Preview: Melbourne Cup

Jockeys Joe O'Brien

Four hours…. then it’s Santa knocking on the door! Well, kind of… at least if you’re a racing fan, like I am. I love the Melbourne Cup to bits, my favourite race of the year. The build-up to the big race is sensational, the atmosphere surrounding a packed Flemington racetrack leaving goosebumps on my neck year after year… quite simply: it’s the race that stops a nation! One day I’ll be there and take it in all in flesh.

Not this year though, that’s for sure. But maybe backing the winner tonight could be a stepping stone to finance the flights for 2016? Let’s wait and see. I never backed the winner, although had a couple of each-way selections placed in the last number of years….

It looks a wide open race in my mind. Nonetheless you see some mad short prices in the betting market. That says I can’t have the Japanese runner Fame Game at all. He may have a good draw and some big form, but how does this translate into the race the Melbourne Cup is? 4/1 or shorter seems a mad price in my mind.

Trip To Paris is second favourite, currently a 7/1 chance. He has not the kindest of draws but it could have been worse. He impressed me in the Caulfield Cup and I really like him. He’s a tough, genuine stayer. But hardly value at his current price. Unfortunately.

I really don’t understand why a National Hunt horse is a short 7/1 third favourite to land the Melbourne Cup. Sorry. Willie Mullins is a great trainer and Max Dynamite an excellent horse under both codes, he has strong form in the book but had an absolute dream run in the Lonsdale Cup – this is a completely different ball game, in my mind. I can’t see it happening.

Last years Victoria Derby winner Prefermant is hot on the machines. I don’t wanna pretend to know him well. Could be anything potentially, depending on whether he stays the trip. Class is there it seems, good draw too. But at 10/1? Not for me.

I absolutely loved the way Almoonqith won the Geelong Cup recently. But that was only a Group 3 and much more is required here. He might be found out for class. Same could apply to The United States. Formerly a Group 3 winner in Ireland, he landed the Moonee Valley Gold Cup. Others are better treated.

Criterion has been in top form lately but the trip should find him out off a big weight. Multiple German Group 1 winner Our Ivanhowe had a great preparation to the big race since arriving in Australia. A wide draw and doubts over this stamina let me shy away from him.

Now, there is one horse that stands out of the crowd in my mind: Bondi Beach. When this lightly raced stayer won a Group 3 at the Curragh earlier this year, a day I was there and saw him in flash battling hard with stable mate Order Of St. George who subsequently landed the Irish St Leger in brilliant style, I thought this lad is the real deal if is about a staying prospect.

He subsequently lost two big races in the stewards room, most importantly the English St Leger after appeal weeks after the actual race. That doesn’t take much away from the fact he is a proper Group 1 stayer, proven in fact. Now he has to take on older horses but you can argue that he weight he receives doesn’t stand in the right context to his class and what he should actually carry.

There aren’t too many proper Group 1 horses in this race, and less than a handful are Group 1 stayers anyway. Bondi Beach is. At 16’s he looks a massive price. Granted he gets a run. The draw isn’t ideal and he’ll need luck. But favoring that into the price I still don’t get my head around this price tag.

Bondi Beach @ 16/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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