2019 Melbourne Cup Preview & Betting Tips

November 4th 2019, 5:31pm, By: tim_tips

The Group 1 Melbourne Cup is 'The Race That Stops The Nation' and is set to be run at 3pm AEDT at Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday, November 5th 2019!

The final field of 24 has been decided and the barrier draw has been conducted. The best of the local staying ranks will be taking on a strong selection of international runners looking to take home the majority of the $8million prize purse.

Check out our in-depth runner-by-runner preview of the race below, including our speed map and tempo comments, as well as our selections for the event.

2019 Melbourne Cup Preview & Betting Tips

Speed map & tempo

 

Leader

On-pace

Forward of midfield

Midfield

Worse than midfield

Backmarker

Master Of Reality (1)

Southern France (14)

Cross Counter (5)

Mer De Glace (2)

Mustajeer (6)

Magic Wand* (24)

Latrobe* (22)

Hunting Horn (11)

Finche (4)

Mirage Dancer (13)

Sound (10)

Neufbosc (23)

 

Twilight Payment (19)

Prince Of Arran (8)

Rostropovich (12)

Surprise Baby (20)

 

 

Raymond Tusk (3)

 

Constantinople (7)

Steel Prince (16)

 

 

Downdraft (15)

 

Youngstar (9)

The Chosen One (18)

 

 

Il Paradiso (17)

 

 

Vow And Declare (21)

 

There could be a decent charge to the first corner and beyond here, but it's a bit up in the air as to which horse takes up the running upon settling. I suspect we'll see (3) Master Of Relity dug up from the inside gate to lead, but it also wouldn't surprise me if they let one cross him to sit one pair back on the rail. Immediately we have questions over what they do with both (7) Latrobe and (15) Magic Wand. Latrobe's only start in Australia came in last year's Mackinnon Stakes, where he settled worse than midfield from an inside barrier, but more recently in the UK we've seen him settle right up on the speed, so don't be surprise if he's sent foward from barrier 22. Magic Wand led in the Cox Plate and could well be sent forward to lead again from barrier 24, but we've seen Ryan Moore take her right to the back of the field from wide barriers in the past. With both horses, it could be one or the other here and we likely won't know until they jump. (10) Twilight Payment does his racing up on speed so Hugh Bowman should be taking him forward from 19. He's one I could see Master Of Reality letting come across to lead. (20) Il Paradiso likes to race prominently so he's another of the Aiden O'Brien runners that will go forward, while (6) Hunting Horn settled 4th in his recent victory at Moonee Valley so should land on speed from the middle draw. (14) Downdraft has settled 2nd and 4th in his two Australia starts, he won't be far away either. We've seen (5) Southern France ridden on speed in his recent UK runs and trainer Ciaron Maher suggested he'd settle somewhere on the pace or forward of midfield, while (13) Raymond Tusk tends to use his good draw when he gets one. His past two starts in the UK he's been ridden at the rear but he's drawn wide on both occasions. With barrier 3 today, I think he'll be much closer to the speed. (1) Cross Counter came from the back of the field to win last year, but he started from barrier 19 on that occasion. From barrier 5 today, I think we'll see him midfield at the worst. (11) Finche will definitely be in the first half of the field and probably fairly prominent from barrier 4, with (12) Prince Of Arran another that will naturally land forward of midfield from his good draw. Where do we see Caulfield Cup winner (2) Mer De Glace ridden? Of course, he came from the back of the field at Caulfield after drawing 17, but from barrier 2 here we could see him further forward. It's hsi first attempt at the distance so he won't be bustled out of the gates. (19) Constantinople settled midfield before ending up near last on the turn in the Caulfield Cup. We should see him right in the heart of midfield again from barrier 7, with (4) Mirage Dancer likely to get a good spot with cover in the mid division too. (9) Rostropovich and (24) Youngstar shouldn't get too far back. (8) Mustajeer tends to settle worse than midfield so despite drawing low in 6 he'll probably be in the back half again. The same can be said about (17) Sound. Barrier 20 doesn't make a big difference to (18) Surprise Baby, who always settles well off the pace. I doubt they'll want to get too far back on (23) Vow And Declare but barrier 21 forces their hand a bit. I think they'll try and have him as close as they can but they won't risk getting posted wide without cover. (21) Steel Prince and (22) The Chosen One will both be towards the back. (16) Neufbosc looks the backmarker after drawing 23, and as aforementioned, could be joined by the likes of Latrobe or Magic Wand depending what they decide to do early.

