2018 Melbourne Cup Preview & Betting Tips

November 4th 2018, 10:24pm, By: tim_tips

The first Tuesday in November is upon us, which means all eyes will be on Flemington Racecourse at 3pm AEDT on Tuesday, November 6th. Check out our comprehensive runner-by-runner preview of the $7million Melbourne Cup below!

2018 Melbourne Cup Preview & Betting Tips

Track Conditions

The Bureau of Meteorology are predicting 3-15mm of rain on Monday and 5-15mm of rain on Tuesday. If we see anywhere near that rain, especially prior to the Cup on Tuesday, I think we’ll be racing in the Soft range. The track was rock-hard on Derby Day but I doubt we’ll be racing on anything close to that for the Cup. We’ll need to monitor the rainfall on Monday because Melbourne weather doesn’t necessarily always reflect the predictions! The rail goes out 2m after it was in the True position for Derby Day.

Speed Map

There looks to be two clear frontrunners here but there’s a few horses drawn wide which could go either forward or back. Runaway and Rostropovich look the two to set the pace, with Runaway likely to find the rail and Rostropovich likely to settle to his outside. Ace High led the Caulfield Cup but compounded badly; he’s drawn barrier 22 here and will probably roll forward once again. The Japanese galloper Chestnut Coat will put himself on speed, as will Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution. Marmelo draws nicely in barrier 10 and will look to position prominently. The first of the query runners is Saturday’s winner A Prince Of Arran, who draws wide in barrier 20. They could roll the dice and try to follow something over to slot into a three-wide running line. Vengeur Masque and Ventura Storm both draw favourably and can take closer positions. Muntahaa was ridden very interestingly from a wide gate in his Ebor victory last time we saw him. I suspect he will try and land somewhere in midfield from gate 13. The Cliffsofmoher will be in midfield or closer, with Auvray likely to kick up and take closer order from barrier 1. Sir Charles Road and Finche will both be hoping to find cover just off the speed. It will be interesting to see if they try and position Youngstar any closer from the good barrier. She was given no chance from so far back last start so from barrier 8 and only 51kg they may try to be more positive. Avilius will be under no pressure early. He’s drawn ideally in barrier 11 and can settle wherever he feels comfortable (likely to be in the back half of the field). Magic Circle will need a good piece of riding to find cover from barrier 17. Nakeeta, Sound Check, Zacada and Who Shot Thebarman are typical backmarkers, while the favourite Yucatan went back to last in the Herbert Power after drawing barrier 15 of 15, so from barrier 23 of 24 here I suspect we will see tactics that are much the same. The really interesting one is Cross Counter, who has shown the ability to race on speed or off the speed. From barrier 19, what will they do? I get the feeling they may ride him conservatively given he’s missed some work in the lead up to the race. Overall, I think we’ll get a fairly decent tempo. I don’t think it will be red hot but it won’t be as much as a crawl as the Caulfield Cup was.

 

Runner-by-runner analysis

 

#

HORSE

WEIGHT

BARRIER

TRAINER

JOCKEY

1

Best Solution

57.5

6

Saeed Bin Suroor

Pat Cosgrave

 

Winner of the Caulfield Cup last start, which was his first start in Australia. That made it four wins from four starts this preparation, including three at Group 1 level. His performance in the Caulfield Cup was nothing short of enormous, after he was forced to go for home very early. The rain that’s predicted won’t affect him at all given he’s won three from four on soft ground. Drawn ideally but the obvious query is the record of horses carrying top weight in the Melbourne Cup. He has to overcome a pretty significant historical hurdle and there is still some query over his ability to run 3200m (2450m is the furthest he’s run) but he’s in sensational form and I’d expect another big run.

2

The Cliffsofmoher

56.5

9

Aiden O’Brien

Ryan Moore

 

Two runs in Australia have both been positive, with a 4th placing in the Caulfield Stakes followed by a 3rd placing behind Best Solution in the Caulfield Cup. He had his chance to run down Best Solution but the winner was too good and despite them saying he might be looking for two miles now, it’s hard to know if he really is. I wouldn’t underestimate this stable, especially with him going up in trip third up from a spell, but I think he’d need to improve to win this. He’s now had 11 goes at Group 1 level without winning but he is drawn very well in barrier 9 with Ryan Moore aboard so he’ll get his chance once again.

