Melbourne Cup fever

DO you know of any other city in the world that has a holiday for a horse race?

Bula from the land Down Under and the home of the Melbourne Cup.

Yes, it’s a holiday here in Melbourne and cup fever is bristling in the air as our fare city welcomes thousands of visitors for what’s now become an iconic Spring Racing Carnival event.

1993 was the first time an overseas raider from Europe graced the hallowed turf of Flemington and Vintage Crop stole the Australian crown of racing. The Melbourne Cup has never been the same since as the international raiders now make up more than three quarters of the field in what’s going to be a humdinger of a race.

The competition is fierce – not just between the horses but between the trainers as well. In 2015 Michelle Payne was the last jockey able to snatch the crown away from the internationals when she won the history making ride on Price of Penzance.

The 3-year-old Rekindling did it for young trainer Joseph O’Brien last year.

This year, there are horses from Europe, Japan, New Zealand including local Australian hopefuls vying for the coveted crown.

Trying to peg down a winner is never easy in the cup because it’s a handicap race with so many chances that it’s simply mind boggling!

There’s a saying that betting’s a mug’s game. I have to agree. However, we’ll all be mugs for a day and if we happen to snag the winner because we like the name, number, the jockey, trainer, the colours or the country it comes from, then enjoy being a mug for a day! So which horse is going to carry away the cup?

If you’re a serious punter than you’ve most probably been studying the form guide and watching all the different runs of the various cup contenders.

I must confess, so have I. And I still can’t, for the life of me, hone down my selection to just one horse.

However, having said this, there are a few horses that are beginning to stand out. Magic Circle and Yucatan have standout forms although Yucatan hasn’t run the 3200 metre distance before.

But Yucatan’s sizzling winning run in the Herbert Power suggests he’ll get the distance. Jockey Jamie McDonald pulled Yucatan back into an almost canter about 50 metres from the winning post and said that the horse still had plenty left in the “tank”.

What will be against Yucatan winning is his barrier draw of 23 and the extra distance he’ll have to cover coming to and settling near the rails.

Then there’s Magic Circle.

His jockey Corey Brown made the decision to ride this horse 10 weeks ago and can’t wait to get on board. Magic Circle has run 3200 metres and beyond and has got the runs on board to be a serious threat to Yucatan.

Also drawn fairly wide at barrier 17, Magic Circle will have to race across the Flemington track just like Yucatan from Barrier 23 to be well positioned for the dash to the cash. Magic Circle is carrying a paltry 56kgs and is used to carrying far more in weights racing in Europe.

From the land of the rising sun is Chestnut Coat who came 5th in a similar race to the Melbourne Cup in Japan and will be running on strongly.

He’s run the distance in a very strong company of horses and while his run here has been dismal, he can’t be left out of the contentions because the Japanese are well known for samurai steely disciplines in preparing their horses.

The only mare in the race is Australian hopeful, Youngstar which ran a huge race against Winx in the Turnbull Stakes and then followed up with a great run in the Caulfield Cup where she ran a credible 7th.

Carrying only 51.5kgs she could sneak a win or a place. Marmelo, the English stayer, ran a strong 9th in the Melbourne Cup last year.

His jockey, Jamie Bowman, has elected to ride him again which says a lot about his chances.

There are three or four lightly weighted horses that could also either win or run a place. Cross Counter has had the same preparation as last year’s winner, Rekindling.

New Zealander, Zacada, ran a credible 2nd to Who Shot the Barman in the 3200 metre Sydney Cup this year and his pedigree suggests that he has the breeding to win.
And speaking of old-timers, Who Shot The Barman, the 10-year-old campaigner could be the surprise package.

It’s going to be about 19-20 degrees Celsius with showers and possible rain predicted for Melbourne Cup day.

And rain, hail or shine – nothing will take the shine away from the colour, the excitement and enthusiasm people have for this amazing spectacle that brings people from all over the world to Melbourne.

And if it does rain, the light weight chances will definitely come into strong contention.

The softer track with the sting out of the ground will also aid the European stayers. With all of this in mind, here are my final selections:
1. Magic Circle
2. Chestnut Coat
3. Yucatan
4. Cross Counter

In my Trifectas I’m also going to include: Zacada, Youngstar, Marmelo, Avilius, Muntahaa and Who Shot the Barman.

However –– win, lose or draw, remember what I said earlier about betting being a mug’s game. And that should read with a capital “M” – which coincidentally could be the winning initial for the “M”elbourne Cup winner!

Good luck – happy punting and hope you’re celebrating at the end of the race!


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