Melbourne Cup: Fast form to find a winner


The foreign horses may lead the betting in the 2019 Melbourne Cup, but I'm tipping a 'local' hope to be first past the post at this afternoon..

Check out my review of the full field and trifecta tip below.


1. CROSS COUNTER (57.5kg)

The 2018 Melbourne Cup winner, Cross Counter is back to defend his crown.

Trainer: Charlie Appleby

Jockey: Will Buick


Likes: Will relish the trip with two wins and a place from his three starts over 3200m.

Dislikes: Has not won since March this year and has to carry 6.5kg more than he did to win last year - the last horse to carry 57kg+ and win was the great Makybe Diva.

VERDICT: Winning the Cup back-to-back is a rare achievement and it's hard to see it happening here. I would not back him to win but could run a place.




2. MER DE GLACE (56kg)

Japanese star who has won all six races he has contested as a four-year-old including the 2019 Caulfield Cup.

Trainer: Hisashi Shimizu

Jockey: Damian Lane


Likes: Achieved a career-best rating with his Caulfield win where he unleashed a powerful run to hit the lead inside the final furlong to win easily.

Dislikes: History. The Caulfield Cup/Melbourne Cup double has not been achieved since 2001 and 12 subsequent Caulfield Cup winners have failed to run a place in the Melbourne Cup. Yet to be tested beyond 2400m.

VERDICT: The distance is a big concern as is the 1kg penalty he received for the Caulfield win. A favoured runner I do not see winning and may even leave out of trifectas - you can't have them all!



Lloyd Williams knows a thing or two about finding Melbourne Cup winners and the savvy owner has rated Master Of Reality as his best chance in the race this year. Has one of the world's most successful jockeys in Frankie Dettori on board which should be a win - but Frankie sure knows how to bomb a Melbourne Cup ride.

Trainer: Joseph O'Brien

Jockey: Frankie Dettori

Barrier: 1

Likes: Weight. Lloyd appears to have beaten the handicapper again. Master Of Reality rated equal to Cross Counter in the Gold Cup and Irish St Leger but has been allocated 2.5kg less. The distance is not an issue despite having never raced at 3200 the horse's best rating is over 4000m.

Dislikes: Frankie Dettori. Dettori will retire as one of the greatest jockeys of all time, but he's had 16 rides in the Cup for just two seconds - and one of those was in 2015 when he destroyed the race upon Max Dynamite.

VERDICT: Has to be in your multiples and Dettori will probably win a Cup one day. Another I like at solid odds.


4. MIRAGE DANCER (55.5kg)

Formerly trained by Sir Michael Stoute in the UK, Mirage Dancer showed he had settled in well after his trip from England when he finished a fine third in the Caulfield Cup at his first run in Australia.

Trainer: Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young

Jockey: Ben Melham

Barrier: 13

Likes: Ultra-consistent with eight places and a win from ten Group starts and three wins and six places from his 10 starts at 2400m. Did not miss a place in his four races prior to coming to Australia.

Dislikes: Has yet to run beyond 2400m. Can be flighty having required earplugs at his last four starts and the big Flemington crowd can upset the most even tempered horse.

VERDICT: I'm struggling to run the line through such a consistent performer and despite distance concerns will keep him safe in multiples.




Formerly trained by Charlie Appleby, Southern France was bought by Australian interests for the Cup

Trainer: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Jockey: Mark Zahra

Barrier: 14

Likes: Beat Master Of Reality by four lengths in the G3 Irish St Leger Trial (2800m) in August and held off fellow Cup rivals Cross Counter and Latrobe when third in the in G1 Irish St Leger (2800m).

Dislikes: Has won just once from his past 11 starts - though all but one of those were at Group level and he did manage five places.

VERDICT: Meets Cross Counter 2kg better than at the Irish St Leger and while not sure he's quite a winning chance, is certainly one I'd keep safe for a place.



6. HUNTING HORN (55kg)

Yet another UK horse, the well-travelled Hunting Horn has run and won in three different countries and finished top three in two others.

Trainer: Aidan O'Brien

Jockey: Seamie Heffernan

Barrier: 11

Likes: Unlike many of the foreign horses he has local form being a last start winner in the G2 Moonee Valley Gold Gup (2500m) on 26 October

Dislikes: The Gold Cup win was pretty soft and he was suited at the weights - a favour he does not get here with 55kg. Distance a query as is class with just one place from nine attempts at G1 level.