3

Magic Circle

56

17

Ian Williams

Corey Brown

 

UK raider who comes into the race first up from a 23-week spell and he’s also been gelded. Of course, last year’s winner Rekindling put the long-running “first up in Australia” hoodoo to bed so that no longer appears so much of an issue when assessing international runners! This horse’s record at the 3200m-3300m distance is quite sublime. He’s had five starts for four wins. Last preparation he had two runs and absolutely smoked his opposition, winning by 6L in both. One of those was the Chester Cup, which he beat A Prince Of Arran by 9L in. Overall, he’s had seven starts first up from a spell and has won four and the rain won’t worry him as he’s won six of his 12 starts on wet ground. He’ll need a good piece of riding to slot in from barrier 17 but I don’t think that’s a bad barrier. Looks a huge chance but the record of 7YO’s in the Cup is some query.

4

Chestnut Coat

55.5

4

Yoshito Yahagi

Yuga Kawada

 

Japanese representative who ran in the Caulfield Cup and showed very little, finishing 13th and beaten more than 10L. If he were able to recapture his form from last prep back in Japan, he’d probably be competitive, but you couldn’t possibly have him off that run in the Caulfield Cup. With that said, his first up record is pretty ordinary and he does tend to improve with one or two runs under the belt, but he’d have to improve out of sight. The stable notified of a late gear change – he’ll be racing with concussion plates on his front feet, which is a huge negative. Drawn well but likely to struggle.

5

Muntahaa

55.5

13

John Gosden

Jim Crowley

 

UK raider out of the powerful John Gosden stable, coming off a win in the Ebor Handicap at York 10 weeks ago. We’ve seen the Ebor prove to be a pretty reliable formline for the Melbourne Cup in recent years. 2016 winner Heartbreak City ran 2nd in the 2016 Melbourne Cup and 2017 Ebor winner Nakeeta ran 5th in last year’s Melbourne Cup. Muntahaa beat Weekender by 3.25L in this year’s Ebor and we can tie him into the likes of Magic Circle, who beat Weekender by 6.5L at Sandown in May. Muntahaa was also beaten 4.5L by Best Solution over 2400m back in July. He’s been gelded since winning the Ebor and although I don’t have him top pick, I think he’ll run a very good race. Probably would prefer it firm rather than soft.

6

Sound Check

55.5

16

Mike Moroney

Jordan Childs

 

Former German horse that has been prepared by Mike Moroney for this year’s Cup. Ran first up in the Caulfield Cup where he was beaten 10.25L by Best Solution. I think that was probably just a pipe-opener for him to get him spot on for the Melbourne Cup, as his best form last prep was over 2800-3200m. He settled back in the field from the wide gate in the Caulfield Cup so from barrier 16 here he’s likely to find a similar position. He’d probably prefer firmer ground rather than soft but it wouldn’t shock me to see sharp improvement from him on the bigger track up to 3200m here.

7

Who Shot Thebarman

55.5

18

Chris Waller

Ben Melham

 

10-year-old having his fifth start in the Melbourne Cup. He’s been competitive in just about every Cup he’s run in, including a 3rd in 2014 and 5th in 2016. When he ran 5th in 2016, he drew barrier 20 and basically came from last on the turn. Expect similar tactics today with barrier 18. I think they’ll just let him settle at the back and hope he can run home into the prizemoney again. He’s another that will probably appreciate firm ground rather than wet ground.

8

Ace High

55

22

David Payne

Tye Angland

 

Desperately needs firm ground so with the rain we’re expecting before the Cup, it basically rules him out completely, as we saw in the Caulfield Cup when the track was in the soft range. He’s had six starts on wet ground now for zero placings, so he looks hopeless here. Barrier 22 doesn’t help him either – they rolled forward in the Caulfield Cup but that obviously didn’t work out, so it will be interesting to see how he’s ridden from the wide gate today. Either way, no chance.

9

Marmelo

55

10

Hughie Morrison

Hugh Bowman

 

Started the $7.00 favourite in last year’s Melbourne Cup and ran 9th, beaten nearly 10L. Since the Cup, he’s followed nearly an identical preparation into this year’s Cup and has finished top two in all four starts this prep. Three starts ago he beat Weekender by 0.3L (both Muntahaa and Magic Circle beat Weekender convincingly). Bowman is booked to ride once again after piloting him last year and he draws perfectly in barrier 10. Carries the same weight as he did last year. He’ll be right up on the pace but I think there’s a couple ahead of him as winning chances.

10

Avilius

54.5

11

James Cummings

Glyn Schofield

 

Former French galloper that won his first four starts in Australia before finishing 4th behind Winx in the Cox Plate last time out. Ignore that run, it was simply to keep him ticking over towards the Melbourne Cup and likely James Cummings following Bart’s old tactic of getting 10km into a horse’s legs before the Cup. His win two starts ago in the Bart Cummings was sound and he won that in a much quicker time than what A Prince Of Arran won the Lexus in on Saturday. Of course the 3200m remains a query but he’s weighted nicely and drawn ideally. Big chance.

