The race that stops a nation…. or the race that disrupts my sleep. Yep, it’s back – the one and only Melbourne Cup!
Thankfully only once a year. Getting up at 3.30am on a regular basis is probably not recommended. Nonetheless, Tuesday morning I will. All in the name of my favourite race on this beautiful planet!
Not because I’ve ever been particularly successful finding the winner. I have not. But because the build-up. The atmosphere. The enormity of the whole event. It’s special.
One day I gonna be there. To see it with my own eyes. Wide awake and alert. Unlike tomorrow morning. When I watch on with red eyes.
As close as I ever came to the mecca that Flemington is: I drove passed it with a rental car earlier this year on a trip to Australia.
Let’s talk about the actual race: off at 4am Irish time. Here’s hoping my neighbours are prepared for the screams of joy when Rekindling strolls over the line as the winner of the 2017 Melbourne Cup!
You see I get right into it. No dwelling. A full take on every single horse can be found in this excellent guide. I’ve already made up my mind and tell you why.
I’m all in on Rekindling. In past years I always backed multiple horses in the race. Didn’t do me any good. Only the bookies were smiling. This year I pin all my hopes on the Joseph O’Brien trained three year old colt.
But let’s move all the negative factors out of the way first: no doubt there are a handful of good reasons why this lad won’t get anywhere near the money tomorrow morning. Some smarter people than I am are probably right if they say Rekindling had a long season, the Cup is a mere afterthought on the back of an excellent Ledger performance and therefore he’ll find this really tough.
Rekindling is not a particularly imposing individual in terms of physical presence either. He didn’t have a prep run Down Under. And he’s a galloping sort who might not enjoy the start-stop nature of the race.
All fair points. However at 14/1 I am prepared to take a chance on Rekindling, fully aware I will likely go back to sleep at roughly 4.30am after yet another Cup disappointment.
But hold on, let’s hear for all the good reasons why Rekindling will win the 2017 Melbourne Cup:
Weight, Class and Ratings. He’s a classy 116 rated individual, a multiple pattern class winner and was only 2 lengths beaten – and in my view unlucky not to get closer – when 4th in the English St. Leger.
He gets into the Cup with a featherweight thanks to WFO, however on Aussie terms is actually a four year old. He’s got as little as 8st 2lb to carry. He’s third highest ranked in terms of time speed and Racing Post Ratings. Granted, the merit of these ratings is questionable for obvious reasons – it still is another little piece in the puzzle.
The draw. It could hardly be any better. Stall 4 gives every opportunity. Not allot of energy needs to be wasted early on, as long Rekindling breaks alright. Which he should.
Form. An impressive winner of the Curragh Cup, and an equally as impressive 4th in the English St. Leger. A performance I rate particularly highly. That is because he came from a long way back that day, trailing for most parts, and when travelling strongly on the bridle over three furlongs out, he did not get a clear run and lost valuable momentum and ground as a consequence.
Yet he produced the joint fastest sectionals for the last four furlongs and finished in fourth, only 2 lengths behind Capri. That form in its own right is strong, but has already been franked multiple times.
I also don’t subscribe to the fact Rekindling would not be suited to the start-stop nature of the Melbourne Cup. In fact this lad is not a mere galloping sore who travels strongly and grinds things out. No, he has pace and a turn of foot. He showed it quite clearly when producing a superb effort over 10 furlongs in the lowly ran Ballysax Stakes earlier this year.
Now, I do really love the chance of this horse. I understand why people compare him to Bondi Beach in last years Cup. However I feel Rekindling is a different animal altogether.
I strongly believe he’s more for than against him – with one only concern: he’s usually held up. Here’s hoping Rekindling will be utilized to full effect from his positive draw and does not settle farther off the pace than midfield.
I readily admit that it is a huge ask, nonetheless. And the field is incredibly competitive. I do not quite buy into the hype of Marmelo and find it hard to see Almandin doing it all again – however Red Cardinal would be my absolute prime chance in this race – if not for the wide draw.
Now this must not be a problem necessarily given he’ll settle off the pace anyways, regardless of the draw. Still, he’ll be too far back I fear. Max Dynamite, if fully fit – and he looked good during his comeback run – is another one to like a lot. The runner-up of 2015 has even less weight to carry this time round.
Tiberian, despite a wide draw, might be able to cross over as there seems not too much early pace here. If so, he’s a dangerous horse. Hugo Palmer’s Wall Of Fire had the perfect preparation – he’s a major player.
Nonetheless, it’s Rekindling or nothing for me. And what a story it would be. Joseph O’Brien in his first season as a trainer winning the Melbourne Cup – a feast his record breaking father never achieved? Go son, go!
10pts win – Rekindling @ 14/1 William Hill