1. CROSS COUNTER (GB)- 57.5kg – Barrier 5 – William Buick
The Melbourne Cup winner of 2018, Cross Counter hasn’t won a race in his last three appearances. Running credible figures, Cross Counter has been running consistent Timeform Ratings below what he ran in the 2018 Melbourne Cup.
This stable know exactly what they need to do to get this horse ready for a big race and nothing I’ve seen this preparation would make me discount his ability to win back to back Melbourne Cups.
Looks a live chance again this year.
2. MER DE GLACE (JPN) – 56kg – Barrier 2 – Damien Lane
The Caulfield Cup winner (122 Timeform rating) strided up like a superstar and made easy work of a quality field, stretching his winning record in 2019 to 6 in a row.
In his 18 starts to date, he has never raced beyond 2400m. A wet track like we saw on derby day would be a massive negative to his chances.
Based on what we saw at Caulfield, you have to believe a steady tempo Melbourne Cup would suit, but there are more questions than answers about this horse.
3. MASTER OF REALITY (IRE) – 55.5kg – Barrier 1 – Frankie Dettori
Produced a 123 Timeform rating run in the Ascot Gold Cup back in June, beating home Cross Counter and Raymond Tusk on that occasion.
He is yet to break a 120 Timeform rating under 4000m which is an issue for the rating believers, but he was respectable enough when finishing fifth in the Irish St Leger over 2800m leading them around.
He doesn’t possess a turn of foot and will need a strongly run 3200m to feature in our top race.
4. MIRAGE DANCER (GB) – 55.5kg – Barrier 13 – Ben Melham
A Group 3 winner over the 2400m distance, Mirage Dancer handles any surface type and continues to run well in group company this preparation without winning.
Ratings wise, Mirage Dancer ran a very competitive 119 Timeform Rating in the Hardwicke Stakes back in June and if the Busuttin and Young stable can find improvement in this horse.
Another placing in another big race was shown last start with a third in the Caulfield Cup. The 3200m is a query.
Likely top 6 chance but hard to see the horse winning a Melbourne Cup.
5. SOUTHERN FRANCE (IRE) – 55.5kg – Barrier 14 – Mark Zahra
Leaving the Aidan O’Brien yard to join the Maher and Eustace stable, Southern France comes to Australia as a main player for the 2019 Melbourne Cup.
This preparation saw Southern France run the best stayer in the world, Stradivarius, to less than a length at York in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup over 2800m, before his form tapered off slightly managing just fourth in the Curragh Cup and Goodwood Cup.
Most importantly, Southern France comfortably beat home Downdraft in recent starts who has come up much shorter in the market after winning the Lexus on Saturday.
He then won well in the Irish St Leger Trial Stakes over 2800m (note sweated up heavily on the day in 3-4 spots) where he comfortably beat home Downdraft who is much shorter in the market after winning the Lexus on Saturday.
Southern France finished off the UK campaign with a respectable third in the Irish St Leger beating home Cross Counter, Master of Reality and Latrobe.
A top chance at odds
6. HUNTING HORN (IRE) – 55kg – Barrier 11 – Jamie Heffernan
Used largely as a pacemaker over in the UK, Hunting Horn has run credible ever since winning the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes at Ascot in 2018 by 4.5 lengths.
This horse loves fast ground and won well in much easier grade in the Moonee Valley Cup last start in a race that suited a 2000m horse.
Hard to be excited about this horse over 3200m on what we know to-date.
7. LATROBE (IRE) – 55kg – Barrier 22 – James McDonald
A consistent type putting solid rating runs on the board in every run this preparation, but Latrobe has won just 1 of his last 10 races which is certainly playing against him from a punters perspective.
Two runs back, he won the Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown as favourite before managing just sixth in the Irish St Leger.
Latrobe’s best Timeform Rating run of 119 was at Flemington last year over 2000m.
After a very good showing at Werribee, he has been backed in markets.
8. MUSTAJEER (GB) – 55kg – Barrier 6 – Damien Oliver
An impressive winner of the Ebor handicap, before coming out to Australia Mustajeer was also placing in Group 1 company and ran a close second behind Master of Reality at Navan, beating home Southern France, Capri and Twilight Payment.