11

Yucatan

54.5

23

Aiden O’Brien

James McDonald

 

Shot into favouritism after an explosive win in the Herbet Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield, which was his first start in Australia. The form from that race has been franked with A Prince Of Arran and Brimham Rocks running the quinella in the Lexus Stakes on Saturday. Yucatan would have beaten them by much more if he wasn’t eased up the last 50m. Once again, the query remains the 3200m and of course barrier 23 is little help. However, he drew barrier 15 of 15 in the Herbet Power, which proved little worry, and 2016 runner-up Heartbreak City drew barrier 23 and lost by a nose. Just going to need a superb ride. Think he’s found his right price but obviously a leading contender.

12

Auvray

54

1

Richard Freedman

Tommy Berry

 

Ran 4th in this year’s Sydney Cup over the 3200m but that’s typically a very weak form race when lining it up to the Melbourne Cup (Who Shot Thebarman won the Sydney Cup this year). His form is well below what’s needed but it wouldn’t shock me to see him run top 10 with a soft run from barrier 1. Not a winning chance though.

13

Finche

54

15

Chris Waller

Zac Purton

 

5YO by Frankel who had his first start for Chris Waller in the Geelong Cup, where he finished 3rd and looked pretty dour, suggesting the 3200m may suit him pretty well. He defeated Tiberian over 2500m in France last prep which is reasonable form and also ran 3rd behind Cracksman and Avilius last year. Drawn a touch awkwardly but gets star hoop Zac Purton on board and his overall profile for this race is pretty good. I think he’s a knockout hope but the form out of the Geelong Cup is a big cause for concern.

14

Red Cardinal

54

5

Darren Weir

Damien Oliver

 

Really struggling for form this time in work and he was beaten 11L in last year’s Melbourne Cup. The only little positives for him are the step up to 3200m and the blinkers going on for the first time but he’d need to improve out of sight to be anywhere near competitive.

15

Vengeur Masque

54

2

Mike Moroney

Patrick Moloney

 

Just been ticking over this preparation but was beaten 5L by Avilius two starts ago and 4.75L by Best Solution in the Caulfield Cup last start. He did win the Geelong Cup on his way to winning the Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 2600m at Flemington this time last year but he’s not anywhere near that form at present.

16

Ventura Storm

54

7

D & B Hayes & T Dabernig

Mark Zahra

 

Been very solid this preparation and finally broke through for his first Australian win in the Moonee Valley Cup last start. Prior to that he ran the second-best final 200m in the Caulfield Cup, albeit beaten 5.5L by Best Solution, but he had no hope from the back of the field with the way the race was run. He finished second last in the Cup last year but h got his tongue over the bit so forget that run and I think he goes into the race in better form this year. Drawn ideally and can be competitive without being a top hope.

17

A Prince Of Arran

53

20

Charlie Fellowes

Michael Walker

 

Ran a luckless 3rd behind Yucatan (but still comfortably beaten) in the Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) before winning the Lexus over 2500m. Gets in very well at the weights with just 53kg after escaping a penalty for his win on Saturday but barrier 20 isn’t a kind draw. I suspect they’ll take him back from that gate and try to slot in just worse than midfield. He’s got a decent record at the distance and I don’t think it will be an issue for him at all but he was given a fair old spanking by Magic Circle in the Chester Cup in May. Does he have the class of those higher up the weights? Probably not, but he does get the weight relief. The only other query is the three-day back-up after winning on Derby Day.

18

Nakeeta

53

3

Ian Jardine

Regan Bayliss

 

Ran 5th in last year’s Cup after winning the 2017 Ebor Handicap but his form this time around hasn’t been as good. He hasn’t finished closer than 5th in six runs this campaign and he was uncompetitive in the Moonee Valley Cup last start. Carries the same weight as last year and has drawn better in barrier 3 this year (drew barrier 19 last year) and the rain predicted is a good thing for him. His record on wet ground is far better than his record on firm ground so he probably could be a top 10 hope at $101.

19

Sir Charles Road

53

14

L O’Sullivan & A Scott

Dwayne Dunn

 

Won a G2 in Sydney over 2600m in the Autumn, defeating Ventura Storm, on his way to a 3rd placing in the Sydney Cup. This time in he’s had four runs, the latest of which was a 3rd placing in the Bendigo Cup. That form looks inferior for him to be a winning chance in this but I could see him running an honest race now he’s up to the 3200m.

