Cameron O’Brien’s 2018 Melbourne Cup Preview

Pro punter and spring specialist analyses the race that stops a nation

Melbourne Cup Spring racing tips

The biggest race of the year has come around again, the 2018 Melbourne Cup, full field of 24 runners. Last year we managed to nail Rekindling as my top rater, hoping for something similar this year, though my top rater this year is not 15/1 like Rekindling was!

The last few winners of the race have been:

Quite a variety there, from the dominance of PROTECTIONIST going 124 to the perhaps not quite so dominant Prince of Penzance going 115!

This year’s map:

Pace should be OK, a few wide who will press on. Plenty of time for them all to find their spots in the long run to the first bend.

My prices:

As you can see, I have YUCATAN on top. He’s $6.00 fixed at the moment and assuming his price doesn’t collapse (unlikely) I will be on. I actually have my top five quite a bit clear and there’s several runners I don’t give much hope to at all, so I may end up on a couple of others too. 
 
Best roughies for mine are definitely FINCHE and YOUNGSTAR, I’ll be on them, and may be on the Caul Cup winner BEST SOLUTION, depends what the markets do form here. CROSS COUNTER a big chance at upsetting the fave, he profiles a lot like last year’s winner REKINDLING. From my own betting point of view for quaddies etc I won’t be looking outside my top 5, think one of them will win.

Here is my runner-by-runner description:

#1 BEST SOLUTION

Amazing ride by Cosgrave in the Caul Cup to win, rated 120. He had gone 120 the start before OS, also, and how much fight he had at Caul makes me think 3200m is OK, strong 1 pacer. Maps perfectly, have given 121.

#2 THE CLIFFSOFMOHER

Went 115 running 3rd in the Caul Cup, and may have been on slightly inferior ground compared to the winner there. Has a 118 earlier in his career over 2400m, that’s his top. I am some ? The 3200m for him just on how he peaked a little at the 2400m last time, though is by Galileo so probably shouldn’t be too concerned.

#3 MAGIC CIRCLE

Racing in career best form for new camp this prep, went 118 winning well LST over 3200m. He is a 7yo though so it’s hard for me to push him on from that at all, but I would not be surprised if he could improve again. Drawn poorly is an issue but has a long time to get in.

#4 CHESTNUT COAT

I only have a few of his Japanese runs in my DB but he peaked at 118 over 3000m in the ones I have, so can stay. Was pretty plain in his CC run, found nothing when the pace went on. Hard to have on that run and hard to give top on that run.

#5 MUNTAHAA

Reasonably lightly raced 6yo who is progressive, got up to 117 winning over 2600m LST and looks like the 3200m will be OK. Drawn a bit wide, will go back and should get in, has an excellent rider in Jim Crowley, happy to give the 117.

#6 SOUND CHECK

Showed nothing to go on with in CC run however was a long way back and the pace was not on so was no hope. And he went wide in what was by then worst ground so can forget. Still, would have liked to see something more in the run home. Went to a best of 116 OS and can stay.

#7 WHO SHOT THEBARMAN

Is a 10yo now, but ran on nicely in the MV cup when the bias was against him, found the line well indicating he is in good form. Won the Syd Cup going 114 in the autumn, has raced well in the MC in the past but I think he’s a bit short of the required mark to win. Could do an honest 114 easily enough.

#8 ACE HIGH

First beaten when the pace went on in the Caul Cup, very plain there. Won the Derby but that doesn’t mean he can stay, am a query 3200m a little bit. Plus, drawn wide and will either sit wide or work to lead.

#9 MARMELO

Has an OS best of 116, over 2800m. Was on pace in last year’s MC and dropped out for 9th beaten 10L, hard to give him more than his best on that and may not get 3200m.

#10 AVILIUS

Out of his grade in the Cox Plate obviously, but still I wanted to see more. Went 113 winning like a champion in Sydney before won again going 113 in the Bart Cummings but that was ridden right out. Then only 109 in the Cox Plate and looked out of gas on the line, to me. Not convinced he has another level in him and not certain he’ll stay 3200m.

