Well the day has finally arrived and once again the race that stops the nation will take place on Tuesday afternoon at Flemington. I’ve gone over the race and have come up with my thoughts on how it will all pan out. Read on as I cover off the key runners who I think have a strong chance as well as my key bets for Australia’s greatest race.
Remember, Before You Bet has plenty of racing content coming up in Melbourne Cup week, with articles scheduled on Thursday and Saturday as well! Be sure to check our Horse Racing Tips page regularly for updates. If that's not enough content for you, you can check out our dedicated racing website RacingBet.com.au for full meet previews every day this week.
2021 Melbourne Cup Preview & Betting Tips
Here’s my thoughts on the key runners for the Melbourne Cup in 2021:
It’s been a big build up yet again with the excitement machine that is Incentivise headlining the market, and looks set to jump the shortest priced Cup favourite since Phar Lap! This horse is a deadset freak of nature. That win in the Caulfield Cup last start was as good as you’ll see anywhere in the world. Genuinely the only question mark is him running out a strong 3200m but the way travelled through the line over 2400 tells me he’s going to eat it up. Dry, hot and fast conditions will only help his chances and I’m pretty confident he just wins again. He’s conquered all before him so far since coming South and this just looks another feather in his cap in what would be a truly great racing story.
As has been well reported, the likes of Covid as well as the new rules and regulations regarding overseas horses, has reduced the usual number of international runners this year. With that being said we might see arguably the best overseas horse to contest this race when Spanish Mission steps out as the clear second favourite on Tuesday. He has form around the absolute elite stayers over in the UK and pushed the champion Stradivarius all the way in his most recent start. The obvious question marks remain over his fitness and he’s had to undergo a number of vet checks to be passed fit to run. That’s a far from ideal lead up but you can’t count him out.
Aside from Spanish Mission there are two interesting runners from the UK who I’m also giving some chance to. Sir Lucan fits the perfect profile to run well in this race. He’s a lightly-raced 4yo who's only had a handful of starts and he gets well down in the weights. You go back through some of his from back home and he finished a couple lengths off Mishriff in a strong Group 1 and I just think he has a bit of upside about him. He can obviously mix his form but if he brings his A-game I wouldn’t be shocked to see him run into the top 3 or 4.
The other UK raider that will run well is reigning Melbourne Cup Champion Twilight Payment. He won this race last year ahead of Tiger Moth and his prep leading into this year’s race has been just as good - if not better than last year. You can also argue that this year looks a weaker overall field than the one he finished ahead of last year so on that basis alone he has to be respected. The slight knocks are the big rise in weight as he jumps to 58kg this year following just the 53kg he carrer last year. No horse has carried that sort of weight since the great Makybe Diva so he has history stacked against him. He’s also now a 9yo and they’ve never won this race either. With all that being said Joseph O’Brien is an absolute gun at getting his horses right for the big occasion and you’d be silly to write this guy off.
Going off recent starts this Spring, it’s hard to see any of the Australian trained horses being able to take it to Incentivise but you must be wary of a few of them. I think the likes of Verry Elleegant, Delphi, Floating Artist and Persan can all be big improvers in the race and they are a must-have in all trifectas and first fours.
Delphi looks the best value chance in the race and I think you have to be forgiving for his Caulfield Cup fail. His win two back in the Herbert Power was great and he gets back onto a dry track here today which looks a massive positive. He drops a stack in weight, gets Oliver on and draws very nicely in barrier 3. I think he’ll improve massively today and I’d be backing him to run top 5 and also to run a place.
I touched on Verry Elleegant earlier and I think she’s ready to run a massive race here. She was arguably the run of the race in the Cox Plate and I think Waller has her right on track to go well again. She was extremely good in this race last year and I just think if she can find some of her best form, she’s one who can take it to Incentivise.
Floating Artist is the new kid on the block and he’s been pretty unlucky in his last couple. You don’t need me to tell you he was a certainty beat last start and he is deadset flying this prep. Gets way down in the weights at 50kg and I think this horse has some X-factor about him. The stable are deadly when it comes to these staying races and he will be absolutely primed to run well here.
Persan looks the best blowout chance for mine and if you're looking for a good roughie to back to run top 5 or even top 10 then I think he looks a pretty handy bet. Was a huge run last year to finish 5th after beginning that prep in maiden grade so I think he’s a more seasoned horse this time around. The Caulfield Cup run was good and just like his stablemate above, he will be ready to put up a peak performance this time in.
All in all it’s going to be yet another cracking installment of Australia’s most famous race and while some may argue it’s a pretty long tail this year, you’ve got to remember that anything can happen in this race. Favourites have a shocking overall record and there looks a heap of value chances to pump up the exotics. I think Incentivise could be different gravy to a lot of favourites we’ve seen in the Cup previously however and barring major issues, he should cap off one of the best stories in Australian sports history.
Best Bet: (2) Incentivise WIN ($2.80 at Sportsbet)
Best Value: (7) Delphi EACH WAY ($17/$4.80) (24) Sir Lucan EACH WAY ($23/6.50)
Top 5 Bets: (22) Floating Artist ($4.20) (24) Sir Lucan ($4.20) (12) Persan ($3.25)
Top 10 Bets: (14) Master Of Wine ($4.00) (8) Ocean Billy ($2.80)
Top Four Prediction:
2nd Sir Lucan
4th Spanish Mission
(2) Incentivise WIN