The 2017 Melbourne Cup is finally here and 24 of the best stayers in the world are set to contest ‘the race that stops a nation’ at Flemington on Tuesday.
There are always plenty of winning chances in the Melbourne Cup and this is a particularly tough edition of the race for punters as there are a variety of different form lines set to converge in the Group 1 event.
We have analysed every single horse in the 2017 Melbourne Cup field and our complete Melbourne Cup tips can be found below.
Hartnell finished a gallant third behind Almandin and Heartbreak City in the Melbourne Cup 12 months ago, but it is fair to say that his lead-up form has not been as impressive. He started his campaign with an excellent win in the P.B. Lawrence Stakes and he wasn’t disgraced in either the Makybe Diva Stakes or the Underwood Stakes, but it all when pear-shaped in the Ladbrokes Stakes. He did have genuine excuses and he is going better than that performance suggests, but James Cummings has changed his plans with the import a number of times this preparation and he has never run out a strong 3200 metres in Australia. In saying that, you are getting $26 and that is probably over the odds for a horse that at his best is the class horse in this field.
Almandin won the Melbourne Cup 12 months ago and he has the chance to become the first horse since Makybe Diva to defend his title. Winning the Melbourne Cup two years in a row is far from easy and it does take a special horse to do so. Almandin looked like he was right on track for the Melbourne Cup when he cruised to an outstanding victory in the JRA Trophy at Flemington on September 16, but he was beaten as a short-priced favourite in The Bart Cummings. There is no doubt that he is an excellent stayer and you can never rule out the Macedon Lodge team of Lloyd Williams, but I can’t get him as short as his current price.
Humidor is the talk of the racing world after he gave Winx a genuine race in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate and his presence adds plenty of excitement to the 2017 Melbourne Cup field. It has been an unusual preparation for Humidor. He could not have been more impressive when he won the Makybe Diva Stakes, but he was disappointing in the Turnbull Stakes and did plenty wrong in the Caulfield Cup. It is a big ask to run in the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup in the same year and this could be an afterthought. Humidor is a very talented horse and he could very well come out and blow them away in the Melbourne Cup, but he has had a tough campaign and I have my doubts over his ability to run out a strong 3200 metres. He is another horse that I am keen to take on at his current price.
Tiberian is one of the value runners at $21 and he has a genuine chance to become the first international horse since Vintage Crop in 1993 to win the Melbourne Cup without having a lead-up run in Australia. He has recorded four wins from his past five starts and he heads into the Melbourne Cup on the back of a career best victory in the Grand Prix De Deauville in France. Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock have an excellent record with their imported horses in races like the Melbourne Cup and they were only denied with Heartbreak City 12 months ago. Tiberian will have no trouble running out a strong 3200 metres and I think that he will be in the finish.
Marmelo is the horse to beat in the 2017 Melbourne Cup. He produced the fastest closing sectionals of the race in the Caulfield Cup and that was the exact type of performance that you want to see from a horse heading into the Melbourne Cup. Before being sent to Australia he won the Prix Kergorlay in France – the same race that was won by both Americain and Protectionist before they went on to win the Melbourne Cup. He maps to get a lovely run into the race with Hugh Bowman in the saddle and he can outstay his rivals to record the biggest win of his racing career.
Red Cardinal is one of the most interesting horses in the 2017 Melbourne Cup field. He went to the top of Melbourne Cup betting after he won the Comer Group International in Germany and the Belmont Gold Cup in the United States, but he was handily beaten by Marmelo in the Prix Kergorlay. You have to respect the connection of Red Cardinal as they have done it before with Protectionist, but Red Cardinal has been a touch overrated and I can’t get him as short as his current quote.
Johannes Vermeer was unlucky not to win the Caulfield Cup and he has been kept very safe in Melbourne Cup betting markets. The query for Johannes Vermeer is definitely the distance and in Europe he has generally been considered a 2000 metre horse. He does have plenty of brilliance and he has done nothing wrong since arriving in Australia, but I am neutral on him at his current price.
Bondi Beach is back for a third tilt at the Melbourne Cup. There was plenty of hype surrounding him when he finished 16th in the Melbourne Cup in 2015 and he only narrowly improved on that effort last year. He was very poor in The Bart Cummings – he finished 11 lengths behind Amelie’s Star – and it is impossible to back him in the Melbourne Cup off that performance.
Max Dynamite was brilliant when he finished second behind Prince Of Penzance in the 2015 Melbourne Cup and he is back for another crack at the race. He failed to fire in his two race starts last year and he has only had the two starts in 2017, which was highlighted by a comfortable win in a very weak race in Ireland. It is very tough to get a read on him as he hasn’t really been tested in this sort of company recently and there are too many unknowns to back him with any real confidence.
Ventura Storm went into the Caulfield Cup as a genuine chance following his second place finish behind Winx in the Turnbull Stakes, but he was fairly disappointing in the Caulfield Cup and he was one of the first horses beaten. He pulled up from the Caulfield Cup with an issue – a potential hoof abscess – and that is not ideal heading into the Melbourne Cup. I don’t think he is as good a stayer as some of the other internationals.
Wicklow Brave is back for another shot at the Melbourne Cup after Frankie Dettori set him an impossible task last year and there is no fitter horse in this race. He could finish no better than 12th in the Caulfield Cup, but that run was better than it looked on paper. It would not surprise to see him press forward in the early stages of the Melbourne Cup in an attempt to turn it into a genuine staying trip. If he does that he could run better than his odds suggest.
