1. Americain (USA) Last years Melbourne Cup winner will carry the topweight of 58kg which is 3.5kg more than he carried last year. He has had one run in Australia since returning where he won the Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup over 2500m beating Tullamore and Illo. That was a strong win and he will be one of the major contenders again.
2. Jukebox Jury (IRE) Unraced in Australia, this striking grey stallion has won 9 of his 21 starts. He was a dead heat winner of the Group 1 Irish St Leger over 2816m at his latest start on 10 September. At the start before he won the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay at Deauville over 3000m on 21 August by 3 lengths, beating a quality field including Americain, Dunaden and Manighar. He won both those two starts by leading throughout and will be ridden by English jockey Neil Callan. Drawn in barrier 6 he will have no problems staying the distance.
3. Dunaden (FR) This French stayer had his last 3 starts in Group races over distances of 3000 to 3100m before coming to Australia. At his only start here he won the Group 3 Geelong Cup over 2400m, which is the race Americain won before going on to win the Cup last year. Looked impressive in his only Australian run and will make his presence felt. One of the main chances.
4. Drunken Sailor (IRE) This seven-year-old has won 11 of his 41 starts, but the only one over further than 2800m was a maiden hurdle over 3200m back in November 2008. His best distance appears to be 2400m and he came 7th in the Caulfield Cup on 15 October, 4.3 lengths behind Southern Speed. Not the worst.
5. Glass Harmonium (IRE) Flemington trained stallion who won the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes over 2000m on Saturday. Carried 59kg in that race and drops to 54kg here. He is a quality horse whose last 12 starts have all been at Group1 and Group 2 level. He likes to go to the front in his races and has drawn out wide in barrier 23. He can be a problem horse in the barriers and was loaded with a blindfold on in the Mackinnon. Will be ridden by Lisa Cropp, the only female jockey in the race. Has peaked at the right time.
6. Manighar (FR) This Luca Cumani trained horse ran 7th in the 2010 Melbourne Cup after running 5th in the 2010 Caulfield Cup. He was brought to Australia with a similar preparation this year, and went one better by running 4th in this years Caulfield Cup. He is lightly raced and can certainly run the distance as he came 4th in the 4000m Group 1 Gold Cup at Ascot, UK in June, but hasn’t actually won a race since October 2009. Place chance.
7. Unusual Suspect (USA) The oldest horse in the race at eight-years-old, he also has the most starts. He has done most of his racing in the USA, where his last win was the Group 1 Hollywood Turf Cup over 2400m last November. He is now trained at Cranbourne and has had 3 Australian starts with the latest a 6th in the Caulfield Cup where he over-raced in the early stages. My money won’t be on him.
8. Fox Hunt (IRE) Has had 5 wins and 4 places from 15 starts and is unraced in Australia. At his last start he won the Group 3 German St Leger over 2800m on 18 September. This five-year-old has had one run over 3200m where he came 4th in a field of 15 in the Group 2 Goodwood Cup. Will be ridden by regular jockey Silvestre De Sousa and drawn wide in barrier 19.
9. Lucas Cranach (GER) This lightly raced five-year-old has won 5 of his 10 races, with one win at 2100m and four wins at 2400m. He ran 5th in the Caulfield Cup and ran on well from well back in the field. He was being treated for a foot abscess leading into the race, and was reported as slightly lame after that race, so may have some improvement in him.
10. Mourayan (IRE) One of the two Lloyd Williams entries, this six-year-old is a genuine Cup hope. He won the Listed Bart Cummings over 2500m on 2 October by 2 lengths then ran 2nd in the Mackinnon on Saturday with a run that looked a great Cup lead-up. He pulled up mildly lame in the off foreleg but vets determined him well enough to accept for the Cup with 3 days to recover. Will drop from 59kg in the Mackinnon to 53.5kg and will be ridden by Victoria Derby winning jockey Hugh Bowman.
11. Precedence (NZ) This Zabeel gelding is one of two runners for Bart Cummings. He ran 8th in the 2010 Melbourne Cup, after coming from 17th at the 400m. His form this year is not as good as it was last year but he has a good trainer, jockey and barrier. Has a strong finish and will probably finish in the first half of the field.
