Melbourne Cup:

2019

Flemington, VIC / 3200m / Race 7
Tuesday, November 5 at 3:00pm

Melbourne Cup:

STATISTICS

The Betting:

Knowledge & Insight

When Prince of Penzance saluted at $101 in 2015, he became the fourth Cup winner to start at triple figure odds (100/1). The first was The Pearl in 1871 who defied a protest from the 3/1 Romula.

In 1936, and despite being the longest-priced runner in the field of 20, Wotan came off a tenth in the Cox Plate to delight the bookies, then 4 years later Old Rowley caused another shock result, rolling home at 100s after an inglorious seventh in the Hotham Hcp.

Favourites have had a pretty ordinary run since Makybe Diva won her third Cup in 2005 as $4.40f – Fiorente (2013) at $7 the only favourite to salute since 2005.

Worth noting that an International visitor has been despatched as favourite (or co-favourite) on 10 occasions since the first raiders arrived in 1993. All have finished down the track except for 2006 runner-up Pop Rock.

Form Focus Verdict

Over the last 20 years, the middle-bracket of the Melbourne Cup betting market has produced the best return profit-wise with 13 of the 20 winners priced from $8 (7/1) to $21 (20/1).

At this point in 2019, horses in this price sector are Cross Counter, Southern France, Latrobe, Mustajeer, Finche, Prince of Arran, Raymond Tusk, Downdraft, Surprise Baby, Constantinople, Il Paradiso & Vow and Declare.

By race-time on Tuesday, this will have sorted itself out with the track condition influencing what will be the shorteners or the drifters.

Of this group, FORM FOCUS considers the value runners are Latrobe, Prince of Arran, Raymond Tusk & Surprise Baby.

BARRIER POSITIONS:

Knowledge & Insight

Mechanised barrier stalls were first used for the Melbourne Cup in 1958 and the statistics on most popular or unpopular winning gates reveals that perhaps drawing close to the rails is no significant advantage.

Gates 1 & 2 have supplied just 4 winners in the 61 runnings, the most recent of those being Prince of Penzance (Gate 1-2015) & Might and Power (Gate 2-1997).

Barrier 6 is on a lengthy drought (54 years), Light Fingers (1965) being the most recent winner from gate 6. Barrier 15 similarly is on a run of outs with Silver Knight (1971) being the last winner from that draw.

Poor old gate 12 lands the hoodoo card with zero wins since 1958. Foxzami came from that position to land the 1949 Melbourne Cup and over the past 20 years, barrier 12 has figured in the placings on just 2 occasions – Hartnell third in Who Shot Thebarman in 2014.

The most successful Cup gate since 1958 is 11 with seven wins.

Form Focus Verdict

From 2000 to 2018 (inclusive), Melbourne Cup results indicate a marginal advantage to horses drawn 1-12 with 11 wins, 12 seconds & 12 thirds emerging from this sector.

From gates 13 to 24, the result is a slightly inferior 8 wins, 7 seconds & 7 thirds with winners Cross Counter (19), Shocking (21) & Brew (22) starting from the extreme bank of gates 19-24.

A consistent theme with all three are that they carried light weights (49kg to 51kg) and were in the mid-bracket of the betting market, all priced from a low of $9 (Cross Counter) to a high of $15 (Brew).

If we apply this criteria to the horses drawn 19-24 in this year’s Cup, we find positive signs for Vow and Declare, drawn 21 with 52kg and $12 in current markets.

AGE AND SEX:

Knowledge & Insight

While the first 80 years of the Melbourne Cup (1861-1941) were predominantly the domain of the 3yo (25% of winners), the following four decades (1942-1982) witnessed a 4yo dominatione (43.9% of winners).

Since 1983, (36 runnings), 4yos have won the Cup on 9 occasions with the past 2 Cup winners being technically three by NH time.

From 2002 to 2018 (17 Cups), the vast majority of Melbourne Cup winners have been bred in the Northern Hemisphere (13).

The 2019 Melbourne Cup field will be dominated by this feature yet again, and it’s also interesting to note that over the past five years, only one Cup winner bred to NH time and trained locally (from 41 starters) has won the Cup – Almandin (2016).

Form Focus Verdict

The modern-day Melbourne Cup continues to evolve, the past two runnings indicating that youth and inexperience is hardly a negative anymore.

Last year, Cross Counter was having just his eighth career start, 12 months earlier we witnessed Rekindling winning the Cup on his tenth career start.