Overall, I think we'll see a decent tempo here, especially in the early stages. They should steady up in the midstages of the race once they've found their positions, but I think that first 600m-800m of the race could string them out a bit with runners trying to get across from out wide.

Runner-by-runner analysis

 

  1. Cross Counter

The 2018 winner of the Melbourne Cup. You have to go back to Makybe Diva in 2003-2005 to find the last back-to-back winner of the Cup. Her victory in 2005 was also the last time a horse carried 57.5kg or more to victory. So, history doesn’t bode particularly well for Cross Counter. With that said, we are dealing with one of Europe’s elite stayers here. He won the race as a Northern-Hemisphere three-year-old last year, so returns a more mature and stronger horse this time around. The form behind the likes of Stradivarius is about as good as it gets, we know he runs the trip comfortably and we know he handles a potential wet track. I wonder if he still has the dynamic turn-of-foot we saw from him last year now that he’s a year older. He was explosive last year but his UK runs this year have seemed slightly less dynamic. Whereas we saw him settle toward the back from barrier 21 last year, I think we’ll see him no worse than midfield from barrier 5 this year. He’s a chance but I’ve got others ahead.

  1. Mer De Glace

The Japanese raider couldn’t have been more impressive in the Caulfield Cup just over two weeks ago. He settled near the back of the field from barrier 17 and put them away in a matter of strides in the straight, a performance which has him now installed as the favourite for this race. That was his first go at 2400m so the obvious query is his ability to stay 3200m. The way he ran through the line in the Caulfield Cup to me suggests he’s more likely than not to get the 3200m, but there’s also the chance he might be too brilliant and 2400m could be his max. He’s now won his past six races on the bounce and we need no reminding just how strong the Japanese form has proved this Spring. He’s another that I’d expect to settle in midfield from the inside draw. I don’t think he’ll be bustled out of the gates given it’s his first attempt at the distance, so they won’t want to do anything to fire him up, but I don’t think we’ll see him as far back as what he was in the Caulfield Cup. The major concern for me has to be the track conditions. Flemington is currently a Soft 6 with more rain predicted on Monday. Will it dry out enough for him in time for Tuesday’s race? I doubt it. He needs it Good or Firm. His one run on Soft ground was a failure, where he was beaten more than 7L. The other little query is the space between runs. All of his career wins have been with at least four weeks off leading into them. He gets just over two weeks break for today's race since his Caulfield Cup win.

  1. Master Of Reality

One of three Lloyd Williams runners in the race. He’s a Group 3 winner in the UK and more recently placed at Group 1 level behind Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee in the Ascot Gold Cup over 4000m back in June. He finished ahead of Cross Counter in that race and he meets Cross Counter 2kg better off at the weights for today’s race. Cross Counter didn’t run the trip out particularly strongly there though, he’s much better suited at 3200m. Master Of Reality was beaten 4L by Southern France two starts back in the Irish St Leger trial on Soft ground, and those two finished alongside each other in the St Leger itself. From barrier 1, I think Dettori will be no worse than one pair back, if not leading. He’s a chance.

  1. Mirage Dancer

Ran a terrific race in the Caulfield Cup at his first start in Australia, finishing 3rd beaten 1.2L. That was his first start in 11 weeks so he should improve off that a touch. He’s untested at the trip but three of his four career victories have come over 2400m so he’s a genuine stayer. In years gone by it’s been highly beneficial to have a lead in run in Australia prior to starting in the Cup. Drawn well to sit midfield from barrier 13 and he has claims at big odds.