#11 YUCATAN

Amazing win in the Herbert Power, raced wide then took off and kicked away, eased right down. Rated 116, I estimate it as an effective 122. If he drew well AND if I was sure he’d see out the trip I’d give him 122, the problem is it’s his first look beyond 2400m and though he’s by Galileo (same as Best Solution) I am not 100% convinced about him at the trip. Plus, he’s drawn 23. That doesn’t matter if you get in but he may not necessarily get in.

Has Australia’s best rider on board though. Can’t give the full 122 though because of these questions. Still, giving him 120 I still have him well clear! If he stays the 3200m and gets an OK run then they probably can’t beat him.

#12 AUVRAY

An 8yo whose best is 112 these days, held that up in Sydney before a poor one on the bog LST. Short of mark required.

#13 FINCHE

Good run in the Geelong Cup and I think he’ll improve markedly off that around here. Did not handle the home bend there and winner was on the better ground but he kept on strongly at his 1 pace and found the line. Is a big horse with a really gangly action who will never be suited around a tight track but should love Flemington and will eat up 3200m. Has one of the world’s best riders on in Zac Purton.

#14 RED CARDINAL

Did nothing when the pace went on in the MV Cup and don’t think he is going well enough to get back to his OS form.

#15 VENGEUR MASQUE

Pretty plain when the pace went on in the CC and his best is nowhere near good enough.

#16 VENTURA STORM

Found the line well after the right run in the right spot going 111 LST. He has a best of 115 at Flemington but over 2000m. Has gone very poorly in both 3200m runs and though he’s racing in good form I think he’s a ? The 3200m and I can’t see a new peak.

#17 A PRINCE OF ARRAN

Right run on Saturday in the Lexus, won nicely and he should stay just fine. Went 116 there, has drawn wide though and unlikely to get the same sort of run. That 116 is his top, I think he can hold but the gate 20 is an issue.

#18 NAKEETA

Dropped out sharply in the MV Cup LST when pace went on. Was very poor. Has a best of 113 OS over 3200m but he’s an 8yo and I do not see a new peak, especially after LST! Ran 5th in this race last year but beaten 6.5L and only rated 105.

#19 SIR CHARLES ROAD

OK in Bendigo Cup but needs a lot more than that and I don’t see big improvement, had his chance there. Should stay the trip.

#20 ZACADA

Did 111 in the Sydney Cup 3200m in the Autumn, is a stayer for sure but in poor form this prep and drawn widest. Will have to go back to last from the gate.

#21 RUNAWAY

Led throughout going 111 in the Geelong Cup but on the best ground on the rail and I cannot give more. Ordinary in this race last year.

#22 YOUNGSTAR

Best run of the race in the Caulfield Cup, for mine, of the beaten brigade. Was well back in a walk and went wide onto inferior ground but still finished better than those around her and best final 200m of the race. Think will love the 3200m and maps a lot better this time.

#23 CROSS COUNTER

Lightly raced 3yo OS (4yo considered here) like last year’s winner Rekindling was. Has a 118 already over 2400m when he broke the track record! That 118 is more like a 116 b/c they factor in age, however he obviously went well. Drawn wide but races on pace, KMac has enough time to get him in, will take catching with no weight!

#24 ROSTROPOVICH

Just OK first up in the Cox Plate when he tried to pour the pressure on. Has a best of 115 over 2400m OS, and has no weight here is a plus, wide gate but can press on. 115 does get him in as a chance here at the weights, but can’t give that full figure b/c of question marks.

Cam loves the Spring racing season and the last 12 months have been no exception, finding Rekindling (2017 Melbourne Cup) and Best Solution (2018 Caulfield Cup) at double-figure prices.

There is still time to cash in on that yourself, with three massive meetings still to come in this year’s Melbourne Cup week.

Don’t get left behind – make this Flemington Carnival a winning one.