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It's a Melbourne Cup that's full to the brim of talent. Get the rundown here on all 24 horses competing in the race that stops the nation.
Sir Dragonet wins the Cox Plate.Credit:Getty Images
A rare Melbourne Cup runner for Caulfield handler Mick Price, better known as a top trainer of sprinters and milers, and a first in the great race for his young training assistant Michael Kent jnr. Won her way into the Cup last April when she landed the 2800m Andrew Ramsden Stakes, which guarantees the winner a spot. Had shown improved form as a four-year-old mare when given assignments over 2000m, and put up her best performance this spring in the Moonee Valley Cup when she got the chance to step beyond 2000m, running third behind another Cup-bound mare in Miami Bound.
Capped a remarkable six months by winning the Bart Cummings in early October, another race that guarantees the winner a Melbourne Cup start. Was still to win a race after 10 starts until he went to Bendigo on a heavy track in May and broke his duck in a 1600m maiden. Since then he has gone from strength to strength, winning five of his last eight starts and running second in the other three. Tough, resolute, game-on pacer who has a light weight and will be prominent for much of the way.
Already a history maker as the first winner of the Epsom Derby to run in the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, the four-year old son of Galileo is looking to give O'Brien his first win in Australia's greatest race. Has top weight of 58.5 kilograms but has earned it with an array of top-flight performances.
His greatest triumph came in the 2400m Derby, but he put up arguably a better performance when going down in a photo finish to Verry Elleegant in the Caulfield Cup, coming from the back of the field and the outside draw. Will be hard to beat.
Last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare.Credit:Justin McManus
Last year's Melbourne Cup winner when given a superb ride by Craig Williams, Vow And Declare has suffered the fate of many Cup winners after their greatest triumph: they go up in the weights and find it hard to win again. The locally bred stayer will be partnered this time by Michael Rodd, who knows what it takes having ridden Efficient to victory 13 years ago for Lloyd Williams. Vow And Declare won in a blanket finish last year after finishing an excellent second in the Caulfield Cup; this year he finished down the track at Caulfield and his best performance since his Cup win was a third in the Australian Cup in March. Will be suited to Flemington, however.
A huge fancy two years ago, he suffered interference early and never really got into the contest. Is proven at 2400m and at Flemington and may have flown under the radar a little this time round. Will be the only representative of the giant global Godolphin operation after their UK-based trainers Charlie Appleby (successful with Cross Counter in 2018) and Saeed bin Suroor (who won the Caulfield Cup with Best Solution in 2018) decided coronavirus restrictions made it too difficult and dangerous to have staff travel with the horses. To be ridden by former jump jockey John Allen, Avilius was unlucky in the Caulfield Cup when a fast-finishing sixth and is a proven group 1 performer, so could bely his odds and run a big race.
Would be a fairytale winner for owner John Wheeler on his 71st birthday and must have an excellent chance to give Danny O'Brien, who won with Vow And Declare last year, back-to-back wins. To be partnered by the champion Damien Oliver, Russian Camelot looms as one of the home brigade's biggest chances after his close-up third to imports Sir Dragonet and Armory, in the Cox Plate, after he drew a wide gate and had spend a lot of petrol early.
The distance should not pose a problem for the son of Camelot, who won over 2500m in the South Australian Derby and can be expected to lap up the extra ground.
One who will be carrying the famous Lloyd Williams colours, the Irish-trained stayer should be right in this race up to his ears. Will have no trouble with the trip having finished a narrow second last year under Frankie Dettori only to be disqualified for causing interference and being placed fourth. Trained by Joseph O'Brien, the son of Aidan, who has made a brilliant start to his training career and made an early mark in Australia when he won the Cup for Williams with Rekindling in 2017.
The other Williams/Joseph O'Brien candidate, he too has very solid claims. When he ran at Flemington in 2019 he had only just been bought by Williams. He drew a wide barrier and was ridden prominently, being outrun in the closing stages to be beaten by less than three lengths. This time, his preparation has been fully geared to a return trip to Melbourne. He beat Master Of Reality easily at The Curragh in July and last time out was third in the group 1 Irish St Leger, form which puts him right in the conversation for a race like the Melbourne Cup.