  1. Southern France

Former Aiden O’Brien-trained horse now in the care of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace. He comes through a few similar formlines as some of the other Europeans in the race, having clashed with the likes of Master Of Reality, Cross Counter, Latrobe, Twilight Payment, Mirage Dancer, Downdraft and Mustajeer this year. They’ve all mixed their form a bit and they’ve almost taken turns finishing in different positions. If we look at recent performances, Southern France beat Downdraft by 2L over 2800m on Soft ground two starts back. Downdraft was the winner of Saturday’s Hotham Handicap which was also run on Soft ground, so that form ties in well. Last time he ran, Southern France ran 3rd in the G1 Irish St Leger behind Search For A Song and Kew Gardens, with Cross Counter about a head behind him in 4th. I think this stable has the potential to improve him and he should enjoy a good run forward of midfield from barrier 13. Soft ground is a plus in my opinion and he’s worth including.

  1. Hunting Horn

Got absolutely everything go his way in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup and appreciated the steep drop in class from what he’d been facing overseas. We did see that form franked with Downdraft coming out of that race to win Saturday’s Hotham Handicap, but I think this is a major step up in grade. Notably, Ryan Moore jumps off to ride stablemate Magic Wand. He’s a top 10 chance but he won’t be winning this.

  1. Latrobe

The second Lloyd Williams runner, to be ridden by James McDonald from barrier 22. While the barrier looks bad, we’ve seen wide barriers at the fore in recent years, so it’s not the end of the world. This horse won the G1 Irish Derby as a three-year-old and we saw him in Australia last Spring, where he was aimed at the G1 Mackinnon Stakes. He ran 2nd behind Trap For Fools on that occasion. Back in June he ran 4th at Royal Ascot, where he basically finished alongside Magic Wand, before running 2nd to Twilight Payment over 2800m. He won a six-runner Group 3 over 2400m two starts ago and finished 6th in the Irish St Leger last start, behind Southern France (3rd), Cross Counter (4th) and Master Of Reality (5th). Obviously have to respect this stable and connections but I’d be surprised.

  1. Mustajeer

Made his Australian debut in the Caulfield Cup, where he ran 6th beaten 1.8L. He ran home in similar sectionals to both Constantinople and Mirage Dancer and I think the step up to 2800m is really going to suit him. He was the winner of the Ebor Handicap at York before coming to Australia and we’ve seen that form hold up in recent years. He’s another that’s been taking turns and mixing form in Europe alongside the other raiders. At Navan back in April, he was beaten a head by Master Of Reality, with Southern France and Twilight Payment behind him. In June he finished midfield in the Curragh Cup, which was won by Twilight Payment ahead of Latrobe, and he then won the Ebor. He’s drawn well, gets an in-form and big-race jockey on board in Damien Oliver and the Soft ground is likely to suit him better than Good ground. He’s a chance but 7YO’s have a poor record in this race.

  1. Rostropovich

Returns after running 5th in this race last year, which was a big effort after being caught wide without cover for part of the race. He the spent 39 weeks off the track and has so far failed to rediscover any kind of form in his three starts back. He’s had some excuses in his last two starts having endured wide runs throughout, but he’s still been beaten a long way and it would be hard to make a case for him here.

  1. Twilight Payment

The third and final Lloyd Williams runner. Interestingly, Lloyd seems to think he’s no hope. He was a game winner of the Curragh Cup two starts ago, defeating Latrobe, Southern France and Mustajeer, so on that form you’d have to consider him some sort of chance. That was the same race Rekindling won before coming to Australia and winning the Cup in 2017. In fact, he’s followed a very similar path to what Rekindling did, the only difference being Rekindling had one more run between the Curragh Cup and the Irish St Leger. Twilight Payment instead had a longer break after the Curragh Cup and went into the Irish St Leger first up, where he finished midfield. The other difference is Rekindling was a Northern Hemisphere 3YO, whereas Twilight Payment is a 7YO and therefore carries 3.5kg more. He’s never won second up from a spell but he’s placed in four of his five attempts. Bowman takes the ride and I think he’s a definite top 10 chance.

