Melbourne Cup Runner-by-Runner Guide

Melbourne Cup Runner-by-Runner Guide:

Get your alarms set for just before the break of dawn as the ‘race that stops a nation’ is merely hours away.

23 runners will hurtle their way around Flemington Park in a bid to snatch the £2.3million 1st Place Prize for the Lexus Melbourne Cup.

The Aussies are supposedly already flying the white flag, but do their connections have a trick up their sleeve?

Can a British horse win the Melbourne Cup for the very first time? Will Ireland secure back-to-back victories? Or will Japan throw in a curveball to the race?

We will know by 4:15 in the morning tomorrow, and here’s who lines up in the 2018 Melbourne Cup..

1. Best Solution

Jockey: Pat Cosgrave

Trainer: Saeed Bin Suroor

It’s been a stellar season for Best Solution, who is unbeaten in four starts since his fifth-place finish in the Sheema Classic earlier this year. His hardy, never-say-die attitude has been in full force this season, with successes in the Group Two Princess of Wales Stakes, and two at the highest level in the Grosser Pries von Berlin and von Baden.

The four-year-old’s defining moment was two weeks ago in the Caulfield Cup. Drawn on the outside of the field, he broke slowly and looked to have blown his chance. However, an inspired ride from his Jockey, Pat Cosgrave, allowed him to gain his first major victory down under.

He is one of three runners for Godolphin in the race, but looks to have a tough challenge on his plate after being allotted the top weight of 57.5kg.

2. The Cliffsofmoher

J: Ryan Moore

T: A P O’Brien

Second in the 2017 Derby, Cliffs of Moher hasn’t confirmed the lofty aspirations the Ballydoyle team once had for him, registering a sole group two victory in 13 starts since. While the son of Galileo has fallen short at the top level, the four-year-old has managed to find a level of consistency this season, including two eye-catching minor place honours in two starts down under.

After finishing a respectable fourth behind Benbatl in the Ladbrokes Stakes, he turned out a week later and finished a staying-on third in the Caulfield Cup behind Best Solution.

His running-style suggests the mammoth trip should be no problem for him, but under 56.5kg and indeed the step up four furlongs further than he has raced before, Cliffs of Moher may well fall up short.

3. Magic Circle

J: Corey Brown

T: Ian Williams

Since being bought by Dr. Marwan Koukash and sent to the Worcestershire handler, Magic Circle has proved to be a revelation.

The six-year-old hacked up in the Chester Cup, and followed that with an equally as impressive performance in the Henry VII Stakes in late May.

Off the track since that win, Magic Circle tends to save his best performances for when he is fresh, and despite a wide draw in stall 17, he is one of Britain’s leading hopes to bring the Cup home, even if his owner has promised to wear next to nothing in the celebrations…

4. Chestnut Coat

J: Yuga Kawada

T: Yoshito Yahagi

Japan’s only runner in the race, the four-year-old finished a close-up fifth in the Tenno Sho (Spring) over two miles in April, only beaten one-and-three-quarter-lengths.

However, that is his only reasonable form to date, and on his most recent start in the Caulfield Cup he weakened tamely to finish down the field.

If he brings back his Tenno Sho form, he may be in with a squeak, but his current price reflects his outsider status and it will be a shock if he delivers Japan’s first win in this since 2006.

5. Muntahaa

J: Jim Crowley

T: John Gosden

Trainer John Gosden is riding the crest of a wave at the minute after his stable stars Cracksman and Enable delivered major victories, and the Newmarket-based trainer will be hoping Muntahaa scoops him another major prize.

The grey gelding looked to be a shadow of what he could have potentially been, but a resurgent season has yielded victory in Britain’s richest handicap, the Ebor.

The son of Dansili powered away to victory that day under a canny ride form Jim Crowley, and the former jump jockey has been rewarded with keeping the ride, when so many Aussie jockeys were on standby, in what would be his biggest career success to date.

6. Sound Check

J: Jordan Childs

T: Michael Moroney

Another horse whose form ties in with many in the race, Sound Check would be classed as one of Germany’s group one performers.

