Melbourne Cup 2019

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 some 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 one of the most pertinent statistic in recent history. Eight of the last thirteen winners have been Stallions (a horse that hasn’t been gelded). 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.

Added to that factor that five of the last eight (Stallion) winners have been either five or six years of age and Eight of the last Sixteen 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.

Weights
The most telling statistic is that 14 of the past 18 winners have dropped in weight before winning the Cup. Thirteen 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 this year of 52kg. 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.

Form
15 of the past 18 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.

Imported Horses
Only three imported horse have managed to win the race without having a run here and that was Vintage Crop in 1993 and the three year olds Rekindling and Cross Current in last two years. Five of the International  runner that have won 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.

Added to that fact no imported horse (until Rekindling and Cross Counter)  had won this 3200m race without having won or placed at 3000m and beyond, either in Europe or Japan.

Of the Eight International winners, 4 had won at their previous start, and all finished in the first 4 placings..The three that didn’t win were beaten less than a length.

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).

Australasian Horses
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
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.

Wet Tracks

The last genuinely very 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.

Breeding
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 Mother

Lead 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 nine) 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 eight winners, and all had one run here in preparation for this race.

Barrier
Is probably the least significant of the historical data assessed, but it’s worth noting that only one horse  in this 18-year period has won drawing inside barrier 3 (Prince of Penzance in 2015), and only three have won outside of barrier 14. All three winners from outside barrier 14 carried very low weights (Brew, Shocking And Cross Counter).

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 could help us to find the winner this year, but admittedly these stats are becoming less and less relevant.

  1. Be aged three to six and preferably be an entire (Stallion)
  2. Dropping in weight, preferably 2.5kg or more.
  3. Carrying less than 58kg and preferably less than 57kg.
  4. Imports not trained in Australia preferable to have won or placed in a race at 3000m or beyond, unless they are aged four (in our hemisphere)
  5. Locals would preferably have overseas breeding on both sides of their immediate pedigree, and form at Flemington is advantageous.

6. Any horse by the sire Monsun would have to earn credit

7. It’s best for an imported runner to have had one run in this country

8. Preferably  drawn between barriers three and fourteen-

9. Had its last run in either the Cox Plate, Geelong Cup, Caulfield Cup, or Lexus Stakes-

10. Finished in the first 4 placings last start

 

Tempo- 

There looks to be enough speed in this race to suggest it will be truly run. On paper the Aiden O’Brien trio of Magic Wand, Hunting Horn and Il Paridiso will go forward, and two of those are drawn wide so might have to make haste early to get to the rail. Prince Of Arran, Finche and Master Of Reality are drawn well and can also race on pace. Raymond Tusk can race handy from his barrier draw, and Rostropovich and Mirage Dancer (both drawn out a bit), also tend to go forward. Cross Counter can also race handy enough and probably will from his inside barrier. Interestingly two of the Aiden O’Brien runners mentioned are a doubt at two miles so might not want to be setting too fast a pace, and if they are leading could throw out the anchor at some stage. That might not be good for the midfield and backmarker types. A horse like Finche probably needs to ensure a fast pace though as he is a little dour and could get outsprinted late  I’m hopeful a reasonable tempo will eventuate.

Track Condition;

Not sure too many people are taking notice of the fact the surface is going to be quite rain affected and it might help us narrow down the chances a bit. It might be slightly better than Saturday, but that might be the best we can hope for.

Analysis;

I don’t want to waste too much time on hard analysis in this post though I have done plenty of it, as have a lot of other pundits. I have it down to about 12 solid winning chances, and could go on an on about the chances of respective horses.

