Australia Melbourne Cup field, form and comment 2020

12:16  31 october  2020
12:16  31 october  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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Explore our interactive guide to the horses chasing Australian racing's greatest prize, with the field declared for the 160th running of the Melbourne Cup.


$8: 1. Anthony Van Dyck

5yo stallion (Ireland) | Barrier 3 | 58.5kg | J: Hugh Bowman | T: Aidan O'Brien

Anthony Van Dyck is one of the best credentialled European horses to travel to Australia in recent times.

A winner of the English Derby last year, his connections decided to forgo some prestigious prizes during Europe's COVID-affected season to target our greatest race.

He looked to have acclimatised well and beat all bar Verry Elleegant in the Caulfield Cup (2,400m) a fortnight ago, surging home from the tail of the field.

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However, Anthony Van Dyck is unproven at the 3,200-metre distance and must carry a weight not done successfully since Think Big went back to back in 1975.

$34: 2. Avilius

7yo gelding (Great Britain) | Barrier 10 | 57kg | J: John Allen | T: James Cummings

Avilius makes his second Cup appearance after being knocked out of the race in 2018 (22nd).

Since then he has developed into one of the country's better performed horses at the elite level, although he has not been in the winner's stall for more than a year.

Yet, Avilius showed he was worthy after another Cup tilt when being unlucky not to have finished closer than sixth in the Caulfield Cup (2,400m) a fortnight ago — a rain-affected track on Tuesday would be to his advantage.

Victory would give trainer James Cummings, the grandson of Cups king Bart Cummings, his first win in the great race.

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$34: 3. Vow And Declare

5yo gelding (Australia) | Barrier 4 | 57kg | J: Jamie Mott | T: Danny O'Brien

Vow And Declare is aiming to become only the sixth horse to win multiple Melbourne Cups, but he doesn't appear to be in the same bullish form as he was a year ago.

On top of that, he has to carry five kilograms more than he did in 2019 when he defied the challenge of Master Of Reality and Prince of Arran in a tight finish.

The five-year-old has only placed once in six subsequent starts and jockey Craig Williams has opted to ride Surprise Baby instead.

Connections are hoping Vow And Declare can turn his form around with more aggressive tactics on Tuesday and make the race a genuine staying contest.

$26: 4. Master Of Reality

6yo gelding (Ireland) | Barrier 11 | 56kg | J: Ben Melham | T: Joseph O'Brien

Master Of Reality could arguably have won last year's Cup had he run straight and not caused interference in the closing stages, resulting in him being relegated from second to fourth.

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He meets Vow And Declare 5kg better at the weights this year and comes here on the back of some fair form in Europe, including one win, although his colours were lowered twice by stablemate Twilight Payment.

But expect Master Of Reality to be primed to make amends for last year and give owner Lloyd Williams a seventh Cup success.

His young trainer Joseph O'Brien has already won the Cup (Rekindling 2017), ironically at the expense of his jockey on Tuesday, Ben Melham, who rode Johannes Vermeer into second place that day.

$8: 5. Sir Dragonet

5yo stallion (Ireland) | Barrier 14 | 55.5kg | J: Glen Boss | T: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Sir Dragonet was a much-hyped horse in Europe last year and started favourite in some major races — including the English Derby at his third career start — but often seemed to find one better.

Bought by Australian interests earlier this year, this well-bred stallion surged into Cup contention with an arrogant victory in the Cox Plate (2,040m) just over a week ago.

Having shed his non-winner tag, Sir Dragonet is among the favourites for Tuesday's race even though he is untested over the 3,200-metre distance.

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Glen Boss, a three-time Cup hero aboard Makybe Diva, retains the ride and will be hoping his horse can show the same burst of speed he showed at his Australian debut.

$34: 6. Twilight Payment

8yo gelding (Ireland) | Barrier 12 | 55.5kg | J: Jye McNeil | T: Joseph O'Brien

Owned by six-time winner Lloyd Williams, Twilight Payment has a decent overall record, winning seven and placing 16 times from 30 starts — many of which came in smallish fields in his native Ireland.

This will be the horse's second visit to Australia after finishing 11th in last year's Melbourne Cup at long odds behind Vow And Declare.

Twilight Payment's five runs this year have resulted in two victories, including one over stablemate Master Of Reality over 2,800 metres in Ireland in July.

His trainer, Joseph O'Brien, unlike his famous father Aidan, has already won a Melbourne Cup with Rekindling (2017).

