Below are the last 18 winners of the big race although I do have the data for the past sixteen to seventeen winners. I had a lot of luck finding four of the first five horses past the winning post in 2016 but that was followed up with a complete wipeout last year. A bit less analytical emphasis on the historical side of things this year, and just hope I have been able to find a few things that other analysts have either missed or not elaborated so much on.
Purely looking at recent historical trends can be a very powerful tool in selecting the next winner of the great race. There are some exceptionally pertinent factors to consider, and while I’m only going back to the new millennium (year 2000), they do give us an idea of what is required to win this race in the modern era. Below is a review of the statistics consistent with winning this race over the past eighteen years.
Age and Sex
This is the most pertinent statistic in recent history. Eight of the last ten winners have been Stallions (a horse that hasn’t been gelded), as have Nine of the last Twelve. Prior to that we only had 5 Entire winners
From 2000 to 2005 no Stallion won the cup, and in fact you have to go back to 1994 to find the last Entire winner before that, which was the former import Jeune. So if the Entire factor isn’t a trend I don’t know what one is!
Added to that factor that five of the last six (Stallkion) winners have been either five or six years of age and Eight of the last Sixten winners have in fact been six year olds. Four five-year-olds (two Entires), two four-year-olds, and one seven-year-old (Makybe Diva’s third win), and one three year old complete the 17 year picture back to 2000. In the 20 years prior to that six-year-olds won five, so the trend of the older horse winning has held up well.
The most telling statistic is that 13 of the past 17 winners have dropped in weight before winning the Cup. Twelve of those have dropped 2.5kg or more in weight, which computes to an average (winning) drop in weight of approximately 3.5kg.
No horse has carried over 58kg to win in the 15-year period, and only one has carried more than 56.5kg. That was the champion mare Makybe Diva in 2005, but she had already won the race twice. You have to go back a long way to find the last one that did carry a bigger impost than her. It was Think Big in 1975 who shouldered 58.5kg.
Having said that, the minimum weight would almost certainly have been lower that year (49kg or lower), and we have to keep in mind that all weights have been raised the last couple of years to give us a minimum weight of 51kg. Therefore the higher weighted horses shouldn’t necessarily be dismissed, and Makybe Diva carried 6.5kg and 9kg over the minimum in two of her wins, while Japanese horse Delta Blues carried 6kg over.
14 of the past 17 winners finished in the first four placings at their prior start. 8 of the last 18 winners had won their prior start.
The three that hadn’t placed in that period had all finished well back in a major lead up race at 2000m (two in the Cox Plate and one from Mackinnon Stakes), dropping significantly in weight.
Only two imported horse have managed to win the race without having a run here and that was Vintage Crop in 1993 and the three year old Rekindling last year. Five of the Internations runner that havewon the Cup in the past Sixteen years have run here prior to the race, with three of those winning the Geelong Cup prior. All raced in a 2400m race at their previous start. Rekindling ran in a 2800m race in Ireland prior and his age rarely (if ever) run at longer distances than that it Europe
Added to that fact no imported horse until Rekindling (even going back to Vintage Crop) had won this 3200m race without having won or placed at 3000m and beyond, either in Europe or Japan.
Of the Seven International winners, 4 had won at their previous start, and all finished in the first 4 placings. .The two that didn’t win were beaten less than a length.
No English trained horse has ever won the Melbourne cup, although a few have placed, and Red Cadeaux went awfully close to winning when runner up to Dunaden.
The only Naturalised (for want of a better term) imports to win the Cup, had at least raced in the country in the Autumn of the same year (Jeune won the CF Orr Stakes and Queen Elizabeth in Autumn).
Conversely of the nine ‘local’ winners in the past 16 years, only Makybe Diva (two wins) had won beyond 2500m prior to their Melbourne Cup triumph.
Our horses don’t appear to require the same stamina in their pedigree as the Internationals, but it’s probably wise to note that four of those eight winners (Makybe Diva three times, Shocking once) had overseas breeding on both the Sire and Dam side. Makybe Diva was actually foaled in England and was shipped to Australia before having raced.
