The Melbourne Cup takes place in Flemington on Tuesday next, November 6th. Here I give my analysis of the main contenders and give you the most likely winner.
Despite the coffin draw in stall twenty three, favourite Yucatan will be feared by all after his hugely impressive win in the Herbert Power Stakes.
However, he was reported to be “puffy” in his joints after that race. When this is added to the fact that he was out for almost a full year with what can only be presumed to have been an injury, then one has to be worried about him acting again on the expected hard ground.
Horses with a history of leg problems might act once more on a hard surface, but that doesn’t mean they will do it a second time and the puffy joints admission is certainly worrying. Just because he is cantering around at home and happy in his day to day work doesn’t mean it will be the same when push comes to shove on race day.
Yucatan is also being asked to race over a full half mile further than ever before and seeing as his dam was only a miler, there has to be a doubt about him staying the trip. For sure, as a son of Galileo, there is ample speed and stamina on the sire side, but he definitely has questions to answer regarding trip and going.
I see these two factors as potentially bigger problems than the unhelpful stalls draw.
I will also mention how connections of Yucatan pulled out their other fancied runner, Latrobe. As I had backed Latrobe and also tipped him up on this website at what turned out to be odds of near 48/1 after a double with Roaring Lion who won at Ascot a few weeks ago, I will admit to talking slightly through my pocket when I say they made a big mistake in switching Latrobe from this race to the Mackinnon Stakes a few weeks later.
As an Irish Derby winner with eight stone in a handicap, Latrobe will never again get a better chance to win a big race. He will absolutely never win a bigger race. This was a huge chance for him. Obviously he was pulled out as the owners believe they have the winner in Yucatan, but as has been explained above, Yucatan, though probably the most likely winner of this years Melbourne Cup, is no certainty.
Even if Yucatan goes on to win and Latrobe wins the Mackinnon, it will still have been a mistake. You have to give yourself every chance of winning a race like this and Latrobe was the perfect candidate.
Magic Circle has been hugely impressive with two facile wins since switching to impressive dual purpose trainer, Ian Williams.
The way he quickened up on both occasions was deeply impressive and the form has looked solid. The second of those runs was in May of this year and this strapping son of Mafki has since been kept specifically for Melbourne. His strong travelling racing style and turn of foot are also tailor made for the race that stops a nation.
My worry about him is if the ground will be too firm as he has never won on faster than good and in fact most of his wins have come with give underfoot. Mafki progeny are also not especially known for acting on a firm surface.
I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if Magic Circle won, but I wouldn’t back him at current odds despite the fact that it will be a rare novelty if he wins as his owner, Dr Marwan Koukash, has promised to collect the Cup wearing nothing but a thong if his horse wins!
This three year old represents the powerful Charlie Appleby yard and will have his supporters. He has a squeak, but I feel he is too unfurnished mentally for this race.
Muntahaa boasts impressive Ebor winning form and represents one of the best trainers in the World in John Gosden. For these reasons he can’t be ruled out, but he doesn’t win often enough and I suggest looking elsewhere.
Avilius is a son of sprinter/miler stallion Pivotal and represents weak Australian form and I will lay an egg if he wins this despite his relatively lofty position towards the head of the market.
Best Solution did this column a mighty favour when landing the recent Caulfield Cup at advised odds of 25/1.
The Caulfield Cup is always considered the best trial race for the Melbourne showpiece, and this Saeed Bin Suroor trained colt was a game winner of that race.
However, he is shouldered with top weight here and there has to be a huge doubt about this son of Kodiac getting the trip.
He is extremely tough though and knows how to win and the top weight isn’t as much of a burden as many believe. He also has the benefit of a good stalls draw this time and if he can settle into a nice position early then he could win again.
Latrobe was the one and in his absence I wouldn’t advise backing anything as the book is about right and the winner should come from among the leading market contenders. Yucatan, Magic Circle and Best Solution all have questions to answer but are the most likely winners in that order.