12. Red Cadeaux (GB) This six-year-old has not raced in Australia but has won over distances of 2400 to 2800m. At his latest start he ran 3rd to dead-heaters Jukebox Jury and Duncan in the 2800m Irish St Leger and the start before ran 5th to Jukebox Jury over 3000m. Meets that horse 3.5kg better at the weights than he did at the last two outings.
13. Hawk Island (IRE) One of two Chris Waller horses, this seven-year-old has won 10 of his 40 starts. Six of his wins have been on heavy tracks and two on slow, so his chances will increase dramatically if we get significant rain. He ran 2nd in the Hill Stakes over 2000m on 17 September then ran 2nd in the Group 1 Metropolitan over 2400m on 1 October. Following those two good runs he ran a disappointing 13th in the Caulfield Cup and may have had trouble with the Melbourne way of going.
14. Illo (GER) Had his first 13 race starts in Europe where he had 5 wins over distances from 2000m to 2400m. At his most recent start he came 3rd behind Americain in the Moonee Valley Cup over 2500m and will meet that horse 3.5kg better at the weights. From the Cummings stable but a query over the distance.
15. Lost In The Moment (IRE) Part of the Godolphin stable this international raider will be having his first Australian start. He has won up to 2200m and has had one start over 3200m for a 2nd in the Group 2 Good Goodwood Cup in July. Very hard to line his form up but has won 4 of his 17 starts. Drawn nicely in barrier 3.
16. Modun (IRE) This five-year-old is the most lightly raced horse in the field, as he has only had 8 starts, but has won three of them and come 2nd three times. Like the other Godolphin runner he has not raced in Australia before. At his last start he had a good win in the Group 3 Good September Stakes over 2400m on 3 September. He has drawn well in barrier 5 and this will be the lightest weight he has ever carried in a race.
17. At First Sight (IRE) This is the second of Lloyd Williams runners and is one of the most interesting horse in the field because he has only ever won one race – a two-year-old maiden that was over two years ago. Despite that he has good claims. He ran 2nd to December Draw in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes over 2000m where he finished hard, then ran 2nd in the Listed Bendigo Cup over 2400m where he came from 10th at the 400m. Wouldn’t surprise to see him run home well.
18. Moyenne Corniche (GB) This horse is trained by Brian Ellison in the north of England. His latest races there have all been over distances of 2400m to 3200m. He was the surprise winner of the 2800m Ebor Handicap on 20 August at his last start before coming to Australia. At his only start in Australia he came 3rd in the Group 2 Herbert Power cover 2400m, coming from well back in the field. Looks a nice type for the Cup.
19. Saptapadi (IRE) Brian Ellison’s other runner is one of two horses in the race who have only won a maiden (the other is At First Sight). He has had two runs in Australia running 8th in the Herbert Power then 14th in the Caulfield Cup. Hard to see him making an impression in this field.
20. Shamrocker (NZ) She is the baby of the field as the only four-year-old, and is one of only two mares running this year. As a two-year-old she won the Group 2 Sires Produce and as three-year-old she was 2nd in the Crown Oaks, won the Australian Guineas and the AJC Derby and came 2nd in the AJC Oaks. Has been disappointing in her 4 starts this campaign and is not helped by drawing barrier 24.
21. The Verminator He won the Group1 Metropolitan over 2400m on 1 October after taking the lead at the 600m and managing to hold on. He ran 11th in the Mackinnon on Saturday and only appeared to be warming up at the end of the race.
22. Tullamore (NZ) This Gai Waterhouse trained gelding ran on strongly for 3rd in the Caulfield Cup and then ran 2nd to Americain in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup over 3500m. Meets that horse 5kg better at the weights and should run well.
23. Niwot One of only 3 horses in the race to have actually won over 3200m (the others are Americain and Drunken Sailor). He wouldn’t have got into the Cup field if it wasn’t for his strong win in the Lexus on Saturday. This was the same race that put Maluckday in the field last year, and he finished second in the Melbourne Cup. This horse wasn’t even on my radar a week ago but I now see him as a real chance, and would definitely put him in my top five picks.
24. Older Than Time One of only 2 mares in the race (the other is Shamrocker). Ran 3rd in the Tatts City Cup over 2400m on 15 October than got ran down in the Lexus on Saturday at her first Melbourne start. Won’t be in my trifectas.