Both 3yos by Northern Hemisphere time, lightly-weighted and still developing, the trend could easily continue in 2019 with Constantinople (9 starts) & Il Paradiso (8 starts).

In 2016, Almandin (7yo) won the Cup on just his eleventh career start, while Protectionist (5yo) was having just his tenth start. In Fiorente (6yo) was having his tenth start when runner-up to Green Moon, and the year before, Lucas Cranach (third) was having his eleventh start.

Older horses this year who hold this favourable lightly-raced profile (15 starts or less) are Cross Counter, Master of Reality, Southern France, Latrobe, Finche, Raymond Tusk, Neufbosc, Surprise Baby & Vow and Declare.

The WEIGHTS:

Knowledge & Insight

One of the key elements in analysis on the Cup is the relativity in the weights and, more relevantly, how do the best-performed horses fare at the head of the weights.

The facts are that a weight above 56.5kg (since metrics were introduced in 1972), is a significant challenge.

In the 47 runnings of the Cup under the metric scale, only 3 horses have won with 57kgs or more.

Think Big (1975) completed a historic back-to-back Cup victory under 58.5kg, then two years later, Gold and Black (1977) carried 57kg to victory after being runner-up with 50kg a year earlier.

28 years went by until Makybe Diva (58kg-2005) became the first horse to win three Melbourne Cups.

Records show that a further 74 horses have carried 57kg (or more) in the 47 Cups conducted from 1972 to 2018. Of these, there have been 5 seconds and 5 thirds, the remaining 64 all missing a place.

The challenge confronting 2018 winner Cross Counter is possibly balanced by the fact that this is the first time that a Northern Hemisphere-bred Cup winning raider has returned as a 5yo (by Southern Hemisphere time).

Form Focus Verdict

With a minimum weight of 52kg and only a 5.5kg weight spread from top to bottom, on paper, the Cup field looks hugely competitive.

2014 winner Protectionist carried 56.5kg to his 2014 Cup victory, the only time a horse weighted above 55.5kg has won the Cup since Delta Blues (56kg) won in 2006.

At the head of the weights this year we have 2018 Cup winner Cross Counter (57.5kg) and Caulfield Cup winner Mer de Glace (56kg).

An overall total of 99 Caulfield Cup winners have advanced to the Melbourne Cup. Eleven have done the double, the most recent being Ethereal in 2001, and since 2001, a total of 11 Caulfield Cup winners have gone to the Cup with all missing a place. Not a positive sign where Mer de Glace is concerned.

Over the past 60 years, 27 Melbourne Cup winners have returned for a tilt at back-to-back glory, Makybe Diva accomplishing the feat twice, first in 2004 and secondly in 2005. Rain Lover (1968-1969) & Think Big (1974-1975) also did the big double. However, of the remaining 23 Cup winners, only one landed a placing and that was Light Fingers (second in 1965).

MELBOURNE CUP:

FORM PROFILE

LEAD UP FORM:

Knowledge & Insight

Historically speaking, the Caulfield Cup was always regarded as the most reliable form reference heading to the Melbourne Cup. How times have changed.

Viewed in 2008 is the most recent Melbourne Cup winner to contest the Caulfield Cup (he then ran in the Mackinnon on Derby Day), whereas no less than 10 Melbourne Cup winners had contested the Caulfield Cup between the years 1991 and 2006.

From 2009 to 2018 (10 years), a total of 82 horses that have contested the Caulfield Cup progressed to that year’s edition of the Melbourne Cup.

FORM FOCUS research shows that 14 of the 82 improved their relative finish position from the Caulfield Cup to the Melbourne Cup with the best return being Johannes Vermeer-2017 going from third to second.

Other improvers were Who Shot Thebarman-2014 going from fourteenth to third, Jakkalberry-2012 going from thirteenth to third & Lucas Cranach-2011 going from fifth to third.

Form Focus Verdict

Only 2 of the past 20 Cup winners have finished worse than sixth in their final lead-up run, Viewed in 2008 coming out of the Mackinnon and Efficient in 2007 out of the Cox Plate – both Group One WFA events.

In 2019, we have Rostropovich, Twilight Payment, Neufbosc, Sound & Steel Prince all coming off a below-par (worse than sixth) last start – not a great indicator for a forward Cup performance.

Studying the International influence on the Cup over the past 2 decades, the visitors have had a considerable impact, with 2 wins, 10 seconds and 6 thirds going to a horse who last raced overseas.

The Hotham Handicap winner has appeared in the placings three times over the past decade, Shocking (2009) doing the double, Maluckyday (second in 2010) and Prince of Arran (third in 2018).

