The first Monday in November for those in the Horse Racing Industry is kinda like our Christmas Eve, as we all know that the first Tuesday of November hosts the race that stops the Nation- however it is becoming more of an international event.
By this stage, workplaces around the country have completed their office sweeps and everyone knows who they are cheering home, Ladies have organised the all important Cup outfit (if headed to the races), Catering for those office parties has been ordered and people are potentially doing a last minute dash to the local bottle shop to make sure they have enough alcohol to celebrate our infamous race.
Over the years we have seen the number of Australian Bred horses reduce and this year is no different with the large influx of Internationals coming to take our famous cup home. For those lucky enough to have a runner in the big race, no doubt by this time the horse has been bedded down for the night and the Strapper getting ready to have an early night ahead of the big day tomorrow. For the other connections, a nervous night ahead.
Every year as the Cup nears closer but more so in the week leading up to the big race, I am constantly asked who my tip is. Not only is the Melbourne Cup the race that stops the nation, it is also the hardest race on the entire Australian Racing calendar that is quite hard to pick a likely winner. Many ask why, simply there are so many different form lines (paths they have taken to get to the race), there is also the statistics that come with the race looking at barriers, saddle cloth numbers, weights, age/gender etc.
So really when looking at who you are going to tip in the cup, it isn’t as simple as picking a horse- there is much more behind it. While a horse can look the winner in relation to statistics, in reality any of the 24 runners can win the race as at the end of the day it simply comes down to which horse gets the best running in the race. With this it can be a few things that help such as- the jump (how the horse leaves the barriers), settling in the run (is the jockey fighting the horse or is the horse not settling), traffic in the run (is your chance getting stuck behind tiring horses), Stamina of the horse (possibly the most important thing- does your pick still have the energy at the end of the 2 miles to have that sprint at the end).
All the questions that you find yourself asking about the race is what makes it exciting, really it is the one day that the eyes of the Nation and world tune in to watch our big race and it is a day that we should enjoy for the history and the fun that comes with the tradition.
I know there are likely some reading this that are asking themselves “well come on, who is your tip?”
I don’t like to call them tips but the horses that I do like in the race are as below and in no order:
Best Solution- Pat Cosgrove for Saeed Bin Suror (Godolphin)
I was not on this horse in the Caulfield Cup, however he really caught my eye when I saw him in the mounting yard. When I then looked at his form and listening to the interview of the trainer, this gave me the confidence to jump on and back him. Showed a really good tough battle to win the Caulfield Cup. Proven at Group 1 level around the Globe, query is the distance but I think he has the ability to stay the trip.
Yucatan- James Mcdonald for Aidan O’Brien
Very impressive last start in the Group 2 Herbert Power where mid race made a move on the field and took up the running just before the turn. On the home turn the horse kicked away and lead by 6 lengths before being eased up to win by a length. If statistics is anything to go by then the challenge for this horse is the barrier (23), no horse has won from an outside barrier. Just oozes quality and it would be nice to see James McDonald get up and win on the back of his return earlier in the year.
Avilius – Glyn Schofield for James Cummings (Godolphin)
Since Schofield has been legged aboard the 5 year old, in his last 6 starts the pairing have been the first past the post on 4 occasions with a 3rd placing and a 4th in the last outing. Looks to be a grinding stayer and has a strong finish. Looks to be a quality horse that could give James his first Melbourne Cup win. Looks to be a real tough stayer and if handy could show his strong finish to cause an upset on the other two fancied chances.
Chestnut Coat – Yuga Kawada for Yoshito Yahagi
Since the year that the Japanese gallopers Delta Blues & Pop Rocks quinellaed the cup, you have to respect the Japanese when they travel their stayers. The horses are always large horses and seem to perform well when downunder. Although form is a bit all over and finished toward the rear of the field in the Caulfield Cup, could be the one to cause an upset and surprise.
Regardless of who you back or get in your cup sweep, enjoy the day and celebrate our great race.