It’s the week leading into the Melbourne Cup, and all I can say is this: carnage.
By the Thursday, the Bendigo Cup was run, and was taken out by the Mike Moroney trained Top Of The Range.
In doing so, the chances of Angel Of Truth, Raheen House and Brimham Rocks all took a serious broadside hit.
Angel Of Truth, winner of the ATC Derby in the Autumn has looked way off the pace this Spring, connections conceding that he wouldn’t line up on Tuesday.
Raheen House is too far down the pecking order while Brimham Rocks is a borderline prospect in the order of entry.
It looks unlikely that he’ll make the final field.
It looks like some horses originally scheduled to go around in the Hotham Handicap have benefited from the defections and scratchings further up the order of entry.
Youngstar, Vow And Declare, and The Chosen One being three of these.
Irish visitor Downdraft currently sits at 24 and would either: need another defection to cement his place in the field or, if he’s still sitting in the queue by Friday afternoon he will more than likely lineup in the Hotham.
If he doesn’t win, he will be replaced in the order of entry by the winner. Literally the last chance saloon.
During the week we saw the sensational scratchings of two European contenders, Marmelo and Ispolini. Racing Victoria came under heavy fire for the way that they managed the veterinarian process around these two horses.
It really wasn’t handled very well, and the threat of legal action made RV look like anateurs in the process.
It left a very sour taste in the mouth of connections for the two horses concerned, having come all this way and not to race is a complete waste of time and money.
That won’t go unnoticed by European connections who might be thinking of undertaking a round trip to Australia next year, but not with this sort of action hanging over their heads.
A huge disincentive I would suggest.
As of Friday 1st November, three withdrawals during the week were confirmed, including: Angel Of Truth, Marmelo, and Ispolini. Hugh Bowman, who was booked to ride Marmelo has instead picked up the ride on Twilight Payment.
As mentioned above, Top Of The Range took out the Bendigo Cup and as he was not in the final nominations for the Melbourne Cup he effectively put many other contenders out of contention.
As it turned out, the other placegetters and those horses who finished in behind will not line up in the Hotham Handicap, due to the short turnaround.
— 10 Sport (@10SportAU) November 2, 2019
Wet weather and a heavy track was the order of the day on VRC Derby Day.
The Joseph O’Brien trained and OTI Racing owned Downdraft (who we talked about above) did cement his spot and blew away all the contenders winning quite easily by 3 1/2 lengths.
The Irish team will be keeping it in the family with John Allen to ride on Tuesday.
However, three long distance races in 10 days (3rd Moonee Valley Gold Cup, 2st Hotham Handicap and Melbourne Cup) may eventually take its toll.
— 10 Sport (@10SportAU) November 2, 2019
Reminders of a wet Melbourne Cup day last year could come back to haunt punters and attendees at Flemington on Tuesday.
As mentioned above, it was wet on VRC Derby Day on Saturday, and the weather forecast is one that everyone will be keeping an eye on over the next few days.
Certainly a heavy track or a wet track will have all the European horses connections rubbing their hands with glee.
Many have wet track ability but not ultra heavy conditions like a Heavy 9, 10 or 11.
Much better to be slightly soft than a hard and fast track that’s for sure.
The 2018 Cup was run on a Soft 6, to give you a comparison.
OK, here is the final field
Here it is folks, as at 6pm Saturday 2nd November.