Flemington is largely a ‘horses for courses’ track, and while all the International runners have won without a run here, only one Australasian hasn’t (Ethereal, though not 100 per cent sure) out of the eight winners (past 14 years). It’s best to see some Flemington form (win or a placing) if you fancy a local.
If you look at a finish of the 2014 race you will see that four of the first six placegetters had experience at the track. The first two placegetters were dominant, and both had run second in previous renditions of the race. 2015 longshot winner Prince Of Penzance had an affinity for Flemington.
The last genuine wet track we had in the Cup was back in 1995 and won by Jeune. He completed a trio of wins on wet surfaces. Subzero in 1994 won on a very wet track and the Irish horse Vintage Crop won on a bog in 1993. Only four wet tracks since 1976 so we are well and truly due. Three of the aforementioned winners were sired by a British horse whilst Vintage Crop was out of a US stallion but did most of his racing in Great Britain. Two were Entires and two were geldings.
It would be one of the last places anybody would look in regard to finding a winner of the great race, but some decent research seems to indicate otherwise. Half of the winners since 2000 have been sired by a former Irish racehorse, and six have been by a US raced or born Dam (mother). Three of the past four winners have been sired by the German sire Monsun in combination with an Irish bred mare.
Aside from Prince Of Penzance in 2015, no Australian-based sire has fathered a winner since Rogan Josh in 1999 ,and all of the other winning Dams have either been New Zealand bred (4) or European bred (France 2, GB 1, Ireland 1). Ideally the best candidate would be a horse sired by an Irish father and out of a US or New Zealand bred MotherLead up race
The best in recent times is evenly divided between the Cox Plate (4), Caulfield Cup (4) and Geelong Cup (3) but from the Saturday prior the Lexus has also provided (2), as has the Mackinnon (1) and the Moonee Valley Cup (1). Recent trends have definitely seen the Cox Plate prominent (three of last eight) and the Geelong Cup (three of last 12).
The Caulfield Cup hasn’t produced a winner since 2006, but with an increase in prizemoney over the past three years there is an expectation that the major players in that race will start to exert more influence.
A 3000m race in France known as the Prix Kergorlay has produced three of the last seven winners, and all had one run here in preparation for this race.
Is probably the least significant of the historical data assessed, but it’s worth noting that only one horse in this 17-year period has won drawing inside barrier 3 (Prince of Penzance in 2015), and only two have won outside of barrier 14. Both those winners from outside barriers carried very low weights (Brew and Shocking).
Middle barriers are the winningest ones over a long period of time, which tends to suggest it is best to avoid early interference nearer the rail early, or conversely not have to cover too much extra ground out wide throughout the race.
Summing up these are the recent historical precedents that should help us to find the winner this year;
- Be aged three to six and preferably be an entire (Stallion)
- Dropping in weight, preferably 2.5kg or more.
- Carrying less than 58kg and preferably less than 57kg.
- Imports not trained in Australia preferable to have won or placed in a race at 3000m or beyond,
- Locals would preferably have overseas breeding on both sides of their immediate pedigree, and form at Flemington is advantageous.
Any horse by the sire Monsun would have to earn credit
- It’s best for an imported runner to have had one run in this country
7.Preferably drawn between barriers three and fourteen-
- Had its last run in either the Cox Plate, Geelong Cup , Caulfield Cup or Lexus Stakes-
- Finished in the first 4 placings last start
Runaway, Ace High and Rostropovich look the on speed runners in the race and all three are drawn out a bit so will have to go a bit faster early than they would like. All three are a doubt at two miles so I’m not sure any of their jockeys will be that keen to go at a breakneck speed. It has also a thought that Vengeur Masque will race a lot more forward than he did in the Caulfield Cup but he too is a 3200m query. I’m not convinced we will get a truly run race unless Rostropovich goes very quickly and sets up a fast speed. That would all but finish his chances though in all likelihood Not sure what to expect but it is Flemington which can be leaderish at times (and rails biased). Sometimes a truly run race is no guarantee, that backmarkers will get their chance. A very fast run race should though. So no help here. I’m having a bit each way on the likely tempo.