VERDICT: Not hopeless but one I'm prepared to risk.


7. LATROBE (55kg)

Trainer: Joseph O'Brien

Jockey: James McDonald

Barrier: 22

Another from the Williams team, Latrobe first came to Australia in 2018 and despite qualifying for the Cup field was aimed at the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) - in which he finished 0.2 lengths off the winner in second place.

Likes: Has shown he can handle the trip to Australia and pushed his stablemate Twilight Payment all the way in the Group 2 Curragh Cup (2800m) in June this year.

Dislikes: Yet to be tested beyond 2800m and his form leading into 2018 reads better than his form leading into this year's race.

VERDICT: Prefer others.



8. MUSTAJEER (55kg)

Trainer: Kris Lees

Jockey: Damien Oliver

Barrier: 6

Was locked in for the Melbourne Cup after winning the Ebor Handicap (2800m) in the UK back in August, and has since transferred to Australian trainer Kris Lees.

Likes: Carried 59.5kg to win the Ebor which has proved to be a good form race leading into the Cup, closed well to finish sixth in the Caulfield Cup in his first run in Australia and has the services of star jockey Damien Oliver. Also has good form second up (as he will be in the Cup) with a win and three places from five starts.

Dislikes: From 10 starts at Listed/Group level he has won just once, though placed five times.

VERDICT: Fair chance at decent odds.



Ran fifth in the 2018 Melbourne Cup (when trained by Aidan O'Brien) and is now part of the Hayes stable in Australia.

Trainer: D & B Hayes & T Dabernig

Jockey: Dwayne Dunn

Barrier: 12

Likes: Really struggling to find any for this runner other than perhaps last year's effort showed he can stay the two miles.

Dislikes: Failed to fire a shot in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) finishing ninth of 11 and showed even less in the Caulfield Cup when 16th of 18.

VERDICT: Form leading up to this Cup not as strong as in 2018 and hard to have considering he must carry 4kg more this year.



Twilight Payment was purchased by Team Williams after he refused to concede to Latrobe in a ding-dong battle down the straight to win the Group 2 Curragh Cup (2800m) in June 2019.

Trainer: Joseph O'Brien

Jockey: Hugh Bowman

Barrier: 19

Likes: The Curragh Cup has proven a good formguide for the Melbourne Cup with Vintage Crop (1993) and Rekindling (2017) both doing the double and Red Cadeaux just missing out by a nose from doing the same in 2011. Has form over the two miles too with a win and two places over the distance.

Dislikes: Yet to win or place at Group 1 level from three starts and reasonably well found at the weights.

VERDICT: Not sure he can win it, but tough enough to run a place at big odds.




11. FINCHE (54kg)

Former import who finished fourth in last year's Cup after having just one run in Australia, Finche has had a full preparation in Australia leading up to this year's Cup and looks well placed.

Trainer: Chris Waller

Jockey:Kerrin McEvoy

Barrier: 4

Likes: Will benefit from a full Aussie preparation and was motoring home when a long nose second in the Turnbull. Far from disgraced in the Caulfield Cup when he sat three wide the trip and finished 1.6 lengths off the winner in fifth. Gets a 1kg pull in the weights on Mer De Glace from the Caulfield Cup, has the services of champion jockey Kerrin McEvoy and drew a barrier which is sure to make his trainer happy.

Dislikes: A grinder, he needs a long clear run to hit top speed and if things don't go his way in the straight he may lack the acceleration to overcome adversity.

VERDICT: Should enjoy the big Flemington straight and with a perfect barrier he is my top pick.




12. PRINCE OF ARRAN (54kg)

Trainer: Charlie Fellowes

Jockey: Michael Walker

Barrier: 8

Globetrotting foreign raider who finished third in last year's Melbourne Cup. Went into the 2018 Cup off the back of a third place in the Group 2 Herbert Power (2400m) and a win in the Lexus and comes into this year's race after a fighting second in the Herbert Power and then a win the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m)

Likes: A true stayer with nine starts over the 3200m for one win and four places. Rating very similarly this preparation to last year where he ran third in the Cup carrying just one kilogram less than he does here.