20

Zacada

53

24

M Baker & A Forsman

Damian Lane

 

Has had four runs this preparation and is yet to get within 7L of the winner. Drawn barrier 24, looks like he’ll struggle. With that said, he took similar form into the Sydney Cup earlier this year and was beaten just a nose as a $91 chance!

21

Runaway

52

12

G Waterhouse & A Bott

Stephen Baster

 

Has had a pretty decent campaign, highlighted by a victory in the Geelong Cup last start where he led from start to finish. Nothing really made ground in that race and the form out of the race has been pretty sketchy thus far. He’ll definitely go forward from barrier 12 and probably find the lead but there looks to be a bit of pressure on up front. Won over 2800m as a three-year-old but the form from that race has turned out poor. His only try at 3200m was a failure but that was at the end of a long campaign. Nicely weighted with just 52kg but hard to see him featuring in the finish.

22

Youngstar

51.5

8

Chris Waller

Craig Williams

 

Flying under the radar a bit. She was huge behind Winx in the Turnbull Stakes two starts ago and had absolutely no chance given the run she had in the Caulfield Cup last start. She was well-back in the field in a very slowly run race and it was practically impossible to win from where she was given the early sectionals of the race. She still ran home in the clear best final 200m of the race and if this is run at a stronger tempo, she could be in with a big chance. Expect her to settle much closer from barrier 8 here and the rain that’s forecast probably only enhances her chances. 51.5kg on her back, she’s got winning claims.

23

Cross Counter

51

19

Charlie Appleby

Kerrin McEvoy

 

Very interesting runner. He’s a northern-hemisphere three-year-old, much like last year’s Cup winner Rekindling. He’s only had seven career starts but has recorded four wins, including a dominant win in G3 company over 2400m at Goodwood back in August. Last time we saw him he ran 2nd to Old Persian, with Kew Gardens back in 3rd. Kew Gardens subsequently won the G1 St Leger at Doncaster, so the form has certainly held up. The big query with Cross Counter is the fact he cut his leg three weeks ago and missed a little bit of work. He gets bandages on that leg for the first time which tells me that wound hasn’t really healed 100%. It’s certainly not ideal for a young horse to miss any work through a setback leading into its first 3200m race. Drawn awkwardly in barrier 19 but Kerrin McEvoy rides for the powerful Charlie Appleby stable. I’d be pretty keen if he hadn’t suffered that setback so recently, but outside of that he profiles very well.

24

Rostropovich

51

21

Aiden O’Brien

Wayne Lordan

 

Knockout hope. The third-stringer for the Aiden O’Brien stable according to the market. He’s mixed his form a bit throughout the year. Back in June he ran 2nd to Old Persian over 2400m, who then beat Cross Counter at York. Rostropovich then ran 2nd in the Irish Derby, splitting Latrobe and Saxon Warrior. He’s had one run in Australia which was in the Cox Plate, where he did plenty of work to eventually land outside the leader. He finished 5th, beaten 8.75L but will be better for the run. It’s obviously a query jumping from 2040m to 3200m but he’ll put himself up on the speed from barrier 21 and with 51kg on his back could be there for a long way. Never underestimate this stable.

Selections

If Yucatan had have drawn a barrier, this could be as good as over. Similarly, if Cross Counter hadn’t have had issues leading up to the race, he could well have been an easy selection too. Magic Circle’s recent form has him right up there but the record of 7YO’s in the Cup is off-putting. Still, with the rain expected, I’ve gone with him on top. He doesn’t fit the typical profile of a horse I look for in the Cup but the only knock I have for him is his age and that isn’t enough to stop me backing him. I think we’ll see those at the top of the weights feature this year, so Best Solution is an obvious inclusion given his recent form and his record on soft ground. I have queries over The CLiffsofmoher’s ability at 3200m, while the soft ground may test Muntahaa. Avilius profiles very well but his staying form compared to the other Europeans is the doubt. I think the smokey is Youngstar. She profiles terrifically as a 4YO mare with 51.5kg and a good barrier. Her run in the Caulfield Cup was much better than it looked and provided she stays, I think she’ll be in this up to her ears. A Prince Of Arran will run honest if he handles the back-up, while Finche is another that looks to have flown under the radar. Rostropovich has been underestimated and on his best form would be competitive. Marmelo burnt me last year so I’ll be taking him on.

1ST         MAGIC CIRCLE                 $9.00

2ND          YOUNGSTAR                    $16.00

3RD         YUCATAN                        $6.00

4TH         BEST SOLUTION               $13.00

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