From the summary of history stats above I would have it a toss up between DOWNDRAFT and RAYMOND TUSK. My comments about them;

Downdraft– The barrier is a little wider than ideal but everything else seems to line up well. He hasn’t won beyond 2800m but I’m not sure that’s relevant now with his two runs here within a week, and he has won at Flemington so now almost counts as a local with that grounding. If he can handle the backup from Saturday this race might well be his, dropping 5.5kg in weight. Horses that carry a big weight to win that race always run well in this. He needs a fast run race and should get it. It looks as though he might have beaten the handicapper. In Ireland he beat a horse called The King in May and it had been beaten less than 2 lengths by Magical prior. That horse is a very good yardstick to the best European form, and I think that tells us he probably has the class to win this race. Can he back up though is the question? It’s hard to say but his half brother did have three runs in the space of eight days in 2013 and won two of them. The third was a 1.35L defeat when coming back 800m in distance. The two wins were at 3200m so an educated guess says this horse will run two miles. We already know he can handle a Flemington wet track. He is also a very good price.

Raymond Tusk- He is a lightly raced Stallion by the same sire as debutante Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling two years ago. He has a sibling that only won races at 4400-4800m on very wet tracks, so the breeding is stout to say the least, and he has a placing at the trip anyway. He has drawn barrier 3 and all his wins have been from the inside barriers 1 & 2. At his last five starts he has drawn one of the two outside barriers. Last start in a big field in the Ebor he was way back in last from barrier 21 which isn’t his normal pattern. He was beaten 2 lengths at the end of it and surely if he drew inside that day he just about wins that race. He gets no weight penalty because he didn’t. He looks very well in at the weights having WFA form in Europe. His debut win says a good track in some of our formguides but I beg to differ as one says Good to Soft and the time indicates that.  The recent Crystal Mile winner Chief Ironside was behind him that day. He has to break a drought as a 5 year old to win here on debut in this race, but Marmelo nearly did it as a 6 year old last year.

We also have two European three year olds engaged and that type of horse has won the past two editions. This year the handicapper awoke though and penalised them 1-1.5kg this time around. That might end their hopes in essence, but not necessarily. They are;

Constantinople– Has had the one run here in the Caulfield Cup and arguably should have won it.  The consensus is he isn’t genuine, and too unruly, and yes it was quite evident he wasn’t happy bottled up early between horses, but coming to the turn he had no option but to climb over the backs of other horses at a crucial time and that was never going to work. He finished off as well as you could expect, and for mine was taking ground off the winner with a few other horses. The tactics were wrong on the day too although the gear changes may well have been an asset. People were saying before that race he needed 3200m. Well he get’s that now and just as many want to say he won’t run the trip because of his attitude. What happened to him at Caulfield wasn’t of his own making, it was just pure bad luck. He also gets every chance to run the trip from a good barrier, and has an exceptionally talented jockey aboard who has done his homework. He also has a Sibling that has won to 3700m. With ordinary luck he looks very hard to beat and the one run here (having received no penalty) might be to his advantageous particularly so as he wasn’t fully extended in the straight.  He also meets the winner 1kg better which might be crucial at the death. He has some form on a wet tracks and his full brother Bondi Beach won twice on very wet tracks. Given his reputation for being a bit headstrong some give in the track might actually be what he needs.

Il Paridiso– Also carries great European form into the race including an excellent third to the world’s best two miler Stradivarius at that distance and he had won at 3200m prior to that. Last start he was a bit disappointing but I actually think he toughed that race out really well, not giving away any further ground over the concluding stages. It seems he just hit the lead too early there and the two gear changes he took into that race might not have worked. He has Blinkers on for this which may or may not be an asset. The barrier isn’t ideal for him but perhaps he can get some cover in the race behind the leaders. He would probably win the race on looks with his white blaze and chestnut colouring. I prefer Constantinople over him but not by much. Trackwork reports are not too flash about him but I’m not reading too much into that. His wet form looks okay so that isn’t likely to be an issue tomorrow. The extra 1kg might prevent him from winning but at least he comes into the race four months older than Cross Current last year.