- BEST SOLUTION- Has to carry the top weight and he has no form beyond 2400m and no breeding to suggest he can. To counter point one he received no weight penalty for the Caulfield Cup win and he is a three time Group 1 winner this year which puts him in the extremely well weighted (against others in this race) category. He is also very fit and just never gives up, so point two could also be negated. He had to make 2 runs in the Caulfield Cup yet still won it when he was probably left a sitting shot. He has outstayed every horse he has come up against at 2400m at his past four starts He can sit on pace, or come from behind (see the win in Germany three starts back), and best of all can handle all track conditions. If the rain comes it won’t bother him and he is one of the few in form chances in this race that has drawn a decent barrier. He will get the run of the race and only needs to see the trip out to be very hard to beat. Definitely goes in my top four as he definitely should be carrying 1kg more and his Stallon status is a historical plus.
- CLIFFS OF MOHER- Has been very good in two runs here much the same as his stablemate Johannes Vermeer last year, who ran second in this race. He did seem to peak late in the Caulfield Cup after getting a lovely run through in the straight (was the 7 day backup an issue?). Similarly he had the Epsom Derby won as a three year old in 2016 but just couldn’t quite see it out. On the positive side his Dam is a half sister to Francis Of Assisi who was so impressive here in a couple of wins and had won a couple of races at two miles in the UK. He gets no weight relief from Best Solution from last start which is terribly unjust. He can handle the wet so looks a good hope of filling a place if he gets the 3200m.
- MAGIC CIRCLE- If the rain comes he might start favourite, and if he wins the celebrations are likely to at least match the performance. I’m not sure we’ve seen an English horse come into the race off the back of two straight six length wins at two miles and further. It is really solid form. He was a handy horse in 2017 but has certainly improved in 2018 bearing in mind he has only been with this stable for the two wins mentioned. We could see a spectacular win but I’m just not sure on four counts. Firstly the races he has won have hardly been a good guide to the cup in the past. Secondly he is poorly weighted for mine (the owner expected him to get 54-55kg) given his best performance was a last start Group 3 win. Compare that to the topweight Best Solution who has three Group 1 wins and only has to give him 1kg in weight. Fourthly he has drawn out a bit wider than what is ideal. He has the best wet form in the race but in saying that his best two wins have been on supposedly dry tracks recently. His time for 3250m last start was 3.41+ which equates to about 3.37 for 3200m. On a dry track here this race will be run in less than 3.20+, so he has to find about 100 lengths on that score. Admittedly it’s very hard to match times from the UK to here and he might adapt well to a faster run race. We don’t really know until he tries, No denying he comes here in great form but I’m just going to have to risk him at the odds.
- CHESTNUT COAT- He is well drawn and doesn’t look a doubt at the distance, but he was poor in the Caulfield Cup with the wet track largely to blame. He doesn’t need any rain to fall before now and Tuesday. Very hard to get warm off his last run when so well beaten and he meets the winner no better at the weights. We could see a major improvement on a dry surface though so if he gets it he is one at odds to put in a multi. He didn’t have the best of luck in a G1 3200m race in Japan this year when beaten less than two lengths in a time of 3.16.20. That would be a good enough run to be more than competitive here.
- MUNTAHAA- Is really the polar opposite to Magic Circle from an overseas time perspective given he won the Ebor at York last start in three seconds faster time than last year’s winner Nakeeta, who ran very well in this race last year. In fact the time he ran there was one of the fastest ever in that race. From what I can ascertain he is a bit of an enigmatic galloper and I did read somehere that he needs plenty of room to move. He got that last start in what was a sparkling display out really wide on the track. Given that I’d love to have seen him draw a lot wider than barrier 13 but at least the jockey knows the horse and can devise tactics to suit. My issue with him is that he has no form beyond 2800m and it will be a Melbourne Cup first for a six year old carrying the weight he has to win. If he handles the crowd and gets the right ride he should be right in the finish though. Historically speaking he has drawn a good barrier.