Dislikes: His best win is at Group 3 class and from 11 starts in Group 1/Group 2 has recorded just the four places. Does not like to be midfield or worse, from 10 starts at 2000m plus where he was not able to roll forward he has just two places - compared to four wins and five places from the 12 starts over 2000m+ where he was able to settle better than midfield. Does not like it too wet - will be doing an anti-rain prance.

VERDICT: Drew the barrier he needs to be able to take up a position that suits, just needs the rain to stay away now to be a knockout hope at odds.



13. RAYMOND TUSK (54kg)

English horse who poses a bit of a challenge to Australian punters as will not race here ahead of the Cup.

Trainer: Richard Hannon Jr

Jockey: Jamie Spencer

Barrier: 3

Likes: Stamped his staying credentials when second in the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes (3209m) in May this year and then had to weave through the field never seeing daylight when running fourth in the Ebor in his last race before coming to Australia.

Dislikes: Tested three times at G1 level and never finished closer than 8.5 lengths off the winner at this class.

VERDICT: I really rate that Ebor run, and even absent a run in local conditions I rate this horse one of the better roughies.


14. DOWNDRAFT (53.5kg)

UK horse who had snuck into the field as the 24th horse in the order of entry and then guaranteed himself a place when he won the G3 Hotham (2500m) on Derby Day.

Trainer: Joseph O'Brien

Jockey: John Allen

Barrier: 15

Likes: Had everything go his way in the Hotham but it was still an impressive win. Has never been out to two miles but has a win and place from two starts over 2800m. Good strike rate too with seven wins from 18 starts.

Dislikes: Third-up form is not great and has not won above Group 3 level.

VERDICT: I'm a little wary of getting too entranced by the Hotham win as the race really did run his way but he's far from the worst.


15. MAGIC WAND (53.5kg)

Another globetrotting foreign raider, Magic Wand is a Ballydoyle mare had already raced in the UK, Ireland, USA and UAE before coming to Australia and finishing a creditable fourth in the G1 Cox Plate (2040m) at her first start.

Trainer: Aidan O'Brien

Jockey: Ryan Moore

Barrier: 24

Likes: Was impressive winning the G2 Ribblesdale Stakes (2400m) as a three-year-old and has placed four times at Group 1 level.

Dislikes: Profiles as very much more a mile and a quarter horse than one who will enjoy the testing two mile Cup journey. Rarely wins (two from 19 starts).

VERDICT: Think the distance will find her out. Pass.


16. NEUFBOSC (53.5kg)

Formerly based in France, it would amaze me if Neufbosc finishes anywhere but out the back of the race.

Trainer: David & Ben Hayes & Tom Dabernig

Jockey: Luke Nolen

Barrier: 23

Likes: Defeated classy stayer Dee Ex Bee and was just a length of star Kew Gardens when second in the G1 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (2400m) in July last year.

Dislikes: Since being transferred to Australia has had five starts with his best result being eighth of 11 in a Group 2.

VERDICT: If you drew him in the sweep you're a good chance to get your money back - provided the sweep pays for running last.


17. SOUND (53.5kg)

Former German horse now trained by Mike Moroney, Sound's German form marks him as a Cups contender - his form since coming to Australia, though, suggests 'pretender' may be a more accurate assessment.

Trainer: Michael Moroney

Jockey: James Winks


Likes: He can stay, with a Group 2 win over two miles (and been unplaced twice) and two wins in Listed class over 2800m. Carrying 2kg less than last year (a positive but also an assessment of his current form).

Dislikes: Was considered some sort of rough chance in the 2018 Melbourne Cup but dropped out to finish 18th, since then he has had six starts in Australia for zero places.



18. SURPRISE BABY (53.5kg)

Lightly raced Australian horse, this bush trained son of 2009 Cup winner Shocking, qualified for the Cup with victory in the G3 Bart Cummings (2500m).

Trainer: Paul Preusker

Jockey: Jordan Childs

Barrier: 20

Likes: Showed he can handle the distance when he won the G2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) at just his sixth start and charged home to win the Bart Cummings in fine style.

Dislikes: Has never been tested at Group 1 level BARRIER

VERDICT: Just not sure he has enough class to win here but I'll be keeping Surprise Baby safe and including him in my trifectas.




Formerly trained by Irish master Aidan O'Brien, the colt was very impressive in his first run in Australia when finishing just 1.4 lengths off the winner in the G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).