$13: 7. Verry Elleegant

5yo mare (New Zealand) | Barrier 15 | 55.5kg | J: Mark Zahra | T: Chris Waller

The modestly bred Verry Elleegant is considered one of the best horses in the country, and certainly one of the most adept on rain-affected tracks.

A fortnight ago she added to her impressive record with a dogged win in the Caulfield Cup (2,400m), defying the likes of Anthony Van Dyck and Prince Of Arran.

But despite her class, the weight of history is literally against her. Only one mare has carried more weight to victory in this race — Makybe Diva carried 58kg to win her third Cup in 2005.

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The data also says that 30 mares have contested the Cup since 2005 and none have finished in the top three.

$51: 8. Mustajeer

8yo gelding (Great Britain) | Barrier 2 | 55kg | J: Michael Rodd | T: Kris Lees

Bought by Australian interests, this former European galloper was well-fancied when he came out for last year's Caulfield Cup (sixth) and Melbourne Cup (23rd).

Mustajeer remained in Australia under the care of Newcastle trainer Kris Lees, with his lone victory Down Under coming back in February over 1,900 metres in Sydney.

The eight-year-old started at 100-1 in the Caulfield Cup (2,400m) a fortnight ago and finished eighth, beaten four lengths behind Verry Elleegant.

He hit the line fairly that day despite not having the clearest of runs, however Mustajeer will likely need some rain on the track to have a chance of figuring in the placings.

$34: 9. Stratum Albion

8yo gelding (Great Britain) | Barrier 9 | 55kg | J: Jordan Childs | T: Willie Mullins

One of five eight-year-olds in the race, this lightly raced gelding will be out to etch his own piece of history; only two eight-year-olds have won the Cup — the most recent was in 1938.

Legendary Irish trainer Willie Mullins puts the polish on Stratum Albion, who has run three times this year, two of those over hurdles before finishing in front of Dashing Willoughby in August.

It's not the typical preparation for a Melbourne Cup, but no-one can question the judgment of Mullins, who came close to winning the Cup in 2015 when second with Max Dynamite.

Stratum Albion has been put on a similar training regime, with the stable confident of a forward showing — a rain-affected track will also help his chances.

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$151: 10. Dashing Willoughby

5yo gelding (Great Britain) | Barrier 19 | 54.5kg | J: Michael Walker | T: Andrew Balding

Another of the international entrants, Dashing Willoughby disappointed at his Australian debut, weakening noticeably to finish last in the Caulfield Cup (2,400m) behind Verry Elleegant.

Vets could find nothing wrong with the English-trained runner and he goes into the Cup with jockey Michael Walker believing he can turn things around.

Dashing Willoughby had won two of his three starts in Europe this year, including one in which he lowered the colours of 2018 Cup winner Cross Counter over 2,400 metres in July.

Nevertheless, he'll have to improve drastically to figure prominently on Tuesday, although he does have a victory to his name over the 3,200-metre distance.

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$15: 11. Finche

7yo gelding (Great Britain) | Barrier 6 | 54.5kg | J: James McDonald | T: Chris Waller

Finche has already contested two Melbourne Cups, finishing fourth in 2018 and seventh last year behind Vow And Declare.

He profiles similarly this year after running a brave fifth to stablemate Verry Elleegant in the Caulfield Cup (2,400m) a fortnight ago.

The former French-trainer galloper is one of a two-pronged attack on the big race for a red-hot Chris Waller stable searching for its first Melbourne Cup.

So too is jockey James McDonald, who lost the ride on Verry Elleegant earlier this spring due to COVID travel restrictions, but Finche is a more than capable replacement.

$10: 12. Prince Of Arran

8yo gelding (Great Britain) | Barrier 1 | 54.5kg | J: Jamie Kah | T: Charlie Fellowes

Prince Of Arran is now a three-time visitor to Australia, where he has developed a following among racing fans because of his consistency and determination.

The connections of this globetrotting galloper are hoping that he can go even better than his third in 2018 and second (when elevated on protest) a year ago.

He showed he'll be a leading contender again by posting best-of-race closing figures to finish fourth in the Caulfield Cup (2,400m) behind Verry Elleegant and Anthony Van Dyck.

It will be a first Melbourne Cup ride for the in-form Jamie Kah, who landed a winner on Derby Day to follow the four she rode on Cox Plate day.

$9: 13. Surprise Baby

6yo gelding (New Zealand) | Barrier 7 | 54.5kg | J: Craig Williams | T: Paul Preusker

Surprise Baby announced himself as a staying talent by running away with last year's Adelaide Cup at only his sixth start.