The son of Lando was bred to stay, and duly justified this tag when winning the two-mile Oleander-Rennen at Hoppegarten in May (even though he was awarded the race by the stewards), and further enhanced his credentials after finishing a close second to Best Solution in the Grosser Pries von Berlin.

His first start for new connections was a write off, and was a distant 12th behind his familiar foe in the Caulfield Cup.

He plugged past some beaten horses that day and while his task looks difficult, he could be a factor on his very best form.

7. Who Shot Thebarman

J: Ben Melham

T: Chris Waller

One of Australia’s publicly loved horses, Who Shot Thebarman has been an admirable servant for connections throughout his racing career.

The ten-year-old was third behind Protectionist in the 2014 renewal of the cup, and followed that up with a fifth-place finish two years later.

Chris Waller’s stalwart finally got his day in the sun earlier this year, getting up in a pulsating finish to win the group one Sydney Cup.

However, the form level of that race isn’t the greatest, and with him advancing into his twilight years, a tough weight and draw, the odds are stacked against Who Shot Thebarman to achieve a fairy-tale success.

8. Ace High

J: Tye Angland

T: David Payne

Another outsider of the field, Ace High looks to already have achieved his biggest career win, notching up in the group two Australia Hill Stakes at Randwick.

This looked to be a weak race and the four-year-old’s form apart from that looks uninspiring, including when finishing down the field in the Caulfield Cup.

His task is made even harder from the wide berth of stall 22, and it looks impossible for him to achieve a shock victory.

9. Marmelo

J: Hugh Bowman

T: Hughie Morrison

Sent off joint-favourite for last year’s renewal, Marmelo seemed to have his worst performance for the grandest occasion and ended finishing a tame ninth behind Rekindling.

Since then, his campaign has revolved around a vengeance mission for the cup and the Duke of Marmalade Horse has been in fine form, including a group two victory before being narrowly touched off by Prix Royal-Oak winner Holdthasigreen on his latest start.

The five-year-old has a far more favourable draw this time and top Australian Jockey has been booked for the ride again as he looks to avenge his defeat from 12 months ago.

10. Avilius

J: Glyn Schofield

T: James Cummings

Avilius has had a busy campaign so far in an aim to fine tune him specifically for this race, and was unbeaten in four starts until he faced the wrath of Winx.

Realistically, his fourth-place run behind the great mare was an encouraging prep run to put him right and he will be in prime form for this test, even though he is stepping up drastically by four furlongs.

His form suggests the step-up will be no problem, and a comfortable draw has left him with a strong chance.

11. Yucatan

J: James McDonald

T: A P O’Brien

The maestro of Ballydoyle has never won the Melbourne Cup, but that stat could change this year as he saddles the current favourite, Yucatan.

The son of Galileo’s form has been topsy-turvy to say the least. He was a high-class juvenile, but classic aspirations were scuppered by injury early on in his three-year-old campaign.

He’s taken a fair few runs to get his act together this season, yielding a weak group three success in Ireland. But the ease in his victory in the Herbert Power Stakes propelled him to Melbourne Cup favouritism.

Leniency by the Handicapper means he only races on 54.5kg, and despite a horror draw in the widest berth of 23, Yucatan is the one they all have to beat.

12. Auvray

J: Tommy Berry

T: Richard Freedman

A formerly smart three-year-old when trained in France, Auvray has done little to convince that he is up to winning a race of this calibre.

Second in a group three at Newcastle three starts ago, Auvray disappointed on his most recent race in a conditions stakes at Randwick 24 days ago.

His form is way short of the standard required and plenty more have the calibre to warrant a strong chance here.

13. Finche

J: Zac Purton

T: Chris Waller

Just like Auvray, Finche shipped over from France with some smart form, including as a group-two winning three-year-old.

His first run on Southern Hemisphere soil was promising, being beaten by only one-and-a-half lengths in the Geelong Cup.

More improvement is required from Chris Waller’s second string, but with an interesting jockey booking, it may not be a great shock if that improvement comes here.

14. Red Cardinal

J: Damien Oliver

T: Darren Wier

Red Cardinal was well fancied to deliver another Melbourne Cup for Germany last year, but a nightmare draw scuppered his chance of shining.