Who Shot Thebarman
Who Shot Thebarman is back for a fourth tilt at the Melbourne Cup after finishing third in 2014, a luckless 11th in 2015 and fifth in 2016. The veteran stayer absolutely loves the 3200 metres course at Flemington and he heads into the Melbourne Cup on the back of a very impressive victory in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup. Running out the trip will not be an issue and although I would be surprised if he is able to win he is a safe bet to claim his third top ten finish.
Update: Who Shot Thebarman has been scratched from the 2017 Melbourne Cup after he was found with an elevated temperature on Sunday afternoon.
Big Duke could be the best roughie in the 2017 Melbourne Cup field. He finished a gallant second in The Metropolitan and he won the ATC St Leger in impressive fashion before he had genuine excuses in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup. I am willing to put the pen through that performance completely as he clearly didn’t handle The Valley and Flemington is a much better track for him. Trainer Darren Weir is sure to have him peaking on the big day and he does have a similar profile to 2015 Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance. He can sneak into the placings at a nice price.
US Army Ranger
US Army Ranger is set to be one of two Melbourne Cup runners for young trainer Joseph O’Brien. US Army Ranger finished second behind Harzand in the 2016 Epsom Derby and there was plenty expected of him, but he hasn’t really gone on with the job. He has not recorded a race win since May 2016 and he goes into the Melbourne Cup on the back of a very poor effort in the Enterprise Stakes. I couldn’t possibly have him in a race of this quality.
Boom Time may have won the Caulfield Cup, but he will still go into the 2017 Melbourne Cup as a $26 chance. There was plenty of merit in his Caulfield Cup and it was easily the highest-rating performance of his career, but the question is whether he can replicate that effort. He is a tough stayer that rarely produces a poor effort, but I think that the Caulfield Cup may have been his one day in the sun.
Gallante won the 2016 Sydney Cup over 3200 metres, but he hasn’t really looked like winning a race since. He ran poorly in the Melbourne Cup 12 months ago, he failed to beat home a runner in the Naturalism Stakes and he was one of the first horses beaten in a weak edition of the Geelong Cup. He deserves to be the extreme outside of this field.
Libran has returned to his best form during the 2017 Spring Racing Carnival and he will make his Melbourne Cup debut. He finished a nice second in the 2016 Sydney Cup – his only previous start over 3200 metres – and he ran well in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup last start, but he is still probably below the level that is required to win a race with the quality of the Melbourne Cup.
Naeeta is a consistent stayer that earnt a start in the Melbourne Cup following a narrow win in the Ebor Handicap – a race that is similar in a number of ways to the Melbourne Cup. The Ebor Handicap has never really proven to be a particularly strong form race for the Melbourne Cup and Nakeeta is another horse that may not have the class that is required to win a Melbourne Cup.
What a ripping mare Single Gaze has been and she will join the small group of horses that have contested both a Golden Slipper and a Melbourne – the last horse to do so was Criterion and he finished third in the 2015 Melbourne Cup. Single Gaze has improved each time that she has been seen at the races this preparation and she looked like the winner before Boom Time appeared late in the Caulfield Cup. She simply doesn’t run a bad race and she is as tough as they come. There is nothing in her breeding to suggest that she will run 3200 metres, but she has been able to defy her pedigree throughout her career. I don’t have her among the leading winning chances, but there is no reason that she can’t run well on the big stage once again.
Wall Of Fire
Wall Of Fire is one of the leading contenders in the 2017 Melbourne Cup and the best lightweight chance in the race. Wall Of Fire had raced well without winning during his 2017 racing campaign in Europe – highlighted by a second place finish in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes – and he made his Australian racing debut with a fast-finishing second in the Ladbrokes Herbert Power Stakes. The form coming out of that race has been very strong and it was a similar performance to that of 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist in the same race. He has no weight on his back and he has the turn-of-foot that is required to win the Melbourne Cup.
Thomas Hobson looked set to miss a start in the 2017 Melbourne Cup, but the removal of Jon Snow means that he will get a start in ‘the race that stops a nation’. Thomas Hobson won the Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot before he finished second in the Queen Alexandra Stakes and he was sent to Melbourne after a second place finish in the Doncaster Cup. He is a tough stayer and the query is whether he has enough explosiveness to win a Melbourne Cup. Joao Moreira is in the saddle and he will need to ensure he makes his run a long way from home if Thomas Hobson is going to be any chance.
Rekindling is the latest Northern Hemisphere three-year-old to be sent to Australia for the Melbourne Cup. He finished a gallant fourth in the St Leger Stakes at Doncaster in September and he is a lightly-raced horse that does still have plenty of upside. He would need to improve significantly to be a genuine chance in the Melbourne Cup, but he does have more upside than the majority of the other international horses in this field.
Amelie’s Star has always been a stayer that has promised plenty and she has been able to deliver on that potential this preparation. It took her a while to reach peak fitness, but she earnt ballot-exempt entry into the Melbourne Cup with an excellent victory in The Bart Cummings. She was ridden against her pattern in the Caulfield Cup and faded late, but I am happy to put the line through that effort. She is racing well and can run a solid race, but I’m not sure that she is good enough to win.
Cismontane was beaten in a benchmark 78 race at Flemington in August and he is now set to run in the Melbourne Cup. He showed that he was capable of measuring up at Stakes level when he finished a courageous third in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup on Ladbrokes Cox Plate Day and you won’t see a tougher performance than what he produced to win the Lexus Stakes. He will take up the running in the early stages of the 2017 Melbourne Cup and he is a horse that I am keen to back in top ten betting markets.