Tiger Moth at trackwork in Werribee ahead of the Cup.Credit:Getty Images
An improving northern hemisphere three-year-old stayer, Tiger Moth seems to tick most of the boxes to give Aidan O'Brien his first Melbourne Cup win after some narrow misses. He will be ridden by three-time Cup-winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy, he has a light weight (52.5kg) and he is in the age group that has won two of the last three Cups. Against him is his relative lack of experience. The Melbourne Cup will be only his fifth race start and he only broke his duck in June with a maiden victory over 2400m at The Curragh in Ireland. He followed with a close second to stablemate Santiago in the Irish Derby and in September had a group 3 win over 2400m.
A long shot, and his recent form explains why as he has not hit the frame in his last five starts. His last placing came in April in the group 1 HE Tancred Stakes when he was soundly beaten by Verry Elleegant en route to the Sydney Cup, where he finished fifth to the mare Etah James and The Chosen One. Earlier in his career he was trained in Ireland by Ger Lyons, and it was there that Mustajeer earned his greatest success when landing the Ebor Handicap at York, a race that often throws up leading Cup fancies. But that was in August 2019, after which he was sold to Australian Bloodstock and travelled to the Australian stable of Kris Lees. He ran in last year's Cup where he was partnered by Damien Oliver but finished 23rd.
An interesting contender from the predominantly jumps stables of Irish wizard Willie Mullins. Stratum Albion mixes flat racing with hurdling but seems to be better on the level.
He is not unlike Max Dynamite, whom Mullins sent over for the Cup to run second behind Prince of Penzance when Michelle Payne made history with her win on the 100-1 shot in 2015. Max Dynamite was then third two years later behind Rekindling. Stratum Albion is owned by Tony Bloom, the owner of Premier League club Brighton and Hove Albion, hence this horse's Australian suffix.
The hardy old warrior is back for his third tilt at the Melbourne Cup and plenty believe this might be the year he gets the win he has come so close to achieving. Victory would make his rider, Jamie Kah, the second female jockey to take out the great race while it would be a significant feather in the cap of young English trainer Charlie Fellowes. Promoted to second place with Master Of Reality's demotion last year, in 2018 he finished third to Cross Counter, so the two miles at Flemington holds no terrors for him. A fast-finishing fourth in the Caulfield Cup last start, that is his worst finishing position in seven starts in this country.
Prince of Arran finished second in the Melbourne Cup. Credit:Getty Images
One of the few in this field to have done all his racing in Australia, Warning should be better for a return to the wider expanses of Flemington and the increased distance. Anthony Freedman, his trainer, was part of the fabled FBI (Freedman Brothers Incorporated, headed by his older sibling Lee) who won Melbourne Cups with Tawriffic, Doriemus and twice with Makybe Diva so he certainly knows what is required on the big day. Warning won the Victoria Derby last year on a soft track with Oliver in the saddle, and he has been set for the Cup since. His best performances since Derby Day last year have been in the SA Derby behind Russian Camelot and in the Turnbull Stakes, where he was only a length behind Verry Elleegant and Finche.
Another major local hopes. Trained in the western districts by Paul Preusker, it would be a fairytale if the gelding could go four better than his unlucky fifth place last year. Preusker has targeted this day ever since and has raced Surprise Baby sparingly, the son of former Cup winner Shocking having only had two starts since.Distance won't be a problem, neither will the track and jockey Craig Williams, successful on Vow And Declare last year, knows how to get the job done.
A more than solid back-up to Verry Elleegant for Waller, and it would be no surprise if he finished ahead of her. The former French galloper still races in the colours of Khaled Abdulla, the green and pink silks made famous globally by Frankel among others.Since coming to Australia he has been a group 1 and Cups regular, having finished fourth and seventh in the Melbourne Cup and fifth twice in the Caulfield Cup. He has also been narrowly beaten twice in the Turnbull Stakes, so Flemington suits him down to the ground.