A comment on a few of the others;

Finche– He has a few knockers who say he doesn’t have the turn of foot necessary and isn’t good enough. It might pay them to look at his Caulfield Cup run and compare it to Brimham Rocks. That horse wouldn’t be winning this race, but is handy, and he dropped out of the race in the straight (and he has run very well since- should have won!). This horse didn’t and he had a tougher run in transit. His preparation is timed to the minute and I see the wet track as an asset to him. If he isn’t quite as fast as some of the others it brings them back to him, and two of his best runs here have been on wet tracks. He has drawn a lot better than last year and has a jockey aboard who knows how to win this race.  People say he is no valu,e but double figures probably is good enough in my opinion.

Magic Wand– I saw somebody say today that all her form is at 2000m-What rubbish given her two wins are at 2300m and 2400m! The two miles looks a stretch for sure, but the whole reason for bringing her here is her class and turn of foot, and the fact she might be able to use it on a flat track like Flemington. It might hurt some Aussie punters to think that a Flemington 3200m race isn’t the greatest stamina test in the world, but that is a fact I’m afraid. She would really have benefitted from a good barrier though and now the rain has come it looks disadvantageous to her. She brings some of the best International form here, and that was pretty evident with her run in the Cox Plate. If she gets a soft lead or a run with cover off a soft pace, she could still surprise, and I think Ryan Moore did choose to ride her over Hunting Horn and the three year old Il Paradiso.

Cross Counter– His win last year would arguably rate as the greatest ever. He came from near last and had to avoid interference from the fallen horse early on. To win as dominantly as he did suggests he is a very high class horse. His form this year suggests so and you just have to ignore his last start defeat where he probably would have won but for a torrid run. He was competitive at level weights with Stradivarius earlier this year and Il Paradiso was soundly beaten by the same horse with 7kg weight relief. CC gives IP 5kg in this so looks quite well in against him. On paper he looks horribly weightedwith 57.5kg  but this year topweight to bottom is only 5.5kg which is probably the smallest gap ever. He can win, but he probably needs to be right at his best and everything to go right.. Unlike last year he has drawn perfectly and he can race a lot more forward. Wet tracks don’t appear to be an issue and his price seems generous

 

Prince Of Arran– He looks a great chance on his overall form here and he comes off two great runs in very fast run 2400m races. He has a better preparation than last year, and has drawn better on the day. The rain might have cruelled his chances though. The track last year was rain affected but I doubt to the same extent given the time they ran. He received a 1kg penalty off his Geelong Cup run but basically has the same weight as last year given the bottom weights have been given an extra kilo.

Vow And Declare- Another with a solid hope with all the talk his preparation is perfect. Is it though, coming in here third up? The barrier draw didn’t help, and the fact one of his close foes Mr Quickie was soundly beaten in the M/Valley cup might mean he just isn’t good enough. He has some wet form but not in this class. A few things against him but I’m on him @ $51 before the Turnbull.

I’m going to risk the Japanese horse Mer De Glace at two miles and a wet track. Just watching the finish of the Caulfield Cup I think he had had enough at that trip. He was a distance doubt at a mile and a half, and now he is the favourite at two miles off a win where he got clear running, and others didn’t He is a winning chance though of course. Surprise Baby will have his admirers and his chances look pretty good comparing him to 2017 winner Almandin. He hasn’t beaten this type of quality though, and all his recent wins have been on dry ground (has won 1200m on Heavy). Realistically he should have at least 1.5kg less so he has the job ahead. Interestingly his sire Shocking won this race  from a very wide barrier and he is faced with the same scenario here. He had 51kg though whilst this horse has 53.5kg.

 

Summing up;

Basically I have honestly no idea. I say this nearly every year, but this time around it’s an even worse task even if you have done your research extremely well. Yesterday I was in the corner of Cross Counter, but I’m only luke warm about him now. That’s the extent of my confusion. I’ll go with this top five loosely based on history and the wet track. The top pick seems to be the best value in the race to me.

  1. DOWNDRAFT (should he be half the price?).
  2. RAYMOND TUSK (I thought he would have been a better price but he is drifting).
  3. Constantinople
  4. Finche
  5. Cross Counter

 

And two of these I haven’t backed yet!

 

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