- SOUND CHECK- Has form around Best Solution and on that score he his right in this race at the weights. Unfortunately he did nothing in the Caulfield Cup after overracing and it’s hard to know if his new trainer has come to grips with him yet. A wider than ideal barrier has me risking him, but we might see a major improvement. At least he has won at two miles.
- WHO SHOT THEBARMAN- The old boy is back for another crack after missing the race last year and running a bottler in 2016 when just behind the placings. He is a duel winner at 3200m (9 starts) and just loves racing in the Melbourne direction. His last run was a nice trial for this so hope springs eternal. Barrier 18 is probably going to make it tough for him and it really would be something if a ten year old was to win. Just can’t see it but he could quite possibly run into a placing.
- ACE HIGH- You can put a pen through him if any rain comes but we might see a dramatic improvement if the track remains the way it is. He was awfully disappointing in the Caulfield Cup and that isn’t a great way to enter this race. Obviously the wet was more or less to blame, but I still think we were inclined to expect better from him. A total unknown at the distance but up until last start you’d probably have given him the benefit of the doubt as he has been strong at the end of two Derbies, one of which he won here. Can’t have him here because of the last run, but it will be interesting to see how he goes if the track remains dry. Tye Angland goes back aboard and that might be the key to the horse, given he knows him intimately, and has won four races (five career wins) aboard.
- MARMELO- He comes here fresh this year as opposed to 2017 where he ran well in a Caulfield Cup but failed in this race after a wide run. His stallion status is a bonus and he is quite well weighted against the likes of Magic Circle and Muntahaa. He has two wins and minor placings at Group two level so in reality should have more weight than both those horses. Bowman has decided to ride him above the likes of Finche and he has drawn a great barrier to be competitive. I can’t think of one horse that has won this race off an unplaced effort last year, so he has the job ahead on that score. I’m also wrestling with his form over the past two seasons which oddly has been in the right races. Recently he has beaten a horse called Weekender quite narrowly, but both Muntahaa and especially Magic Circle have beaten that horse a lot, lot easier. Just not sure about him, and he is yet to show he can run the 3200m even though he has won at 3000m. That’s nit picking admittedly. and he might come out and win this race and make history as the first English trained winner. His weight gives him every chance, but just not totally convinced about his form.
- AVILIUS- No doubt this horse has had a great preparation, and a failure at WFA in the Cox Plate isn’t such a bad precedent for this race. I expected a little better from him there given he looked perhaps a three to four length inferior horse to Benbatl on their formlines from the UK. He was nearly seven lengths astern of that horse though. His win in the Bart Cummings with a big weight prior to that was meritorious, but the form hasn’t worked out from that race, and he didn’t look a 3200m horse that day. His Dam (mother) has a Sibling who had 63 starts, and none of them were at less than 1800m, He won two races at 3200m+ and was placed twice at 4000m in albeit weak class The big positive for this horse is the hefty weight drop, and we know he has a great turn of foot. He has drawn well to make an impact, but the jury is out a little for me. Not sure he can run the trip, and weather or not has gone past his peak this preparation. Plenty of people disagree with me though and he might prove me very wrong.