Surprise winner of the Sydney Cup on a heavy track at Randwick in April, this New Zealand-bred mare has plenty of statistics to buck if she is to repeat her Sydney success on Tuesday. No mare has won since Makybe Diva 15 years ago, and no horse of her age – she is eight – has saluted since Catalogue took the prize in 1938. But horses don't read the stats books, and the Ciaron Maher/David Eustace galloper is one who will definitely stay the trip. She had a good break after that Sydney Cup win and had a pipe opener in the Metropolitan, finishing down the track there before showing improved form to be a running-on fourth behind Miami Bound and Oceanex in the Moonee Valley Cup.
The VRC Oaks winner is another Danny O'Brien candidate, the trainer fast gaining a reputation for his skill and horsemanship in preparing stayers. She has history to overcome as VRC Oaks winners have not been that successful in recent years – Light Fingers, who won in 1965, being the last Oaks winner to win the following year. Miami Bound was beaten by the colts and geldings twice in the autumn and was unplaced in four starts this spring before hitting her straps on affected ground in the Moonee Valley Cup last time out when she sprang a $26 surprise under Kah.
Prepared by New Zealand trainer Murray Baker, The Chosen One is one of those low-key classic Kiwi stayers who catches better-fancied rivals out – as he almost did in the Caulfield Cup. Dashing clear at the 250m mark the Daniel Stackhouse-ridden gelding was only headed by Verry Elleegant and Anthony Van Dyck at 100 to go and went down by just under a length. The distance of the Cup will not be a problem – he ran second to Etah James in the Sydney Cup over 3200m, beaten by just a head – and was just over five lengths adrift of Vow And Declare in last year's Melbourne Cup.
A second representative for the father-son training duo of Anthony and Sam Freedman, Steel Prince also started his career in Ireland. Interestingly his debut performance saw him finish third to Homesman, then trained by Aidan O'Brien, in a Limerick maiden. Few would have predicted that just over three years later Steel Prince would be preparing to line up for his second Melbourne Cup while Homesman, now a stable companion, would have finished second in a Caulfield Cup and won at group 2 level at Moonee Valley last weekend. Steel Prince ran well in the Cup last year when a close-up ninth. This year he won the Geelong Cup, getting the penalty he needed to go up the order of entry. Will be worse long shots.
Another to carry the Williams silks and a fourth runner for Danny O'Brien, King of Leogrance is a former French stayer and yet another in this field sired by Camelot, the ex-Coolmore Derby-winning hero. King Of Leogrance won at listed level in his home country but has done the bulk of his racing in Australia where he showed that distance racing was his forte.
At his fifth start in this country he won over 2500m at Flemington and followed it up shortly after with a soft victory in the 3200m Adelaide Cup.
He was narrowly beaten by Oceanex in the Ramsden this year, but showed he was coming good at the right time with a close third to Steel Prince and Le Don De Vie in the Geelong Cup.
English-trained galloper who ran awfully in the Caulfield Cup when a long last – an uncharacteristically poor display which prompted several questions. However checks have shown him to be in fine fettle and he has pleased big-race jockey Michael Walker with the Kiwi rider predicting a bold performance on Tuesday. Has good form at high level in Europe but his last effort will have judges shaking their heads if he can turn things round.
Got into the field by the skin of his teeth after a last-gasp win in the Lexus Hotham Stakes on Saturday, the last-roll-of-the-dice race to make the field. From the German stable of Andreas Wohler, who won the Cup in 2014 with Protectionist, Ashrun should lack for nothing in stamina given that the Lexus was over 2500m. Not as speedy as his Cup-winning stablemate, according to Wohler, he is dour and will appreciate the weight drop. Having carried 61 kilos on Saturday he will only shoulder 53 on Tuesday. Another pointer in his favour is that he has had a run in the Geelong Cup, a race that has produced Cup winners and placegetters in recent years.
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