Melbourne Cup Runners - Runner-by-Runner guide

  • Full Runner-by-Runner preview for the 2018 Melbourne Cup 

The field for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) has been finalised and there are 24 of the world’s best stayer set to do battle for the famous handicap race at Flemington. 

Here is our runner-by-runner guide to the race that stops the nation.

1. BEST SOLUTION (6) - Saeed Bin Suroor, Pat Cosgrave, 57.5kg 
The Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution is top-weight for the Melbourne Cup. Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor has never won the Melbourne Cup but has had a terrific Spring Carnival this year, with the likes of Best Solution and Benbatl both winning Group Ones. Best Solution was given the perfect ride from Pat Cosgrave in the Caulfield Cup and he proved the superior stayer, defeating Homesman and The Cliffsofmoher. His last second-up run, he defeated Sound Check in the GP Von Berlin (2400m). He is untried over further than 2400m but he maps well from barrier six and any rain is a positive. 
Odds: $12.00 (Sportsbet

2. THE CLIFFSOFMOHER (9) - Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore, 56.5kg 
The Aidan O’Brien-trained galloper is an interesting runner. There were mixed opinions on his run in the Caulfield Cup. I believed he was entitled to get closer after he loomed at the furlong and I didn’t like him hanging in under pressure. On a positive note, I love his platform into this race. He comes from the Caulfield Stakes into the Caulfield Cup and now to the Melbourne Cup. It is the exact preparation Johannes Vermeer had last year before running second in the Melbourne Cup. He beat current favourite Yucatan in the Mooresbridge on a Soft 7 back in May. 
Odds: $18.00 (Sportsbet

3. MAGIC CIRCLE (17) - Ian Williams, Corey Brown, 56kg 
Since being trained by Ian Williams, Magic Circle has looked like a superstar. He returned off a 30-week spell and bolted in the Chester Cup (3749m) by six-lengths. He backed that up by trashing Red Verdon and Weekender by six-lengths in the Henry II Stakes over 3214m last start. That form can be tied in by Weekender, who came out and had a tough run in the Ebor, giving Muntaaha 1.5kg, and still running a close-up second. That looks like top class form. He is proven at this distance and will love any rain on the track. Jockey Corey Brown is a terrific Melbourne Cup rider and will allow him to blend into the race off a predicted fast tempo. He did only run fifth behind Nakeeta in the Ebor Handicap (2787m) but he is a completely different horse now.
Odds: $8.50 (Unibet

4. CHESTNUT COAT (4) - Yoshito Yahagi, Yuga Kawada, 55.5kg 
His Caulfield Cup run was poor. He was always going to be better suited to 3200m and the sit and sprint style of racing didn’t suit but he faded badly late. Any rain will be a disadvantage for him. It was announced on Sunday that the Concussion Plates will be applied. That’s a big negative and I don’t believe the horse has acclimatised to Australian conditions at all.
Odds: $67.00 (Bet365

5. MUNTAHAA (13) - John Gosden, Jim Crowley, 55.5kg
He was too strong for Weekender in the Ebor Handicap (2816m), which gives me the impression he’ll run 3200m no problem. That form can be tied in with Magic Circle. He wasn’t too far away from Best Solution two starts ago in the Princess of Wales (2414m) and gets a 2kg weight swing on that runner. No horse has ever won the Ebor Handicap and Melbourne Cup, although the winners of the last two years have both run in the top five in the Melbourne Cup, Heartbreak City (2nd) and Nakeeta (5th). My question would be, does he have the turn of foot to win a Melbourne Cup? He is a winning chance but $11 is slight unders in my opinion. 
Odds: $12.00 (Unibet

6. SOUND CHECK (16) - Michael Moroney, Jordan Childs, 55.5kg 
He was never a factor in the Caulfield Cup last start. He was back and wide with the tempo completely against. He had the back of Youngstar and didn’t really go with her. If you’re willing to forgive that run, he got within a neck of Best Solution in the GP Von Berlin (2400m) two starts ago. Michael Moroney and Jordan Childs from barrier 16 doesn’t fill me with the most confidence. With luck in running, he is a top five chance and isn’t the worst roughie in the race. 
Odds: $51.00 (Unibet)

7. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN (18) - Chris Waller, Ben Melham, 55.5kg 
The Barman is going around again, what a horse. He is going well and deserves his spot in the race. He flashed home last start in the Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) behind Ventura Storm and Trap For Fools. He won the Sydney Cup (3200m) in the Autumn and the race actually rated well. The issue is, he beat Zacada and Sir Charles Road. He rarely runs a bad race over two miles and could sneak in the top 10. 
Odds: $51.00 (Unibet