  1. Finche

Ran 4th in this race last year, beaten 3.5L by Cross Counter, Marmelo and Prince Of Arran. He carries the exact same weight this year. I thought he ran well in the Caulfield Cup last start after covering ground for at least the first half of the race. He as only beaten 1.6L by Mer De Glace and he gets a few things in his favour today. Firstly, we know he can run the trip, we know he can handle wet ground, he’s drawn much better than he did in the Caulfield Cup and he gets a 1kg weight swing on the Japanese horse. Four 6YO’s have won this race in the past 10 years and they’ve all carried between 53-54.5kg so he’s weighted perfectly with 54kg. Kerrin McEvoy is one of, if not the best, rider in the country in staying races and the horse has been aimed at this race all along. Chris Waller can hardly be going any better than what he currently is and the horse has to be rated a huge chance this time around.

  1. Prince Of Arran

Just seems to grow a leg in Australia, this horse. His European form is nothing particularly special, especially compared to some of the other internationals in the race, but he’s had five starts in Australia for two wins and three placings. He ran 3rd in this race last year and that was after backing up from the Hotham Handicap three days earlier. He’s better suited this year having won his way into the race with victory in the Geelong Cup, which gives him an extra 10 days recovery compared to last year. The form is somewhat questionable out of that Geelong Cup, given Haky ran poorly last weekend, but the race itself was the fastest Geelong Cup in the past 15 years. The previous winners of the three fastest Geelong Cups were Media Puzzle, Zazzman and On A Jeune, who then went on to run 1st, 3rd and 2nd in their respective Melbourne Cups. So that’s a big positive. He’s a 7YO but he’s flying, he’s drawn well, he only carries 1kg more than last year and he’s had a better set up for the race. He’s a terrific place chance.

  1. Raymond Tusk

5YO UK raider trained by Richard Hannon and ridden by Jamie Spencer. His placings behind the likes of Dee Ex Bee and Crystal Ocean certainly warrant respect, as does his 4th placing in the Ebor last time we saw him. We’ve seen the Ebor stand up as a good form race in years gone by. He’s only had one run on Soft ground and that was two starts ago in the Ascot Gold Cup, where he was well beaten, but that was behind Stradivarius who is arguably the best stayer in the world, so it’s probably more to do with being outclassed than not handling the surface. His breeding suggests the ground will be no issue. He runs the trip, draws well and on his best form would be competitive.

  1. Downdraft

Has had two starts in Australia leading into the Cup, finishing 3rd in the Moonee Valle Gold Cup before winning the Hotham Handicap on Saturday over 2500m here at Flemington. That was on Soft ground, so we know he’ll relish the conditions, but the race itself looked particularly weak and he’d have to improve to win this in my opinion. He did split Southern France and Master Of Reality in the Irish St Leger Trial before coming to Australia, so his form isn’t completely lacking substance, but I think there’s others better.

  1. Magic Wand

Magic Wand ran well in the Cox Plate where she finished 4th after leading the field up. She was pressured mid-race by Black Heart Bart on that occasion, which probably took out of her finish, so it was a good run all things considered. She doesn’t win out of turn with just two victories from 19 starts, but she’s always around the mark and always tries. She’s untested at this distance but does have a 4L victory over 2400m to her name. The big negative for her is going to be the potentially wet track. If it’s still in the Soft range come Cup time, I don’t give her much of a chance. She seems to like it as firm as possible. Barrier 24 makes things very interesting. We saw her lead in the Cox Plate, but we’ve also seen her ridden dead cold from wide barriers in the past with Ryan Moore aboard, and with good effect. I wouldn’t be surprised if she sped across to lead, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see her snagged to the back, especially as it’s her first try at the distance. I was keen on her chances in the Cox Plate but I prefer others.

