The Melbourne Cup, otherwise known as the race that stops a nation, takes place for the 153rd time at Flemington and three runners stand out among the 24 Australian and international contenders in the staying handicap.
Not long ago the Caulfield Cup runner-up would have been the Melbourne Cup favourite and the main tip of every part-time punter. The Caulfield Cup has been an excellent guide to the Melbourne Cup over many, many years and the runner-up gets into the latter without a penalty, unlike the winner.
Dandino came from the clouds to get within one and a quarter lengths of Fawkner in the Caulfield Cup, an impressive run when one considers that he raced from barrier 16 – only two competitors were drawn wider – and recorded the fastest sectionals in both the last 200 metres and 2,000m.
The Melbourne Cup was not Dandino’s primary target when he arrived in Australia but his Caulfield Cup was a cracker and his trainer, Marco Botti, says that the seven-year-old son of Dansili has improved since his second-place finish.
Dandino is trading at odds of 11.00 with 888sport and he is worth a bet. Dandino maps well in the Melbourne Cup and one should not read too much into his previous flops over more than 3,000m. Dandino likes good, firm ground and his other runs over really long trips have been on soft, wet ground. The Flemington track should be in the Australian dead range, which is the equivalent of good in the United Kingdom.
Fawkner has been penalised one and a half kilograms for his Caulfield Cup victory but he remains a serious Melbourne Cup threat at odds of 21.00 with Betfred. It is as if most punters have forgotten how strong Fawkner two and a bit weeks ago.
There are pedigree analysts who doubt that Fawkner will see out the Melbourne Cup trip but many of them were saying very similar things in the lead up to the Caulfield Cup. Fawkner raced like a stayer in that race and it would appear that he is not the miler that everyone thought that he was. It is a bonus that he seems to be a stayer with a turn of foot.
Fiorente was an unlucky second behind Green Moon in last year’s Melbourne Cup and his preparation for this year’s edition has been terrific, including eye-catching running-on efforts in the Turnbull Stakes over 2,000m and the Cox Plate over 2,040m. The Melbourne Cup has been Fiorente’s chief target for 12 months and, for once, the six-year-old import from Europe who has been a member of Gai Waterhouse’s team since this time last year, has drawn a favourable barrier.
Bookmakers have priced up Fiorente as the Melbourne Cup favourite, with 888sport offering odds of 8.50 that the First Lady of Australian racing wins the big race for the first time in her illustrious trainer career.
Mount Athos and Voleuse De Coeurs would have made the short list but their Melbourne Cup chances were hurt when the barrier draw took place. Mount Athos drew barrier 22 and Voleuse De Coeurs drew barrier 21. It is very difficult to win any Australian horse race from such a starting spot.
Dandino is the pick of the European raiders – he has had a run in Australia leading up to the Melbourne Cup, which is a vital if one follows trends – while Fawkner and Fiorente fit the profile of Melbourne Cup winners from Australia.
One back dutch Dandino, Fawkner and Fiorente and get odds of just under 4.00 that one of the three runners crosses the Flemington finishing line first to land the big prize.