As promised a few weeks back, dear reader, today's post focuses on my updated view of the Melbourne Cup, due to be run in the early hours of Tuesday morning (04:00 GMT).
Before we get to that though, a little gloat. 😉
Thanks to the scores of you who emailed me to tell me you'd backed The Last Derby on Saturday. This winner was identified by the Handicap Chase Outsiders system I gave away free a couple of weeks ago, and the returned SP at the track was 33/1.
I was at Newmarket with the Geegeez Racing Club (fantastic day, and great to meet everyone!), but still managed to sneak a fiver each way on it (as did at least one of my fellow racing club punters - well done David!)
One kind backer even sent me a screenshot of his Betfair account - here's Eamon's lovely punt:
Others reported odds as juicy as 80, and place odds nearing 20/1, so well done all.
You can download it, if you didn't already, by signing up here.
OK, enough self-congratulatory claptrap. 😉
Let's now review the trends I'd previously unearthed, and apply them to the final field for the Cup.
- 10/10 were aged 4-7 years old; 5/7 excluding Makybe Diva (and all of the last five) were 4 or 5 year olds
- The win odds have been all over the shop. 13/5 favourite to last yearâ€™s 40/1 boilover demonstrate that this is not really a race to lean too heavily on the betting for support
- Weight is tricky as well. Aside from Makybe Diva, no other horse lugged more than 8-11, and nothing lugged less than 7-12. In this race, that band takes in pretty much all participants.
- The middle draw appears to have the best of it, though how material that is in a two miler is a moot point. Nevertheless, six of the last ten winners were drawn in the middle third of the stalls. The remaining four winners were evenly split between high and low thirds (two each, in case you needed help! )
- Significantly, 9/10 winners had run in one of the following four races last time out: Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate, Geelong Cup, and the Mackinnon Stakes (two winners, both trained by legendary Melbourne Cup trainer, Bart Cummings).
- All ten winners had previously finished in the first four in a Group race that season, and I believe this will be a very material determinant on the day, as all recent winners have had undoubted class. Moreover, 6 /10 won a Group race.
- Despite the above fact, it is also interesting (and I think relevant) to note that eight out of ten winners had either failed to win that season or only won once. One of the two with multiple seasonal wins was that Diva, so you could say eight out of nine winners had none or one wins before triumphing at Flemington Park.
- With the exception of Brew back in 2000, the other nine winners had all run between three and seventeen days prior to Cup day. Ignore anything racing after a layoff of more than two and a half weeks.
- No front runner has won since 1997 (Might And Power), though Give The Slip almost did just that in 2001 under Richard Hills, before getting done in the last 50 yards. (Hills was brutalised in the local media for his ride, and itâ€™s fair to say that you need a local pilot aboard if youâ€™re serious about winning the race.)
- The Euroâ€™s have been peppering the target in recent years, with Luca Cumani, Aidan Oâ€™Brien, Saeed bin Suroor and Dermot Weld all going close. (Weld incidentally has won the race twice, with Media Puzzle and Vintage Crop).
There's a field of 24 scheduled to go to post. First applying the 4-7yo rule, we can lose Ista Kareem, Spin Around and the ex-Aidan O'Brien Changingoftheguard.
Next, let's eliminate any horse that didn't run within 17 days of the race. That scratches Mourilyan, the likely favourite Alcopop, and the ex-Michael Stoute trained Warringah.
Looking at the weights, although Viewed is respected both in terms of connections and form, history suggests he has a mountain to climb to lug 9-02 against the Melbourne Cup field. He's reluctantly erased.
Those who have protected their handicap mark by failing to win (or only winning once) that season have dominated, so I'm against Munsef, Alcopop (again), Daffodil and Allez Wonder.
Although there's still a fair few left, the next clue removes all bar a quintet. Class horses win the Melbourne Cup. All of the last ten winners had finished in the first four in a Group / Grade 1 race previously that season.
The last men (and women) standing are: Fiumicino, Master O'Reilly, Roman Emperor, Harris Tweed, and Shocking.
Shocking is a mare and, aside from the amazing Makybe Diva, they've struggled against the boys here. She also bypassed all the recognised trials to win a weak looking Group 3 last time, so she's scrubbed.
Master O'Reilly is a most consistent sort, and odds of 12/1 or thereabouts reflect that. He could win, and looks a decent each way wager, but I'm going to look beyond him this time.
Fiumicino was an eye-catching 5th in the Caulfield Cup last time, and also won a Group 1 race earlier this season. He became my pick for the race when I saw his odds. Expecting him to be around 20/1, I was very surprised to note 66/1 being widely available. He'll relish the going (any extra rain will help) and the only reservation I have is about the trip. At odds of 80 on Betfair, I'm happy to take a chance.
I'll round out the tricast (!) with Roman Emperor and Harris Tweed. The Roman Emperor is a 4yo and finished second in the Caulfield Cup last time (beating Fiumicino by less than a length, a pound worse off on Tuesday morning). He also won a Group 1 earlier in the season and, if having a going day, must be on the scene.
And the bronze medallist might be Harris Tweed. This quirky beast was only two further lengths back in the Caulfield Cup despite finishing position of 10th and, with a Group 2 win to his name this season, is capable of better. He's a 100/1 shot (bigger of course on Betfair) but I fancy him to run much better than those odds would suggest.
So there you have it, my win and place predictions with their current win odds):
1st Fiumicino (66/1, 80 on Betfair)
2nd Roman Emperor (8/1, 10 on Betfair)
3rd Harris Tweed (100/1, 150 on Betfair)
4th Master O'Reilly (12/1, 15 on Betfair)
NOTE: In case I get it horribly wrong, please don't send hate mail. I do not profess to a strong handle on Southern Hemisphere form, and I have used the trends as I see them.
Best of luck if you're playing in that race. As I land in San Diego at 8pm local time, it'll be 3am GMT, which means I'm unlikely to have my computer set up in time to watch. It also means my next post will be Stateside and, appropriately enough, will focus on the Breeders Cup.