 has him potentially mapping wide, too. Rating: 112
#19 SINGLE GAZE – Tough effort at Caul in the Cup LST, rated 113 but was on the most favourable ground. First look at 3200m, not convinced she can do it, but will get a good run on pace. I don’t think she’s got more than the 113 in her, either. Rating: 112
#20 WALL OF FIRE – Good run in the Herbert Power, came from last and closed solidly, rating 114. That was equal to his best OS run, he gets 3200m and may have more improvement in him yet, happy to push him up out to the 3200m. Rating: 117
#21 THOMAS HOBSON – Very tough to give a mark too. Most of his racing OS has been over the jumps, figures don’t really mean much there. Has rated 115 winning on the flat over 4000m, LST rated 113 running 2nd over 3400m. Is an 8yo, and drawn poorly, Moreira to ride but he’s been slaughtering a few in Aus lately! Tough to mark, this one. Rating: 114
#22 REKINDLING – Looks the best prospect of the OS runners for me. Only a 4yo and has progressed nicely up to 117 a couple of months back over 2800m, he looks as though he’ll love the 3200m and I can’t say we’ve seen his top yet, given how lightly raced he is and given he keeps improving. Gets a great run from the gate and has no weight! Rating: 118
#23 AMELIES STAR – Nice mare who won the Bart Cummings in very impressive style, rating 113 that day. Some query the 3200m but she did find the line well that day. LST she worked a bit in the Caul Cup but was still a touch disappointing. Does she have more than 113 in her? Perhaps, but it’s a stretch to push her too high, everything went right for her in the Bart Cummings, I think there’s a big chance that’s her top. Having said that, it’s Weir, he has a knack of this kind of thing! If I were to project she could have a base for 116/7, absolute generosity there though. Rating: 114
#24 CISMONTANE – Fought on very well in the Lexus on Derby day but that wasn’t a high rating race, he did 109 there, absolute top projected would be 112, looks short of the mark. Rating: 110