Trainer: David & Ben Hayes & Tom Dabernig

Jockey: Joao Moreira

Barrier: 7

Likes: Ran second in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur (2400m) to the top class stayer Logician and is a G3 winner over 2000m. Assigned just 52.5kg in the Cup. Flew home in the Caulfield Cup after copping a check at the 600m mark and then running into a wall at the 300m mark.

Dislikes: Has never run beyond 2400m and never won beyond 2000m - I'm worried he could look the winner 600 out then face away down the straight.

VERDICT: I couldn't take him to win at under double figure odds but would have him for a place in wider trifectas.



20. IL PARADISO (52.5kg)

A lightly raced colt, Il Paradiso is a US born horse trained by UK super trainer Aidan O'Brien.

Trainer: Aidan O'Brien

Jockey: Wayne Lordan

Barrier: 17

Likes: Has a win over 3200m and also ran third over the distance in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup where he was beaten just 1.3 lengths by star European stayer Stradivarius - though beware there were just four horses in the field and the other two bled.

Dislikes: His last start fifth (of eight runners) in the Group 1 English St Leger (2900m) was underwhelming and his ratings suggest he cannot compete with the best here.

VERDICT: You can't have them all and this is one I'll pass on.



21. STEEL PRINCE (52.5kg)

An 'Aussie' hope (the horse was born in Ireland and came to Australia as a three-year-old) secured his place in the race with victory in the Andrew Ramsden Stakes (2800m) in May.

Trainer: Anthony Freedman

Jockey: Brett Prebble

Barrier: 16

Likes: His finish in the Ramsden was strong and gets in with just 52.5kg on his back.

Dislikes: Had an interrupted preparation when scratched from the Herbert Power after lashing out in the barriers and subsequently found to be lame in one leg. Has never competed above Group 3 level and has never won a Group race.

VERDICT: Ratings suggest he lacks the class required to challenge these and the Herbert Power mishap must have interfered with his preparation somewhat. Pass.


22. THE CHOSEN ONE (52kg)

Featherweight Kiwi hope who steamed home to win the G2 Herbert Power (2400m) and followed that run up with midfield efforts in the Caulfield Cup and Hotham.

Trainer: Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman

Jockey: Tim Clark

Barrier: 18

Likes: The Herbert Power win was gritty but outside of that I'm struggling to find positives.

Dislikes: Concedes a fair pull in the weights (1.5kg) to Prince of Arran from the Herbert Power and is unplaced at five Group 1 attempts and has just one win from four starts over 2400m.

VERDICT: Lacks the class and staying credentials to compete with the best here though does get in very light, still a pass from me.



23. VOW AND DECLARE (52kg)

A rare beast in the Cup, Vow And Declare is an Australian bred stayer. Ran second in the Queensland Derby as a three-year-old, charged home to finish fourth in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) to start this preparation and then lost no admirers when second in the Caulfield Cup.

Trainer: Danny O'Brien

Jockey:Craig Williams

Barrier: 21

Likes: Has the turn of foot to sit and sprint and has won out to 3000m (G3 Tattersall's Cup). Closed well in the Caulfield Cup and gets into the race with just 52kg which is 1kg lighter than he met Mer De Glace in the Caulfield.

Dislikes: The barrier draw hurts as his best results have been when able to settle midfield or better and he'll need to do some work early from wide to get there with cover in this race.

VERDICT: Was my top chance before the barrier draw, still like him but have slotted him down behind Finche now.



24. YOUNGSTAR (52kg)

A lightweight local hope, Youngstar finished sixth in the 2018 Melbourne Cup.

Trainer: Chris Waller

Jockey: Tommy Berry

Barrier: 9

Likes: Caries just 0.5kg more than she did in last year's Cup

Dislikes: Has not won a race since May 2018 and before his last start third in the St Leger Stakes was unplaced in nine consecutive races.

VERDICT: Form last year was superior and cannot see her finishing in the top half of the field this year.




1. Finche

2. Vow And Declare

3. Prince Of Arran (provided we do not see too much more rain) 3.

Roughies to add to trifectas: Southern France, Master Of Reality, Il Paradiso, Mirage Dancer, Twilight Reality, Raymond Tusk, Mustajeer and Surprise Baby.


My suggested bet is to take the top two to win in a box trifecta or first four and then add those roughies you like the looks of to fill the places.