Unseasonably cool temperatures and a spot of showers is unlikely to dampen too much enthusiasm for the Melbourne Cup (G1), “The Race That Stops a Nation,” which will be held Tuesday afternoon at Flemington. The A$6 million two-mile handicap has a post time of 11 p.m. (EST) Monday evening in the U.S., and can be watched and wagered on at TwinSpires.com.
I had some rather fortunate luck in the Cup last year tabbing Almandin, and hope to get a little win streak going in one of the racing world’s great spectacles. As I noted last year, I prefer to spread my investment around on several horses in the Win pool given the size of the field. With one scratch over the weekend, 23 horses are set to line up.
Almandin (#2) is back to defend his title, this time with Frankie Dettori in the saddle substituting for the suspended Damien Oliver. Aside from a disappointing run in his final prep, his form has been solid this spring. While certainly capable, he carries 10 more pounds than last year and no horse not named Makybe Diva has repeated in the Cup in more than 40 years. I’m inclined to stand against despite a likely bettable upper single-digit price.
Currently trading in the same range is Marmelo (#5). Winner of the Prix Kergolay (G2) at Deauville (previously captured by future Cup winners Protectionist and Americain), his strong-closing sixth in the Caulfied Cup (G1) has enticed quite a few punters in early betting and at this writing he’s the favorite.
Protectionist’s trainer, Andreas Wohler, will saddle Belmont Gold Cup (G3) winner Red Cardinal (#6), fifth to Marmelo in the Prix Kergolay. Another intriguing Euro invader is Tiberian (#4), who’s won four of five in France this year, including the Grand Prix de Deauville (G2) last out.
The two that will likely get most of my play, however, are BIG DUKE (#13) and MAX DYNAMITE (#9). Third over very heavy ground in the two-mile Sydney Cup (G1) last autumn, Big Duke has rounded into better form of late, and was an unlucky fourth in last week’s Moonee Valley Cup (G2) when lacking a clear run.
Max Dynamite was the runner-up to 100-1 winner Prince of Penzance in the 2015 Melbourne Cup, losing by a half-length. He’s raced only four times in the past two years, all in Europe, placing once on the flat and winning a minor hurdle at Killarney last time. While losing to Prince of Penzance doesn’t exactly flatter him, we know he likes the course and trip and his present form is sufficiently clouded to ensure a higher price in this renewal.
Good luck to all!
(Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images photo)