  1. Neufbosc

Has had five starts in Australia and hasn’t finished closer than 4.5L off the winner. No chance.

  1. Sound

He’s actually not completely hopeless here. He was travelling into the race rather well in the Caulfield Cup but he got cut in half in the straight. I reckon his run was better than what it might seem on paper. With that said, he’s had eight starts in Australia and hasn’t finished closer than 4th, and even then, he was beaten 6L. Hard to make a case for.

  1. Surprise Baby

Looks a realistic winning chance for the locals; I think he’s right in this. He’s got five wins from 10 career starts and returned from a spell in September with an eye-catching run in the Feehan Stakes at Moonee Valley. He then went straight from the mile to the 2500m of The Bart Cummings, where he settled back in the field and powered home over the top of them. He carried 57kg on that occasion and drops to 53.5kg for today’s race. Almandin won The Bart Cummings back in 2016 before going on to win the Cup at his next start and both have similar racing patterns. Jordan Childs will need to produce a gem from barrier 20, but two of the past three winners have started from barriers 19 and 17, while Heartbreak City started from barrier 23 when 2nd to Almandin in 2016, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing. He’s a great each way chance.

  1. Constantinople

What do we do with him? I was very keen on him in the Caulfield Cup and he ran enormous, he arguably should have won the race with any luck. He settled midfield but by the home turn he’d been dragged back to last. He then got held up once again at the 300m mark before balancing up and hitting the line strongly. He’s not the type of horse that can just stop and sprint. He’s a big, gangly, lanky horse that needs time to wind up, but when he gets going, he can really lengthen stride. There’s no doubt Mer De Glace has a better turn of foot than him, but he’s going to handle the track better than the Japanese horse and he’s also going to relish Flemington in my opinion. I don’t think there’s any queries about him getting 3200m either. Barrier 7 will see him sit midfield again and I think the instruction to Moreira will be to have him in clear galloping room as early as possible. He profiles exceptionally well as a 4YO with 52.5kg here and I suppose the only little query is whether he’s mature enough at this stage. He tends to do a few things wrong in the run and can find trouble, and you can’t afford to do that in a Melbourne Cup with quality opposition. He deserves to be where he is in betting markets and I’ll be having something on.

  1. Il Paradiso

Fascinating runner. Only had the eight career starts and he’s a typical light-raced Northern Hemisphere 3YO that gets in light under the race conditions. We’ve seen these exact types of horses perform so well in recent years. Rekindling (2017) had only had nine starts before winning his Melbourne Cup, carrying 51.5kg, and last year Cross Counter had only had seven starts before carrying 51kg to victory. Notably, Il Paradiso’s last run was at the same meeting at York this year that Cross Counter ran at leading into the Cup last year, however they tackled different races. Cross Counter ran 2nd in a G2 over 2400m, while Il Paradiso 3rd in a field of four over 3250m at G2 level. Cross Counter went straight into the Cup after that race but Il Paradiso ran again at York in the St Leger, finishing 5th. The important take away from that is that Rekindling ran 4th in the exact same race the start prior to winning his Cup in 2017. So, the path he’s taken here is one we’ve seen before and one that’s worked very well. Drawn barrier 17 but Cross Counter drew 19 last year and Almandin drew 17 in 2016. We know he runs the trip; we know he handles soft ground and we know he profiles well. The blinkers go on for the first time too. The only query I have is that Ryan Moore is riding Magic Wand, leaving Wayne Lordan to pick up the ride. I’m not sure if Moore can ride 52.5kg so that could be the answer. Has to be considered a leading chance!

  1. Steel Prince

He’s seemingly struggled to recapture his form from earlier in the year in his three runs back from a spell. It certainly didn’t help that he was scratched at the gates and missed a run prior to his last start, but even last start he didn’t catch the eye in the run to the line. He does have a terrific record at this track and he of course went to the line locked together with Surprise Baby in the Andrew Ramsden Stakes in May, but he hasn’t shown that same form since. The wet ground is another little query as he seems to appreciate the firmer going. I would say this stable is probably the best grand final stable in the country, but I have to take him on today.