Fast-forward eight months and he was arguably the best run of the race in last year's Melbourne Cup, storming home for fifth after giving away too much start to the leaders.

A mission of redemption has been the sole focus of trainer Paul Preusker, who has given Surprise Baby a near-identical preparation heading into Tuesday.

The horse will be partnered by last year's winning jockey, Craig Williams, who has taken to posting Surprise Baby's impressive track gallops on social media.

$51: 14. King Of Leogrance

6yo gelding (France) | Barrier 18 | 53.5kg | J: Damian Lane | T: Danny O'Brien

Six-time Cup-winning owner Lloyd Williams brought this lightly raced galloper from Europe last year and placed him in the care of Danny O'Brien.

The Flemington-based trainer, who won the Cup last year with Vow And Declare, has maintained a European-style training regime, needing little racing to bring him to peak fitness.

King Of Leogrance was a dominant winner of the Adelaide Cup in March, before going down to Oceanex in the win-and-you're-in (the Cup) Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2,800m) in May.

His condition appeared to give out in the closing stages when third to Steel Prince in the Geelong Cup (2,400m) a fortnight ago so expect him to be primed now for his grand final.

$13: 15. Russian Camelot

4yo stallion (Ireland) | Barrier 16 | 53.5kg | J: Damien Oliver | T: Danny O'Brien

Russian Camelot has been a leading fancy for the Cup for some time, although the shine has come off his reputation to a minor degree following defeats in the Caulfield Stakes (2,000m) and Cox Plate (2,040m).

The boom has been big on this Northern Hemisphere-bred four-year-old since his eye-catching win in the South Australia Derby (2,500m) in May.

His fans are hoping that a step up to 3,200 metres on Tuesday and riding him "cold" will deliver a return to the winner's stall.

Russian Camelot is considered the leading hope for trainer Danny O'Brien, who also saddles last year's winner Vow And Declare and 2019 Victoria Oaks winner Miami Bound.

$51: 16. Steel Prince

7yo gelding (Ireland) | Barrier 21 | 53.5kg | J: William Pike | T: Anthony & Sam Freedman

Steel Prince is having a second crack at the Cup after finishing ninth last year, beaten only two lengths by Vow And Declare.

After a good break away from the track, Anthony and Sam Freeman have this former European going well and was brave when third behind Persan in the Bart Cummings Quality (2,500m).

He made amends a fortnight ago with victory in the Geelong Cup (2,400m), earning him a one-kilogram penalty that was enough to propel him into the 24-horse field.

His trainers are masters at peaking his horses for their target race and they'll be hoping the "wizard of the west", William Pike, can have some luck in his first Cup ride.

$51: 17. The Chosen One

5yo stallion (New Zealand) | Barrier 5 | 53.5kg | J: Daniel Stackhouse | T: Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman

The Chosen One has had mixed results in his two starts at 3,200 metres — 17th in the Melbourne Cup last year and second in the Sydney Cup behind Etah James in April.

He goes into Tuesday's race after running boldly at a big price to claim third in the Caulfield Cup (2,400m) behind Verry Elleegant and Anthony Van Dyck.

Expect The Chosen One to be thereabouts again on Tuesday, although he may just be one or two lengths shy of some of these over the 3,200 metres.

But he does come from a stable with an enviable record in staying races, with few better training operations in New Zealand than the team of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.

$17: 18. Ashrun

5yo stallion (France) | Barrier 24 | 53kg | J: Declan Bates | T: Andreas Wohler

German trainer Andreas Wohler knows how to win a Melbourne Cup — the Australian Bloodstock-owned Protectionist smashed his rivals in 2014.

Six years later and owner and trainer combine again with Ashrun, who finished fourth at his Australian debut in the Geelong Cup (2,400m) a fortnight ago.

Wohler watched that race from hotel quarantine in Sydney and then drove to Melbourne to oversee Ashrun's last-ditch bid to get into the Cup via the Hotham Stakes (2,500m) on Derby Day.

His efforts were rewarded with a narrow victory, and while Hotham winners often perform well on the three-day turnaround, it's something European horses aren't generally accustomed to.

$34: 19. Warning

4yo gelding (Australia) | Barrier 8 | 53kg | J: Luke Currie | T: Anthony & Sam Freedman

Warning and his connections will be happy to be back at Flemington, the scene of his two career victories that included the Victoria Derby a year ago.

He appeared to be shaping up well for the Cups with solid performances over unsuitable distances early in the spring, but he looked disappointing when 12th in the Caulfield Cup (2,400m) behind Verry Elleegant.