8. ACE HIGH (22) - David Payne, Tye Angland, 55kg 
If the rain stays away, I’ve seen worse $81 chances than Ace High. He was ridden upside down in the Caulfield Cup. He led at a slow pace, which made it a sit and sprint which didn’t suit him at all. He obviously dropped out terribly but looked to wave the white flag and not try the final 600m. The speed map is horrible for him from barrier 22. If he goes forward he’ll need luck and if he goes back he could be all but out of the race. In saying that, he is a knockout place hope on a good track. 
Odds: $101.00 (Bet365

9. MARMELO (10) - Hughie Morrison, Hugh Bowman, 55kg 
Last year’s Melbourne Cup favourite Marmelo returns. He was disappointing on face value last year and may have run his peak performance first-up in the Caulfield Cup. Trainer Hughie Morrison looks to have learnt his lesson from last year, leaving him fresh this year. His last run was in mid-August. He beat Weekender and Duretto in the Grand Cup (2770m) at York in June and that form can be easily tied in around Magic Circle and Muntahaa. The whisper from Werribee is he has settled in super. He should get a nice run from barrier 10 just off the speed and he may look the winner at some point in the straight, whether he has the turn of foot to win a Melbourne Cup remains to be seen. 
Odds: $16.00 (Unibet

10. AVILIUS (11) - James Cummings, Glyn Schofield, 54.5kg 
Avilius has done well beating weaker opposition this preparation and he might be a classy middle-distance weight-for-age horse in the Autumn. He only just beat Jaameh in the Bart Cummings, that horse couldn’t get near A Prince Of Arran in the Lexus on Saturday. That Bart Cummings form certainly isn’t the A-grade form and his run in the Cox Plate (2040m) was only fair. He went from 2500m back to 2040m and now to 3200m for the first time in his life. He did split Cracksman and Finche on soft ground in the Prix Niel (2400m) back in September 2017. In saying that, I couldn’t have him anywhere near is current price. Happy to risk. 
Odds: $13.00 (BetEasy

11. YUCATAN (23) - Aidan O’Brien, James McDonald, 54.5kg 
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Yucatan is the horse to beat. His International form isn’t as good as some of these but we have to go off what we saw in the Herbert Power (2400m) at Caulfield. He could’ve won by eight-lengths but was eased up to a walk in the final 100m to win by a length and a half. What I was most impressed with, was his sectionals between the 600m and 200m. He showed a turn of foot that is necessary to win a Melbourne Cup, running 22.78s from the 600m-200m. To put that into perspective, Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution ran that sectional in 23.58s, while Benbatl who won the Caulfield Stakes over 2000m on the same day, ran that sectional in 22.80s. That Hebert Power form has stacked up, with A Prince Of Arran and Brimham Rocks running the quinella in the Lexus Stakes (2500m) on Saturday. The query is the 3200m, as he has never run the distance in his life and we didn’t get a good guide in the Herbert Power, with James McDonald throttling him down when the race was won. 
Odds: $6.00 (BetEasy)

12. AUVRAY (1) - Richard Freedman, Tommy Berry, 54kg 
Good luck to connections. The eight-year-old gelding couldn’t beat Carzoff in a Newcastle Cup or hurdler Big Blue in the St Ledger (2800m) last start. The $101 seems under the odds and can’t make a case for him. 
Odds: $126.00 (Unibet)

13. FINCHE (15) - Chris Waller, Zac Purton, 54kg 
The son of Frankel and trained by Chris Waller, Finche is sure to have his supporters. I thought his third in the Geelong Cup (2400m) behind Runaway was solid but it wasn’t a Melbourne Cup winning lead-up run. Both Chris Waller and Hugh Bowman were of the opinion that he will be a much better horse in the Autumn. He is still a new horse and his best runs to date have been in small fields. He isn’t suited here.
Odds: $31.00 (Unibet)

14. RED CARDINAL (5) - Darren Weir, Damien Oliver, 54kg 
Looking at the form guide, you would say Red Cardinal has zero chance. He couldn’t beat Big Blue in the St Ledger (2800m) and finished down the track in the Moonee Valley Cup.
The positives are, Darren Weir sixth-up and the blinkers go on first time. He jarred up badly last start at The Valley and Craig Williams to Damien Oliver is a positive jockey change and he will get a soft run from barrier five. The money has come for him from $91 into $51 and I can see why. I will be saving on him. 
Odds: $51.00 (Palmerbet)

15. VENGEUR MASQUE (2) - Michael Moroney, Patrick Moloney, 54kg 
Seven-year-old gelding Vengeur Masque gets his chance in a Melbourne Cup. His last two runs in the Bart Cummings and Caulfield Cup have been fair without being great. Mike Moroney says he is going better than last year but his best still looks five or more lengths below this grade. He will be buried back on the fence from barrier two. It would take a parting of the seas and a great ride from Patrick Moloney to see him anywhere near the finish.
Odds: $81.00 (Unibet)