- YUCATAN- He boasts similar formlines to last year’s winner Rekindling, is a Stallion, and was super impressive on debut here in the Herbert Power. That was the best win at Caulfield over 2400m since the great Might And Power won the Caulfield Cup, and possibly even more gobsmacking considering he was never closer than three wide and had to go around the majority of the field. It was breathtaking to see him open up a gap on the field just before the turn and have the audacity to continue that momentum to near the finish where Jockey James McDonald called a halt of what probably would have been an eight length demolition. We don’t know he can run 3200m, but off that performance it seemed very likely. His Dam won three Group 1 races and placed in five others from nine starts at that level. so he is bred to be a Champion. She wasn’t a stayer though (all wins 1400m-1600m) so it sheds some doubt on his two mile pedigree. He is going to have to be good to win from barrier 23, and now he might have to contend with a wet track which just doesn’t look suitable on his career form thus far. His mother did get through going up to what looks like a Soft 6, so I’d suggest he might be okay in conditions no worse than that. His win last start reminds me so much of what Might and Power and Media Puzzle did prior to winning this, and although he did get a 2.5kg weight penalty into this he still drops the same amount of weight that MP did. He carries 1.5kg less weight than M & P,and 2kg more than MP did in their victories. He is the one to beat if he gets some cover, and the right conditions. He should be favourite at about $6 in my view.
- AUVRAY- It’s hard to make a case for him on recent form and against this class. The biggest positive for him is his two wins at 3000m in France but both were a long time ago now. He does appreciate dry tracks too so perhaps we can draw a line through his last effort. He meets WSTBarman 0.5kg worse for their meeting in the 2017 Sydney Cup so can be judged on that form. Barrier 1 might be a big asset if there is a raging rails bias like last year.
- FINCHE- I really love this horse and had a small bet on him for his before the Geelong Cup which left me a little bit ‘flat’. His effort wasn’t that bad though considering the track bias on the day and the weight he had to carry. If he can find 3-4 lengths improvement off that he could be competitive here, and let’s face it that is a possibility. That race has been a decent guide to this one in recent years. Two former French horses did win that and went on to win this so he isn’t hopeless. His breeding suggests he probably won’t run two miles but everything I’ve seen suggests he will. He is 1-1 versus Avilius in France and looks the better stayer on those performances. He probably has more improvement to come than that horse too. The barrier does appear a negative though, as he probably doesn’t have the early speed to overcome it. He is a very interesting runner and I’m crossing fingers he lives up to my expectations.
- RED CARDINAL- He didn’t do a lot in this race last year and has been very disappointing for the Weir stable this Spring, so he is hard to have in this. He is a duel 3200m winner though and any give in the track might help with an added potential bonus of Blinkers going on first time. Oliver on and a good draw mean he probably isn’t the roughest chance in the race if some rain does come. The trainer is very good at timing the addition of gear changes. We already know that through Prince Of Penzance winning this, and this horse is likely to be a similar price.
- VENGEUR MASQUE- He ran okay in the Caulfield Cup where his trainer bemoaned the fact that he wasn’t a lot closer to the speed in an on pace dominated race. He is also now a ‘local’ who has decent form at Flemington and is by that great staying sire Monsun. We don’t know how he will go at two miles as none of his relatives have been tried beyond 2600m, and neither has he. He will need to be a star at the trip to win because he just looks a little short of Group 1 class. His barrier affords him every chance though, and maybe a wet track would bring some others back to him.
- VENTURA STORM- Has always been a doubt at 3200m in my opinion but at least he has a lead up win in a race that has produced some winners of this race. He was also okay in the Caulfield Cup. He was beautifully weighted last start with the Winkers on first time so I’m not totally sure on the merit of that form. He had not won here from sixteen starts prior to that so perhaps the win will give him much needed confidence. He has also drawn well which might help him see out the trip. Not in my top chances but he probably isn’t the worst hope in this field either.
- A PRINCE OF ARRAN- He is definitely not the roughest now that he has won a race here and has form at the distance. He meets Yucatan 2.5kg better for defeat in the Herbert Power, although on what we witnessed there he would probably need 6kg at least. That doesn’t tell the full story though as this horse is proven at the trip and is weighted to have a say. He needs a dry track and the barrier draw has done him no favours. Jockey Michael Walker is a very good rider of rough priced winners, and you can bet he will have a plan to upset the applecart. He looks well short of the class of Yucatan and Magic Circle (beaten 9L by him in Chester Cup), but he is very seasoned, and has had the benefit of two runs here.