Despite a recent foot issue, it may pay to forgive Warning that last-start failure because of his record at this track and the fact the Freedman name is known for preparing Cup winners going back to the 1990s.

History says, however, that only one horse since Phar Lap (1930) has won the Victoria Derby and returned the following year to win the Cup — it was Efficient in 2007.

$151: 20. Etah James

8yo mare (New Zealand) | Barrier 22 | 52.5kg | J: Billy Egan | T: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Etah James may start as one of the outsiders on Tuesday, but at least she boasts a win over the Cup distance of 3,200 metres.

That came back in the autumn when she defeated Cup rivals The Chosen One and Mustajeer in the Sydney Cup.

Her trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace don't mind spacing the runs of their horses and Etah James goes into the big race following two starts in six months.

The most recent of those was a fourth behind Miami Bound and Oceanex in the Moonee Valley Cup (2,500m) a week ago.

$8: 21. Tiger Moth

4yo stallion (Ireland) | Barrier 23 | 52.5kg | J: Kerrin McEvoy | T: Aidan O'Brien

A veteran of only four race-day appearances, few horses in modern history have gone into the Cup with as few starts and such high expectations.

The young stallion made the jump from maiden class to finishing a narrow second in the Irish Derby (2,400m) to one-time Cup fancy Santiago in June.

His next-start demolition of a group-class field in Dublin caught the attention of punters who recognised the recent success of young European horses, namely Rekindling (2017) and Cross Counter (2018).

This will no doubt be Tiger Moth's toughest test, but he'll have the services of jockey Kerrin McEvoy who has three Cups, while training legend Aidan O'Brien is still searching for his first.

$67: 22. Oceanex

5yo mare (New Zealand) | Barrier 17 | 51.5kg | J: Dean Yendall | T: Mick Price & Michael Kent Jr

Oceanex's results earlier this campaign don't look that impressive, but that's because she's been primed with to peak for her grand final.

A golden ticket into the Cup courtesy of winning the Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2,800m) in May meant she hasn't had to reach her top sooner in order to race her way into the 24-horse field like some of her rivals.

With maturity, Oceanex has found her groove over staying distances and showed positive signs a week ago when third in the Moonee Valley Cup (2,500m) behind Miami Bound.

A heel issue this past week meant she had to clear a late vet check but her stable says that won't be an excuse on Tuesday.

$34: 23. Miami Bound

4yo mare (New Zealand) | Barrier 13 | 51kg | J: Daniel Moor | T: Danny O'Brien

One of three runners for trainer Danny O'Brien, Miami Bound rose to prominence this time a year ago as the winner of the Victoria Oaks — a race as old as the Cup itself.

The four-year-old was a dominant winner of the Moonee Valley Cup (2,500m) just over a week ago in a return to form that confirmed her shot at Tuesday's big race.

While that win came as somewhat of a surprise to punters, O'Brien believes Miami Bound will be suited by the 3,200-metre distance and a return to her home track of Flemington.

History says 30 mares have contested the Cup since 2005 and none have finished in the top three. The last Victoria Oaks winner to win the Cup the following year was Light Fingers in 1964.

$51: 24. Persan

4yo stallion (Australia) | Barrier 20 | 51kg | J: Michael Dee | T: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Persan will arrive at the barriers on Tuesday for what will be the 11th start of a campaign that began in April.

After switching stables from Sydney to Ballarat, the four-year-old raced with success in some of Melbourne's lower-grade staying contests over winter.

He scored five wins from nine starts before emerging as the right horse at the right time to claim the Bart Cummings Quality (2,500m) in early October and secure a spot in the Cup.

While Persan faces a challenge jumping to the elite level, some of the form around him has been franked — Steel Prince (third in the Bart Cummings) won the Geelong Cup (2,400m) at his next start.


Prices correct at 8:00pm AEDT Saturday


  • Reporting: Daniel Franklin
  • Illustrations: Tim Madden
  • Development: Colin Gourlay and Andrew Kesper

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The Melbourne Cup failed to deliver blockbuster ratings for Channel 10 on Tuesday. According to The Daily Telegraph, the network's coverage of the event drew in 1.86 million viewers - a three per cent drop from last year.However, there was a 47 per cent increase of livestream viewers on digital platform 10 play. © Provided by Daily Mail Results: Channel 10's Melbourne Cup coverage suffered abysmal ratings on Tuesday after the network paid $100million to secure the broadcast rights.

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