Mustajeer is a sound horse that handles any racetrack condition which is a big bonus and there is no question about the horses staying the 3200m distance based on previous performances.
Held up for runs in the Caulfield Cup, Mustajeer did everything required of him towards the goal run in the Melbourne Cup.
One of the chances
9. ROSTROPOVICH (IRE) – 55kg – Barrier 12 – Dwayne Dunn
Group 1 placed over 2400m back in Ireland, Rostropovich has failed to get within 3 legnths of a victory in all 5 starts in Australia.
Last start in the Caulfield Cup did a load of work early and that showed late with a poor performance overall.
Will need to run a career peak. Poorly weighted.
10. TWILIGHT PAYMENT (IRE) – 55kg – Barrier 19 – Hugh Bowman
A strong staying type best seen at 2400 metres and beyond. Twilight Payment beat home Latrobe in the Group 2 Curragh Cup over 2800m in June with Southern France and Mustajeer finishing fourth and fifth on that day.
Returned to the track first up in September after 79 days off with a disappointing seventh in the Irish St Leger, it’s hard to know if the real Twilight Payment has made the trip out to Australia.
Will get the distance. Handles all track conditions.
11. FINCHE (GB) – 54kg – Barrier 4 – Kerrin Mc Evoy
The Caulfield Cup favourite, Finche loomed up at the top of the straight but as soon as he looked the main chance, he was gobbled up by the field and ended a respectable 5th.
There is little doubt that the main aim for Finche was the Caulfield Cup based on his previous best performances, but we also know that after a 4th in the Melbourne Cup last year that he will get the distance.
A contender but short in the markets
12. PRINCE OF ARRAN (GB) – 54kg – Barrier 8 – Michael Walker
Prince of Arran has been globe trekking since running third in the Melbourne Cup last year, but hadn’t scored this preparation until winning the Geelong Cup.
First up in Australia he ran very well for an equal career peak Timeform Rating of 118 in the Herbert Power, but still couldn’t manage a victory.
He did win a hotly contested Geelong Cup second up, but needs to improve onwards again to measure up for the win
Top 6 chance
13. RAYMOND TUSK (IRE) – 54kg – Barrier 3 – Jamie Spencer
A quality stayer that will have no trouble getting a strongly run 3200m. Raymond Tusk carried a big weight in the Ebor Handicap when running fourth after finding trouble in the home straight.
His last run over 3200m was 4 runs back when finishing second behind Dee Ex Bee in the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot.
Looks a big player in the race.
14. DOWNDRAFT (IRE) – 53.5kg – Barrier 15 – John Allen
An OTI import that progressed strongly through the grades back in Ireland with listed grade wins at Roscommon and Down Royal.
When second in the Irish St Leger Trial Stakes, Downdraft got back too far in the race giving Southern France too large of a lead and did his best work late through the line.
Secured a spot in the race with a dominant untested win in the Lexus on Saturday.
Looks the type that will appreciate 3200m.
15. MAGIC WAND (IRE) – 53.5kg – Barrier 24 – Ryan Moore
A six-time Group 1 placed filly, Magic Wand was fairly beaten into second in Group 1 grade last start in the Irish Champion Stakes behind Magical.
There is little doubt that she will handle any race conditions in Australia, but her record suggests she is a better place bet than win bet in most races.
Ran a respectable 4th in the Cox Plate leading them around two weeks back. Unknown at 3200m. Has won at 2400m in the past.
Don’t Dismiss with Moore onboard
16. NEUFBOSC (FR) – 53.5kg – Barrier 23 – Luke Nolen
Looked a potential Melbourne Cup type when shipped out here after 300 days off the track and a Group 1 second in 2018 over 2400m on record.
He has had every chance every run this preperation to produce a run worthy of consideration in this great race and hasn’t
17. SOUND (GER) – 53.5kg – Barrier 10 – James Winks
Since coming to Australia, Sound has had 8 runs for 0 placings. Hasn’t gotten within 3.9 lengths of a winner on any occasion.
Had a horrible run last year in this race when 4-wide the trip. Is an out and out stayer.
Hard to suggest.