16. VENTURA STORM (7) - David & B Hayes & T Dabernig, Mark Zahra, 54kg 
Ventura Storm got his first win in 17 starts in Australia last start in the Moonee Valley Cup (2500m). He got the absolute gun run and was entitled to run past Trap For Fools in the straight. It concerns me that a horse like Libran was taking ground off him in the straight. He has the Winx form, from he Turnbull Stakes but I don’t think he runs a strong two miles. There are better roughies in the race. 
Odds: $31.00 (Sportsbet

17. A PRINCE OF ARRAN (20) - Charlie Fellowes, Michael Walker, 53kg 
He looked a complete moral in the Lexus Stakes (2500m) on Saturday and it panned out that way. Jockey Michael Walker got to the front too soon (through no fault of his own) but he was too classy for Brimham Rocks and Jaameh over the concluding stakes. He has strong form around Withhold over 3200m in Newcastle and should have no problem with the distance. The queries are obvious. The quick backup from the Lexus and the fact he looked outclassed behind Yucatan in the Herbert Power (2400m). 
Odds: $19.00 (Neds

18. NAKEETA (3) - Iain Jardine, Regan Bayliss, 53kg 
Nakeeta is not a horse I can find. His run in the Moonee Valley Cup was poor and his recent performances overseas haven’t been flash. These include running 24.5 lengths behind Withhold and A Prince Of Arran in the Northumberland (3269m) and 7.2 lengths behind Muntahaa and Weekender in the Ebor Handicap (2816m). He did finish fifth in the Melbourne Cup last year but doesn’t look to be going as well this time around. Others preferred.  
Odds: $151.00 (Unibet)

19. SIR CHARLES ROAD (14) - Lance O’Sullivan & Andrew Scott, Dwayne Dunn, 53kg 
Sir Charles Road doesn’t look to bring the right formlines into the Melbourne Cup. His last in the Coongy Cup (2000m) behind Mask Of Time and Best Of Days was followed by a third in the Bendigo Cup (2400m) where he was beaten by Red Alto. This looks too tough for him. 
Odds: $101.00 (Bet365

20. ZACADA (24) - Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman, Damian Lane, 53kg 
Gee it’s hard to make a case for him. He hasn’t gotten within seven-lengths of the winner in his last four runs since finishing second to Who Shot TheBarman in the Sydney Cup (3200m). Barrier 24 can’t help but he does have Damian Lane on board. He is $151 into as low as $67 with some bookies. I couldn’t get him lower than a $501 chance.
Odds: $151.00 (Bet365

21. RUNAWAY (12) - Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott, Stephen Baster, 52kg 
The Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained Runaway should ensure a strong tempo as he rolls forward from barrier 12. He peaked last start, winning the Geelong Cup in impressive fashion. Judging by the comments post race, that was his grand final. He beat the stablemate Northwest Passage who has since failed in the Lexus Stakes. I can’t have him anywhere near the current $41 quote. He’s a genuine $201 shot for mine. 
Odds: $41.00 (BetEasy)

22. YOUNGSTAR (8) - Chris Waller, Craig Williams, 51.5kg 
The four-year-old mare has had a terrific preparation. She put everyone on notice in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m), looking the winner before Winx stole the show over the final 100m. She wasn’t suited in the Caulfield Cup and was clearly the best of the backmarkers. She ran her last 200m in 12.05s and her last 400m 23.92s, both were clearly the fastest sectionals of the race. The 3200m is the unknown but with 51.5kg from barrier eight, there are more positives than negatives. 
Odds: $16.00 (Sportsbet

23. CROSS COUNTER (19) - Charlie Appleby, Kerrin McEvoy, 51kg 
The lightly-raced four-year-old gelding has a Rekindling feel to him. He is an outstanding galloper, trashing his rivals in the Gordon Stakes (2414m) at Goodwood before running a narrow second in the Voltigeur Stakes at York. He beat home the third-placed runner Kew Gardens who has since won the Group 1 Doncaster St Leger Stakes (2921m). He has never raced beyond 2414m but gives the impression he will stay the two miles. He had a small hiccup when arriving in Australia but the Charlie Appleby camp must be respected.
Odds: $9.50 (Unibet)

24. ROSTROPOVICH (21) - Aidan O’Brien, Wayne Lordan, 51kg 
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Rostropovich may end up as a key runner in this year’s Melbourne Cup. From barrier 21, I have a funny feeling he could be used as a pacemaker for the likes of Yucatan and The Cliffsofmoher. Jockey Wayne Lordan isn’t close to the stables first port of call and he could be used to set the race up for another runner. His run in the Cox Plate was better than it looked. It was only a fitness run for the horse, who wasn’t suited over 2040m at weight-for-age level. He returns to handicap conditions with only 51kg on his back. If he is ridden quietly then he is a legitimate winning chance. 
Odds: $31.00 (Unibet

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Melbourne Cup Runners - Runner-by-Runner guide

The field for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) has been finalised and there are 24 of the world’s best stayer set to do battle for the famous handicap race at Flemington.

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