JOCKEY:

Knowledge & Insight

A stellar year in the saddle for Frankie Dettori could be capped off with the ultimate prize, one that has eluded him since he first rode Drum Taps in the 1993 Melbourne Cup.

Dettori has ridden in Australia’s most famous race now on 16 occasions, running second on Central Park (1999) & Max Dynamite (2015). The Cup is a thorn in Dettori’s side, but he is by no means the only jockey to find the race an aggravation.

Two of Australia’s finest ever riders in Scobie Breasley and George Moore, found the Melbourne Cup more than a little annoying.

In 17 Cup rides, Breasley registered two seconds and one third, while Moore’s Melbourne Cup record was even more disheartening – one third from 19 mounts.

Co-record holders with 4 wins are Bobby Lewis (33 rides) and Harry White (24 rides), Lewis’s wins spanning a quarter of a century (1902 to 1927), while White piloted his quartet between 1974 and 1979.

Seven jockeys are tied on 3 wins – Jim Johnson, Bill McLachlan, Darby Munro, Jack Purtell plus 3 of our current riders in Damien Oliver, Kerrin McEvoy & Glen Boss.

Oliver lines up for Cup ride number 29, McEvoy rides in his seventeenth Cup while Glen Boss rides in Cup number 16.

Form Focus Verdict

Riding in his sixteenth Cup, (he’s had just one third placing, Mount Athos) Craig Williams on Vow and Declare has a terrific opportunity to become the eighth jockey to complete the “Grand Slam” – Golden Slipper, Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup & Melbourne Cup.

Williams has won the Slipper on Miss Finland (2006), Cox Plate (Pinker Pinker-2011, Fields of Omagh-2006) & Caulfield Cup (Southern Speed-2011, Dunaden-2012).

He’ll join Neville Sellwood, Roy Higgins, Pat Hyland, Chris Munce, Jim Cassidy, Damien Oliver & Mick Dittman in this “grand-slam Club” should Vow and Declare triumph.

Riding in his fifth Cup, Damian Lane also can achieve this feat on Mer de Glace. However, he would become the first ever to achieve the grand-slam in the one calendar year, and for good measure, also become the only jockey to ride the winners of the Caulfield Cup-Cox Plate-Melbourne Cup treble.

TRAINER:

Knowledge & Insight

The Bart Cummings Melbourne Cup phenomenon commenced in 1965 with stable-mates Light Fingers and Ziema hitting the line together, Roy Higgins on Light Fingers getting the photo and giving Cummings the quinella.

Cummings delivered the quinella again in 1966 with Galilee taking the Caulfield Cup-Melbourne Cup double and easily defeating 1965 winner Light Fingers. Twelve months later, Cummings became the first trainer in Cup history to prepare three Cup winners in a row when Red Handed gave Roy Higgins a second Cup victory.

With Think Big (1974-1975), Cummings drew level with record-holder Etienne De Mestre on five Cup wins, the 1974 Cup another quinella for Cummings (Leilani second). Gold and Black (1977) gave Cummings the record, then Hyperno (1979) delivered a seventh Melbourne Cup win in 15 years.

Eleven years would pass before win 8 (Kingston Rule-1990), then another quinella in 1991 (Let’s Elope and Shiva’s Revenge), made it 9 Cups. Saintly (1996) was one of his easiest winners, then Rogan Josh (1999) and Viewed (2008) made it a dozen Melbourne Cup victories – a record unlikely to be surpassed.

Between 1989 and 2005, Lee Freedman prepared five Cup winners (including Makybe Diva in 2004 and 2005), and is now equal second with De Mestre behind Cummings as the Melbourne Cup training record-holder.

The training powerhouse that is Chris Waller is yet to land a Melbourne Cup (one third from 17 runners), while the master of Ballydoyle Aidan O’Brien has had a total of 12 Cup starters for 1 second (Johannes Vermeer-2017) & 1 third (Mahler-2007).

Form Focus Verdict

The Lindsay Park training yard (Hayes, Hayes & Dabernig) has 3 imports going to the Cup, two longshot outsiders (Rostropovich & Neufbosc) and highly fancied Constantinople. David Hayes has had 30 starters in the Cup for one winner (Jeune-1994) & one third (Criterion-2015), while his late father Colin registered two Cup victories (Beldale Ball-1980, At Talaq-1986).

Danny O’Brien’s association with the Cup has been a dismal one so far with 10 starters for zero wins and placings. O’Brien has approached the 2019 Cup with Vow and Declare in a highly unconventional way, going in to the Cup on what is essentially a two run campaign.

