The one race millions of Australians put some of their hard earned on each year is generally the most difficult in which to pick the winner – and tomorrow’s Melbourne Cup will be no exception.
The Cup is over a testing 3,200 metres (which usually sorts the men from the boys or the women from the girls) and it is one race where there are usually a number of genuine overseas contenders, making it difficult to line up the form. Those factors have to be taken into account tomorrow.
But you can add a couple of other factors to make picking the Cup winner even more difficult. The weekend rain in Melbourne has sent the form experts scurrying for the wet track credentials of the overseas contenders and they are not much the wiser because most of the overseas horses don’t have much wet track form that can be relied on.
But tomorrow will also be the first time the new Flemington track will be “rain affected” on race day. I thought the surface raced much more evenly on Saturday, but we don’t know how it will race when rain affected – or even how “rain affected” the track will be given that part of the reason for total reconstruction was to give it a better all weather surface.
After all that it is any wonder many one day punters looks for “omens” to place their bets – numbers, names and colours etc. If you are into numbers, then you will have to consider Maybe Better – he is number 7, has drawn barrier 7, and was placed no 7 at his last start. If jockey Cory Brown comes out wearing a “Kevin 07” T shirt then get on! And then double the bet!
But putting aside the omens, I have come up with the Lloyd Williams-owned Zipping. He comes into the race with the best form, apart from the favourite, Master O’Reilly. Zipping ran fourth in the Cup last year, so the distance won’t be a problem. His Cox Plate and Mackinnon stakes runs have been near perfect preparations for the big one. And, importantly, a wet track will be in his favour.
You have to throw in the favourite, Master O’Reilly. In recent years, the Caulfield Cup has been a good guide to the Melbourne Cup – and Master O’Reilly won this year’s Caulfield Cup in fine style. He has sound wet track form. And perhaps even more importantly he has won on the new Flemington surface. The distance should be right up his alley. No wonder he is the favourite!
You have to look seriously at a couple of the overseas contenders. Mahler, carrying saddle cloth 24 is at the bottom of the weights, but don’t be put off by that. He was second in the UK St Ledger, a tough stayers’ race, and has won over the Cup distance – but he will prefer a dry surface. Purple Moon is a definite chance with a first and a second over the distance and good UK form, and an eye catching sixth in the Caulfield Cup.
But any assessment of the Melbourne Cup would be incomplete and inadequate without a comment on the “Cups king” himself, Bart Cummings. On Saturday his cup contender Sirmione scored in one of the lead up races to the Cup, the LKS Mackinnon Stakes, at 60/1! Bart Cummings is surely the greatest trainer we have produced, and a cup win by Sirmoine tomorrow cannot be ruled out. Put him in your trifectas, quinellas etc.
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And what a great 80th birthday present it would be for Bart. But sadly, neither Simione or the other 23 contenders know he is about to reach four score years in a week or so.
For my money its Zipping, to give Lloyd Williams his third cup win. Good luck – you might need it.