18. SURPRISE BABY (NZ) – 53.5kg – Barrier 20 – Jordan Childs
An out and out stayer that will have little trouble seeing out 3200m after a strong 2nd last prep over 2800 in the Andrew Ramsden after winning the Adelaide Cup over 3200m several weeks prior.
He came back well this preparation scoring a win in The Bart Cummings over 2520m at Flemington to secure his slot.
One of two local hopes with claims.
19. CONSTANTINOPLE (IRE) – 52.5kg – Barrier 7 – Joao Moreira
Progressed through the grades this preparation scoring a Group 3 victory in early May at The Curragh before running strong seconds the past three starts including a placing behind Logician in the Voltigeur Stakes at York.
Now trained out of Lindsay Park and the original aim was the 2400m Caulfield Cup. His run prior to the Caulfield Cup was a 120 Timeform and he went to a new level in the Caulfield Cup recording a 122 Timeform rating which has him extremely well in at such a low weight.
Looks the type that will handle the 3200m, but yet to prove anything over the distance.
Short being favourite but truly a contender
20. IL PARADISO (USA) – 52.5kg – Barrier 17 – Wayne Lordan
Bred to stay the Melbourne Cup distance, Il Paradiso won three runs back in Handicap grade over 3200m before placing in Group 3 company at York in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup Stakes behind Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee.
An on speed leader type, he ran a Timeform Rating of 119 in the The Lonsdale Cup Stakes. Couple that rating with his north hemisphere 3YO weight allowance in the Melbourne Cup and you get a key contender for the cup.
When you consider that he ran the best stayer in the world Stratavarious to 1.3L and was nosed out for 2nd by Dee Ex Bee who has run 3rd/2nd/2nd/2nd/1st/1st over 3200-4000m the past 6 starts in G1, G1, G1, G1, G3, G3 grade.
For reference Stradivarius last 10 runs were all wins in G1/G2 grade until last start when beaten 0.02L by Kew Gardens (who was given top weight in the Melbourne Cup at nominations and is a multiple G1 winner over 2000-3200m).
Only reason the horse is $14 not $6 is a last start fail over 2900 with the stables 6th choice jockey was onboard. Wayne Lordan jumps back aboard this unique horse again.
21. STEEL PRINCE (IRE) – 52.5kg – Barrier 16 – Brett Prebble
Won the Andrew Ramsden with arrogance last prep but has failed to fire all 3 runs this preparation.
Steel Prince had a lameness issue between runs and that showed at Geelong in the Cup.
Huge query over the fitness and soundness of this horse being 100% going into the race.
One i’m comfortable taking on.
22. THE CHOSEN ONE (NZ) – 52kg – Barrier 18 – Tim Clark
An inconsistent type that at his best can produce runs that could factor here.
The win in the Herbert Power showed his true ability beating home Prince of Arran on that day.
Has failed to fire in the Caulfield Cup and last start in the Lexus when he was backed late.
Unknown over 3200m. Hard to have.
23. VOW AND DECLARE – 52kg – Barrier 21 – Craig Williams
Last preparation ran a close 2nd in the Queensland Derby before landing a 3000m Group 3 race.
Two runs this preparation have been super with a 4th in the Turnbull and then a 2nd in the Caulfield Cup from a long way back in run.
Will stay the distance. Low weight. Suited at Flemington.
Top local chance
24. YOUNGSTAR – 52kg – Barrier 9 – Tommy Berry
Normally a get back and run on type, Youngstar has failed to get within 3 lengths of a victory five runs this preparation.
Parades like a superstar normally and ran 6th in this race last year. Gets the distance but current form isn’t good enough.
Hard to have.
Top Chances: IL PARADISO, CONSTANTINOPLE, SOUTHERN FRANCE
High Chances: VOW AND DECLARE, MAGIC WAND, DOWNDRAFT, RAYMOND TUSK, MUSTAJEER, CROSS COUNTER, MER DE GLACE
Medium Chances: SURPRISE BABY, PRINCE OF ARRAN, FINCHE, TWILIGHT PAYMENT, LATROBE, MASTER OF REALITY, MIRAGE DANCER
Low Chances: YOUNGSTAR, THE CHOSEN ONE, STEEL PRINCE, HUNTING HORN
Little Chance: SOUND, NEUFBOSC, ROSTROPOVICH