  1. The Chosen One

Was impressive winning the Herbert Power Stakes three starts ago when the blinkers were applied, but has struggled since. He found it hard coming from the back of the field in the Caulfield Cup, where he drew wide, but he didn’t finish the race off as well as he could have, and he was below par in the Hotham Handicap on Saturday. The blinkers come back off today in an attempt to get him to settle given he over raced on the weekend, but I can’t make a case for him.

  1. Vow And Declare

He’s had a fascinating prep and he has to be considered. Went into the G1 Turnbull Stakes first up from a spell and caught the eye running home into 4th, and backed that up with a terrific run in the Caulfield Cup last start, beaten a length by Mer De Glace. He bolted in by more than 3L last preparation when he got up to 3000m, and even though the field was very weak, he couldn’t have been more impressive. Gets a 1kg weight swing on Mer De Glace and gets in with a weight he can certainly win with, it’s just whether he has the class of the European bred stayers. From barrier 21, I think they’ll try and have him as close as they can without getting caught wide without cover. I think in an ideal scenario, he’ll slot in midfield or worse than midfield with some cover, but it will take a very good piece of riding. He’s a top 5 chance and has to be respected.

  1. Youngstar

She showed a return to form last start in the ATC St Leger and Carif came out of that race to run 2nd in the Hotham Handicap on Saturday, but I struggle to see her winning this. She did run 6th in this race last year but I think she was going better into last year’s race than what she is at the moment.

Summary and selections

I'll be taking on the favourite (2) Mer De Glace here. I can't back them all and there's too many queries against him that are turning me off. He's yet to run 3200m, he doesn't seem to be effective on Soft ground and all of his victories have been with at least four weeks off leading into them. The Japanese have been dominant in the Spring features so far, but I think they'll come up short today. I'm taking a little gamble on the Aiden O'Brien-trained (20) Il Paradiso. He's a Northern Hemisphere three-year-old with just eight starts to his name, but we've seen horses with a very similar profile win the past two Melbourne Cups. He follows two identical races to what the two previous winners have contested leading into the Cup and on that basis, he has to be considered a leading chance. (11) Finche has had a faultless preparation aimed at this race. He carries the same weight as he did in last year's Melbourne Cup, where he ran 4th. He draws well, will handle a wet track and looked primed to run an enormous race. (12) Prince Of Arran is ticking along beautifully. His European form is only fair but his Australian form is superb. He's only had five starts here for two wins and three placings. He ran 3rd in last year's Cup on a three-day back up, but gets the aid of an extra 10 days recovery having won this year's Geelong Cup. That race was the fastest Geelong Cup in the past 15 years and the race has a history of producing Melbourne Cup placegetters when it's been run in that sort of time. He draws perfectly and it's hard to say he won't be very competitive once again. (18) Surprise Baby could be the best of the locals. He was a dominant winner in The Bart Cummings four weeks ago and 2016 winner Almandin won that race before winning the Cup, so it's a path well followed. The wide draw isn't of much concern to me. He should be charging home late. (19) Constantinople was a horror show in the Caulfield Cup and should have gone close to winning. He's another one of these Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds that looks well suited under the conditions of the race, with just 52.5kg. Whether he's mature enough at this stage is the issue, but I think if he gets clear running early in the straight he'll be right in the finish. (23) Vow And Declare next best.

I'll be backing Il Paradiso, Finche and Surprise Baby, with a saver on Prince Of Arran. Will be monitoring the price on Constantinople.

1st (20) IL PARADISO $14

2nd (11) FINCHE $8.00

3rd (12) PRINCE OF ARRAN $19

4th (18) SURPRISE BABY $15

5th (19) CONSTANTINOPLE $10

6th (23) VOW AND DECLARE $12


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