Not since 1923 has a locally trained horse been successful in the Cup off a campaign of less than three lead in starts. James Scobie, (successful in 100 VRC Carnival races, second only to Bart Cummings), prepared Bitalli to win the 1923 Melbourne Cup off a 101 day break, the punting public evidently unperturbed by this fact, sending the horse out a well backed 4/1 favourite.

HORSE:

Knowledge & Insight

Profiling the past 11 Melbourne Cup (2008-2018) winners and examining their credentials at weights release stage reveals one consistent feature – none of the 11 had been successful in a Group 1 event.

This suggests perhaps two things – the horse was still developing, examples being the past two winners Cross Counter & Rekindling or possibly that the horse was a notch below true G1 level and found the Melbourne Cup (a 2 mile handicap) pretty much a perfect fit, e.g., Dunaden, Americain.

There are just 4 Group 1 winners left in the Cup – 2018 Cup hero Cross Counter, 2019 Caulfield Cup winner Mer de Glace and 2018 Irish Derby winner Latrobe & Youngstar.

Local Vow and Declare has notched two seconds and a fourth in his only 3 attempts at G1 level, his second in the Caulfield Cup putting him alongside Acrasia (1904), Apologue (1907), Rainbird (1945), Hiraji (1947), Wodalla (1953), Evening Peal (1956), Lord Fury (1961), Red Handed (1967), Gala Supreme (1973), Arwon (1978), At Talaq (1986) & Makybe Diva (2004) as horses to place second in the Caulfield Cup prior to Melbourne Cup victory.

Form Focus Verdict

Four of the first five home in the 2018 Melbourne Cup renew their battle in 2019, FORM FOCUS research unlocking some interesting facts regarding horses contesting consecutive Cups in the modern era.

Since 1960, 24 Melbourne Cup winners have progressed to the following year for 4 wins, 1 second & 19 unplaced, Cross Counter aiming to improve this stat.

A total 17 runners-up have progressed to the following year for 3 wins, 1 second & 13 unplaced, Marmelo denied his chance this year due to a negative vet inspection last week.

Third-placed horses (Prince of Arran this year) have only gone to next year’s Cup on just 9 occasions (one second) while fourth placed horses (Finche), have had 17 tries for 2 seconds and a third. The fifth placegetter (Rostropovich) has had 12 attempts for one second and a third.

MELBOURNE CUP:

TOP THREE

Form Focus Verdict

Fifteen of the 24 Melbourne Cup final acceptors have travelled from the North this Spring, the race continuing to attract some of the world’s finest stayers.

With form from the Ascot Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup, Irish St Leger, English St Leger and the Ebor Handicap, one has key references to some of the best stayers in Europe, the benchmark horses being Stradivarius & Kew Gardens.

Blend this concoction with the Caulfield, Moonee Valley, Geelong Cup form, along with the Hotham, Herbert Power, Cox Plate & Turnbull references and there can be no argument – this is a hugely deep Melbourne Cup.

One traveller who clearly enjoys his working holidays in Australia is PRINCE OF ARRAN. In the Geelong Cup, and requiring a penalty to ensure a start in the Cup, he carried 58kg, worked across early, did the donkey work chasing the leader and then recorded a fast time in victory. PRINCE OF ARRAN has drawn perfectly in 8 to race on pace throughout.

In his favour is precedent – five visiting Internationals have won the Geelong Cup before contesting the Melbourne Cup. Three have won the Cup (Media Puzzle-2002, Americain-2010, Dunaden-2011), while Bauer (2008) was second and Qewy (2016) was fourth.

The dangers to PRINCE OF ARRAN are supplied by the Irish father and son invaders in Aidan and Joseph O’Brien.

Ascot Gold Cup third MASTER OF REALITY will enjoy the give in the ground, has drawn perfectly in gate one and should get every chance from Dettori. Perhaps 2019 will see the Cup monkey off Dettori’s back, MASTER OF REALITY selected ahead of IL PARADISO.

Worthy of note is LATROBE, another from Joseph O’Brien’s stable. Rarely does one find a Group One Classic (Irish Derby) in a Melbourne Cup, and he looks well treated with 55kg. He did defeat Rostropovich in that Derby, and that horse managed fifth in the 2018 Melbourne Cup when he was technically still a 3yo.

So for 2019, FORM FOCUS selects PRINCE OF ARRAN to win from MASTER OF REALITY, IL PARADISO & LATROBE.