1. Cross Counter – 57.5kg (5) GBR
C 12:6-2-1 L10 12x1x1x434
T: C Appleby J: W Buick
2. Mer De Glace – 56kg (2) JPN
C 18:8-2-5 L10 211x11x1x1
T: H Shimizu J: D Lane
3. Master Of Reality – 55.5kg (1) IRL
C 12:3-1-2 L10 7250×14335
T: J O’Brien J: F Dettori
4. Mirage Dancer – 55.5kg (13) GBR
C 17:4-5-4 L10 2x0x1322x3
T: T Busuttin & N Young J: B Melham
5. Southern France – 55.5kg (14) IRL
C 14:3-3-3 L10 37×3264413
T: C Maher & D Eustace J: M Zahra
6. Hunting Horn – 55kg (11) IRL
C 22:3-2-5 L10 3344465881
T: A O’Brien J: S Heffernan
7. Latrobe – 55kg (22) IRL
C 15:3-6-1 L10 220×344216
T: J O’Brien J: J McDonald
8. Mustajeer – 55kg (6) GBR
C 20:4-3-3 L10 4x1x723516
T: K Lees J: D Oliver
9. Rostropovich – 55kg (12) IRL
C 18:4-2-2 L10 251557×790
T: D & B Hayes & T Dabernig J: D Dunn
10. Twilight Payment – 55kg (19) IRL
C 24:5-9-5 L10 423x2411x7
T: J O’Brien J: H Bowman
11. Finche – 54kg (4) GBR
C 14:4-1-3 L10 x1x34x5125
T: C Waller J: K McEvoy
12. Prince Of Arran – 54kg (8) GBR
C 37:6-7-5 L10 8x49x58321
T: C Fellowes J: M Walker
13. Raymond Tusk – 54kg (3) IRL
C 12:3-3-1 L10 1x6x237x4x
T: R Hannon J: J Spencer
14. Downdraft – 53.5kg (15) IRL
C 18:7-2-1 L10 x196112x31
T: J O’Brien J: J Allen
15. Magic Wand – 53.5kg (24) IRL
C 19:2-7-2 L10 2×53220224
T: A O’Brien J: R Moore
16. Neufbosc – 53.5kg (23) FRA
C 13:3-2-1 L10 2x30x80709
T: D & B Hayes & T Dabernig J: L Nolen
17. Sound – 53.5kg (10) DEU
C 24:7-2-1 L10 00x048x070
T: M Moroney J: J Winks
18. Surprise Baby – 53.5kg (20) NZL
C 10:5-1-1 L10 1514132×41
T: P Preusker J: J Childs
19. Constantinople – 52.5kg (7) IRL
C 9:2-4-1 L10 531×212224
T: D & B Hayes & T Dabernig J: J Moreira
20. Il Paradiso – 52.5kg (17) USA
C 8:2-2-2 L10 322×17135
T: A O’Brien J: W Lordan
21. Steel Prince – 52.5kg (16) IRL
C 21:8-5-1 L10 x11111x467
T: A Freedman J: B Prebble
22. The Chosen One – 52kg (18) NZL
C 16:5-2-0 L10 0141×59195
T: M Baker & A Forsman J: T Clark
23. Vow And Declare – 52kg (21)
C 12:3-3-2 L10 1x36621x42
T: D O’Brien J: C Williams
24. Youngstar – 52kg (9)
C 21:4-1-4 L10 x059x87873
T: C Waller J: T Berry
The all-important barrier draw has thrown up a few surprises.
Particularly those who drew the outside gates.
Some of the more fancied runners will either have to come across or drop back in behind and keep out of trouble.
So this includes the likes of Magic Wand, Surprise Baby, Latrobe and Vow And Declare.
Conversely, those that drew good barriers include the Japanese hot shot Mer De Glace, Master Of Reality, Finche, Cross Counter, Constantinople and Mustajeer.
On paper it looks like a quality field, despite all of the defections that we’ve seen over the last 3 months and on which we have reported through this website.
Our picks: Constantinople, Il Paradiso, Mer De Glacé, Prince Of Arran.
Our roughie: Youngstar (proven over distance, lightweight, dour, handles wet conditions).
Of the jockeys, here are a few that didn’t get a ride this year:
Glen Boss (suspended)
James Doyle (surprisingly not picked up)
Zac Purton (Hong Kong based)
Brenton Avdulla (Raheen House)
Blake Shinn (Hong Kong based)
Christophe Lemaire (Gold Mount)
That’s all for this final preview Melbourne Cup Watch Report.
Check back sometime next week after the race to read our final wrap-up report for the season.
Good luck to everyone with their investments on Tuesday.