Welcome to Report #20. We are nearly three months out from the Melbourne Cup, and things are starting to heat up.
On Thursday (29th August), the VRC announced the first nominations list for the big race.
There are three immediate talking points.
Firstly, the prize money is now $8 million, making it the richest handicap in the world, and the fourth richest overall behind the Pegasus Cup, The Everest and the Dubai World Cup.
The total nominations has decreased from last years 183 down to 152, which equates to a near 17% decrease.
There are probably a number of reasons why this is so, including increasing competition from Northern Hemisphere race meetings, trainers worrying about the weight allocation, the timing and the long travel schedule.
Thirdly, the list of nominations is notable for those horses not nominated.
We have written about some of these in our earlier Cup Watch Reports.
They include: Amade, Count Octave, Dee Ex Bee, Rondinella, Capri, Falcon Eight, Lord Belvedere, Withhold, Sovereign, Magic Circle and Dubhe.
There maybe a few others but these are the ones that stand out to us.
Falcon Eight and Dee Ex Bee were scrubbed out from travelling to Australia after suffering bleeding attacks during the recent Ebor Handicap.
Of course it goes without saying that the world’s top stayer in Stradivarius is also not on the list, but that’s to be expected.
He really has nothing to prove by turning up to Melbourne, considering the success that he’s had in England.
The PDF of the listed nominations is available online. Click here.
We’ve written about the merits of this race, and how it is used to gauge British form for horses coming out to Australia.
It’s been a good guide, but not a totally reliable guide considering that in recent years the past winners have measured up ok when they’ve got to Melbourne, but they haven’t taken out the big prize.
We include names such as Heartbreak City, Nakeeta and Muntahaa.
The winner of this year’s race was a 20/1 shot Irish trained galloper called Mustajeer, who has since been bought by Australian Bloodstock and will transfer to the Newcastle stable of Kris Lees.
He was chased home by Red Galileo and Desert Skyline, all three are nominated for the Melbourne Cup.
On this performance, Mustajeer has joined Cross Counter and Marmelo in the favouritism ranks.
The Group 2 Prix Kergolay was recently won by the current Melbourne Cup favourite Marmelo.
It wasn’t a big field by any stretch (eight), so the merits of the win are dubious because of that.
Trainer Huey Morrison was reported during the week as saying that Marmelo would basically now go into quarantine, hop on the plane and will line up in the Melbourne Cup without any participation in lead-up races, much like he did last year.
This will be his third go in the race, and at 9 years old he’s not getting any younger, so this would probably be his last chance to take the prize.
Now we wait..
Now that we are at the start of the new racing season, we are in the midst of what is known as the ‘silly season’, where there is a slight break as we shift from winter racing to spring racing in Australia, and also allow for the travel of the European raiders to get to Australia at the beginning of October.
Then we get to the pointy end of the Spring carnival.
Star horses, in particular the longer distance and staying types are running in shorter distance races which inevitably don’t mean a hell of a lot.
At this time of the year, the tracks are heavy and typically unsuitable, the distances are shorter, the horses are not in racing trim, so the results aren’t going to be what punters expect.
Personally, I wouldn’t read too much into some of these earlier season races, and wait until about October when races like the Turnbull Stakes, the Caulfield Stakes, the Herbert Power Handicap and The Metropolitan kick in.
That’s when we know when things get real serious.
Here are the latest all-in odds.
Shakers and movers include some of the gallopers mentioned above, but it’s still early days. [note, the page has been updated by SportsBet]
That’s all for this weeks Melbourne Cup Watch Report. Keep checking in with Kruzey.com.au for more, as we count down to the first Tuesday in November.