- NAKEETA- A very respectable run in this race last year but just hasn’t done anything of note in 2018. I thought he was a great chance going down in weight in the MV Cup last start but he failed to flatter. Again the light weight should suit. as does an inside draw in theory. He is a winner at York, and Flemington is similar, and that is the biggest positive I can find for him here.
- SIR CHARLES ROAD- Has had an unorthodox preparation for this but he needed that last run at Bendigo after missing some work before his prior start. That was a better effort, and he was placed in the Sydney Cup at this trip in the Autumn. He should peak here but he doesn’t quite look up to the class of this race. Some hope he can place at very long odds because he does seem to have been a gradual improver in regard to his racing manner especially.
- ZACADA- Nearly caused a massive boilover in the Sydney Cup this year but that effort came out of nowhere and he has done nothing since. Got gapped at Geelong last start and looks the outsider of the field to me.
- RUNAWAY- A surprise winner of the Geelong cup last this half brother to an ATC Oaks comes into this race in fine fettle. He should just about lead this field from barrier 12, and his best hope might be that he is left alone in front. His only run at the distance last Autumn was a miserable failure, but perhaps the timing wasn’t right at the end of his preparation, and coming off a run seven days prior. He might look the winner into the straight but this does look a much harder task for him. Even Finche meets him a lot better at the weights out of the Geelong Cup. Can’t quite see him being there at the end, but he might surprise with the quality of his effort. If he does run well it might augur well for Finche too.
- YOUNGSTAR- She has done a lot in a short period of time including a QTC Oaks win last Winter, where she staged an amazing performance to win, and then followed up with a hard finishing third in the Derby up there. She again proved her quality in the Turnbull where it took a great performance from the champion Winx to run her down. She pulled away from the rest of field in the concluding stages which was a great trial for both the Caulfield Cup and this. She was ridden quite positively that day so I was expecting to see similar in the Caulfield Cup and was disappointed to see her so far back. That was the end of her chances as it turned out, but she did finish the race off okay in a leader dominated race. The distance is a query, as is her inexperience, but at least on her breeding side her Mum does have two siblings that have won at 4000m and 5000m+. She looks a 3200m horse, and she is one of the few better chances to have drawn ideally, and she has some good Flemington form I think she proven she has the class, so it’s just a matter of how she is physically and mentally. If she is still in the zone, then I think she is a very realistic chance, but it’s just disturbing that Kerrin McEvoy has jumped off after being with her most of her career. I’m hoping the old adage that jockeys are the worst judges comes to the fore again. She is a daughter of High Chaparral who sired last years winner Rekindling.
- CROSS COUNTER- A 3yo International debutante just like last years winner Rekindling, perhaps the reason why McEvoy has jumped ship. I think he has the class having finished ahead of a horse called Kew Gardens last start. She went on to run a very good race in the Arc last start which is the strongest 2400m race in Europe, if not the world. He is going to have to set a historical precedent though and win this race without any form in Europe beyond 2400m, and I can’t see anything in his breeding on the Dam’s side to suggest that is going to happen. The barrier doesn’t help any either, so my thinking is he is under the odds.
- ROSTROPOVICH- The second of the three year olds who has at least had a run here. He has drawn similarly poorly, and he too is yet to be tested beyond 2400m, and his breeding is nearly as suspect on the Dam’s side. I don’t feel he should be double the odds of CC though, and the O’Brien’s wouldn’t be running him if they didn’t think he was a decent hope (They didn’t persevere with Idaho. another one of their runners). He wasn’t far behind Avilius in the Cox Plate, so can be considered as good a chance as he is, and perhaps open to more improvement.
No standout from me and it’s very tough this year once again. There are better races to put your hard earnt on even if they don’t offer the same return! I can’t find a 100% ideal historical candidate amongst them, but I guess the closest might be MARMELO (failure last year) and YOUNGSTAR (beaten too far last start?) I don’t have Marmelo in my top four though which looks like this;
- Best Solution
A very wet track would see me promote second and third selections to first and second.
Like last year I could be a million miles off though. I’m obviously hoping not!