Melbourne Cup: the good, the bad and the ugly

Form analyst Luke Murrell did the early Cup preview for us and now looks back to see how it measured up.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 01: A general view of the Melbourne Cup during The Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington Racecourse November 1, 2005 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, form analyst and Director of Australian Bloodstock Luke Murrell gave us his form on every runner in the big race: check out the preview here.

Now that it’s been run and won, let’s circle back on the race that stops a nation and see how it went against his expectations.

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The Good

I got it wrong on the winner: I really didn’t think he’d stay at all.  I do think he’s an exceptional horse and he’s at the level, but I just didn’t think he could sustain the speed and handle the pressure.  But he proved me wrong.

Look at the others who finished up there too (Heartbreak City, Qewy, Who Shot Thebarman, Almoonqith), most of them don’t have class or a turn-of-foot.  It’s just the stamina thing, it was that kind of race.  None of them could run a sectional to save their life, but they’re just brilliant staying-type horses.  Unfortunately outside of this, we just don’t have the races for them.

Moreira’s ride on Heartbreak City was A1.  He got it absolutely perfect and they just run amazingly well for him.

Most of the good runs were those back in the field.  Those who went hard early then threw the anchors out around the back to try to get a breather, but in that have robbed their horses of momentum.  Those who just went along at the start were able to sustain that same momentum and then come in the second wave, and they’re largely the ones who finished up front.

Hartnell surprised me. He didn’t run a great sectional, but he just kept whacking away.  Really his goose was cooked with the genuine tempo, because he’s proven over his whole career he can’t sprint off a tempo, but he stuck on really well.

But by far, the credit goes to Almandin.  Looking in hindsight, he was lightly raced and probably the real progressive horse in the field.

The Bad

Berry eventually got Curren Mirotic into a good spot, but his race was cooked at the first pass of the winning post after they went forward.

I thought the most disappointing run of the race was Bondi Beach.  I thought he was one horse that had a lot of stamina in him and given the race shape I thought he would have been a hell of a lot closer.

The Ugly

The tactics by Frankie Dettori (Wicklow Brave)… are they kidding?  He’s regarded as a champion rider, could you imagine Bowman, McDonald or Avdulla going to another country and riding like that?  Yet this supposed champion comes out for this and rides like a kid who’s never sat on a horse.  For a Group 1 jockey, it was embarrassing.   There was just no helping the horse, it’s a huge contrast to what Moreira was able to do.

That horse has never led a race from the jump in his life.  If you watch the race, he was swishing his tail, his ears weren’t positioned well, he was clearly distressed to be there and being forced.  It’s amazing they tried to do that from that barrier.

The only thing I can think is from Europe they’re just too used to six or eight horse fields, and they just don’t get it tactically.  They’ve got 1200m straights and can afford to make mistakes.