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Melbourne Cup 2012

The first Tuesday of November brings us once again to the Holy Grail of thoroughbred horseracing in Australia, the Melbourne Cup, the race that literally stops a nation.

Few horse races in the world have the charisma of this great race and this can be confirmed with most of the field emanating from all corners of the planet – USA, Ireland, UK and mainland Europe. In fact I was at Royal Ascot on Black Caviar Day, June 23th, and no fewer than 5 of the Cup runners contested the 12 furlong G2 Hardwicke Stakes – Dunaden running 2nd to top stayer Sea Moon, Red Cadeaux was 3rd, Jakkalberry 5th, Fiorente 6th and (My) Quest For Peace 10th of the twelve runners.

Of course the $6,000,000 prize-money is also a major attraction, not to mention huge prize-money in the lead-up races to the Cup and some rich spoils to come in the few weeks afterwards – a good way for connections to wind down after a hard European racing season. Not too sure about the horses enjoying the fickle Melbourne weather though!

Many of the runners transferred out here months ago and have acclimatized well – last year’s winner and runner-up Dunaden and Red Cadeaux, the 2010 winner Americain, last year’s Caulfield Cup runner-up Green Moon, now based at the Lloyd Williams training complex. These runners have shown good form since last year with Green Moon winning the Turnbull Stakes and Dunaden coming from last in the turn for home to get up and claim the Caulfield Cup a few weeks ago.

All of the above and more is known about the above and others, however, there are 4 runners from north of the Equator we haven’t seen Down Under as yet and I’ve called them the Great Unknowns –

1) Cavalryman, owned by Godolphin, trained by Saeed Bin Suroor and to be ridden by mercurial Frankie Dettori. Godolphin have come close on 4 previous occasions – Central Park 2nd to Rogan Josh in 1999, Give The Slip 2nd to Ethereal in 2001, Beekeeper 3rd to Media Puzzle in 2002 and Crime Scene 2nd to Shocking in 2009. Remember too that Cavalryman finished 3rd in the 2009 Arc, beaten 2 lengths by superstar Sea The Stars. Cavalryman’s recent form in Europe is very good. This could be Frankie’s last chance to win it for Godolphin as he has now gone freelance and $51 is way over the odds.

2) Cup third favourite is Mount Athos and immediately when I saw his name it reminded me of another horse named Mount Athos, ridden by Aussie hoop Ron Hutchinson into 3rd place in an English Derby way back in either the 60s or 70s. Obviously not the same horse but this 6yo trained by Luca Cumani and to be ridden by UK champion jockey Ryan Moore has an undeniable chance on paper with a lenient 54kg. Luca deserves a win in the big ‘un having been nutted twice with Bauer and Purple Moon. European experts rate him highly reflected by the $8.50 with the satchel-swingers.

3) Fiorente trained by Gai Waterhouse and to be ridden by James McDonald, the Kiwi riding sensation. The new ownership reportedly paid in excess of $1million for this 5yo entire by German super-sire Monsun. European form is good and his last start 4th of 5 beaten 7 lengths over 2400 at Longchamp in the G2 Prix Foy mid-September may not make you rush to the TAB then think about the first three placings – 1st was Japanese champion Orfevre who was just caught in the shadows of the post in the Arc six weeks later, 2nd was top French stayer Moudre and third was international ‘I’ve been everywhere’ Joshua Tree. $26 on offer.

4) Galileo’s Choice trained by the wily vet from The Curragh, Dermot Weld, he of Vintage Crop (1993) and Media Puzzle (2002) fame. Like many of his horses Weld likes to give them a few hurdling races and this 7yo has won two. Lightly raced with 8 wins and 5 places from only 16 starts this fellow is thrown in with 53.5kg and Pat Smullen aboard. Appeals at $19.

And my selections –
1) Ethiopia to win. This will be this horses’s 8th race start but he won the Australian Derby over 2400m at only his 4th start and was ridden upside down on the pace in the Cox Plate last week but still finished 4th beaten just over 4 lengths. Pat Carey can train a stayer and Rhys Mcleod will put him to sleep midfield and charge down the outside in the long Flemington straight.

2) Mount Athos because of the weights.

3) Maluckyday who came back from near-death last year. We know he can run the distance having run 2nd to Americain in 2010.

4) Galileo’s Choice. I daren’t leave him out as he was my original selection and having been to The Curragh back in June where there stands a bronze statue of Vintage Crop and even a bar named for him.

5) Sanagas – this $51 shot could give Bart Cummings his baker’s dozen of Melbourne Cups. Bart has piled 7,600m of racing into him since arriving from USA and twelve months ago he won the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup after doing his earlier racing in Germany.

Good punting!
Carbine
Andrew Beattie

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