He’s shown signs of promise in only one of his five starts since, and was comprehensively beaten by some opposing rivals in the Moonee Valley Cup last time out.

A big step in the right direction is required, but it isn’t likely to come here.

15. Vengeur Masque

J: Patrick Molony

T: Michael Moroney

Another Australian-trained outsider, Vengeur Masque hasn’t lived up to expectations since being shipped down under.

He been beaten by both Avilius and Best Solution on his previous two starts, didn’t stay when finishing down the field in the 2015 English St.Leger and his current price of 100/1 reflects the little chance he has.

16. Ventura Storm

J: Mark Zahra

T: David A & B Hayes & Tom Dabernig

Formerly trained in Britain by Richard Hannon and finished second in the 2016 St.Leger before being sold to Australian connections.

His form since arriving has been mixed, but has included a second-place finish behind Winx as well as a victory in the Moonee Valley Cup on his latest start.

The gelding finished down the field in last year’s renewal when conditions were in his favour, so he is probably best watched again on that evidence.

17. Prince Of Arran

J: Michael Walker

T: Charlie Fellowes

A grand servant for connections, Prince of Arran has been globetrotting in a bid to gain a major victory.

The Aussie soil has seemingly brought the best out of him, with a third-place finish behind Yucatan bettered by a win in the Lexus Stakes here on Saturday, which secured him a place in the field.

The five-year-old is in the form of his life, and if he can overcome stall 20, he may well deliver on the grandest stage of them all.

18. Nakeeta

J: Regan Bayliss

T: Ian Jardine

Last year’s Ebor winner and Melbourne Cup-fifth will be flying the flag for the tartan army of Scotland yet again.

While he hasn’t been in the same form as last season, the campaign has been tailored with this in their mind and ran with promise on his last three starts in Britain.

But, his run in the Moonee Valley Cup was a disaster, leaving him as one of the outsiders here. It looks to be a perilous challenge this time, but it’ll be one for the emotions if he can gain an unlikely win.

19. Sir Charles Road

J: Dwayne Dunn

T: Lance O’Sullivan & Andrew Scott

Again, another Australian outsider who has shown little since finishing third in the 2018 Sydney Cup.

Three defeats at group three level suggests he is not up to the class required to win a Cup, and it is likely he has been placed here for an Owner’s day out.

20. Zacada

J: Damian Lane

T: Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman

The same applies to Zacada, who has shown next to nothing since finishing second in the Sydney Cup.

He’s a 150/1 shot for a reason and has not chance here, but would be the biggest-priced winner in History if he was to win.

21. Runaway

J: Stephen Baster

T: Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott

Looked to have a new lease of life when winning the 2018 Geelong Cup over some reopposing rivals at his first try over one mile four furlongs.

The four-year-old has to take his form to the next level to be competitive here, but staying could bring the best out of him and he is trained by a legendary trainer who sure knows how to win a cup.

22. Youngstar

J: Craig A Williams

T: Chris Waller

Was heavily fancied in the Caulfield Cup, but was disappointing behind Best Solution in that race.

Despite this, he can be forgiven for that run and is the trainers first string in the race. With a favourable draw and a kind weight, he seems to be Australia’s hope to salvage the cup out of the European stranglehold and his market price reflects that. Punters would have to write him off at their peril…

23. Cross Counter

J: Kerrin McEvoy

T: Charlie Appleby

After successes in the major races across the world, Appleby could cap off a fine season with Godolphin’s primary hope here.

The three-year-old was an easy winner of the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood before finding stablemate Old Persian too strong in the Great Voltegieur Stakes.

He’s been en-route to Melbourne ever since, and despite the wide draw, he could have the class to deliver a consecutive victory for the classic generation in this race.

24. Rostropovich

J: Wayne Lordan

T: A P O’Brien

Has exceeded expectations this season, which was capped with a fine second-place in the Irish Derby. He fell shy of the top-level in Europe, but managed to gain a group three win before finishing fifth in the Cox Plate behind Winx ten days ago.

He plugged on that day, suggesting the trip should be no issue here. But jockey bookings suggest he is the team’s third string, and just like many, the draw looks set to severely hamper his chances.

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