1. Dunaden (FR)
This French stayer came to Australia last year and won the Group 3 Geelong Cup over 2400m then the 2011 Melbourne Cup. He went back to Europe and has been racing at Group 1 and Group 2 level. He had his 3rd Australian start in the 2012 Group 1 Caulfield Cup and flew home to win in a very strong performance after drawing the outside barrier. He will carry 4.5kg more than he did last year but is still one of the major chances.
2. Americain (USA)
The 2010 Melbourne Cup winner will carry the same weight he did last year when he ran 4th, so meets Dunaden much better at the weights. He has had 2 starts this campaign for a 6th in a Group 2 race in France and then a solid 4th in the Caulfield Cup where he sat wide and lost his front shoes. Damien Oliver will be riding, and as a proven 2 miler he will be one of the major contenders again.
3. Jakkalberry (IRE)
This well-travelled stallion has raced in six different countries. Two starts ago he won a St Leger in the US over 2716m – this was only the second time he had raced over more than 2400m. Last start he was 13th in the Caulfield Cup running wide most of the way. He is used to much smaller fields than this and has been beaten by Dunaden on the 3 occasions they have raced together. Doesn’t appeal to me.
4. Red Cadeaux (GB)
This seven-year-old has won over distances of 2400 to 2800m and was 2nd in last years Melbourne Cup by the narrowest of margins. He also ran 2nd at his only other start over this distance. His lead-up form is better than last year but he will carry 2kg more. That means he meets Dunaden better at the weights. Has not raced for 4 months but has proven he can perform at this level without a lead-up run. A lovely horse who must be included in the genuine chances.
5. Winchester (USA)
This eight-year-old has won 6 of his 29 starts, but has yet to win beyond 2414m. He has had 4 starts in Australia, all at Group 1 level, for 9th in each of the Underwood Stakes, Turnbull Stakes and Caulfield Cup, and 6th in the Mackinnon Stakes on Saturday. He gets well back and has a strong grinding finish, suggesting he will stay the distance, but others look better.
6. Voila Ici (IRE)
One of 2 grey horses in the race, this horse has won 13 of his 32 races, and has had 4 Australian starts. His best Australian performance was 2nd in the Underwood Stakes behind Ocean Park, and he finished last in the Caulfield Cup. He has only raced once beyond 2400m and that was a win in a 2800m race in France over three years ago. My money won’t be on him.
7. Cavalryman (GB)
This well-travelled stallion from the Godolphin stable is one of only 5 horses in the field to have won over 3200m (the others are Dunaden, Americain, Galileo’s Choice and Niwot). He has international jockey Frankie Dettori in the saddle and is carrying the lowest weight of his career. Will have no trouble with the distance but may not like the large field. Can’t be dismissed.
8. Mount Athos (IRE)
One of 2 runners for Luca Cumani, who has trained 2nd in the Melbourne Cup twice with Bauer and Purple Moon, this horse has great form coming into the race. He has not raced in Australia but has won his last 3 races, all at distances around 2800m. He has been carrying huge weights and is capable of sustaining a long, strong finish at the end of his races. Must go in the trifectas.
9. Sanagas (GER)
This German-bred stayer is one of 2 runners for Bart Cummings. His 7 wins have all been over distances of 2200m to 2615m. His best Australian run was 4.8 lengths 10th in the Caulfield Cup and he looks as if he gets better with more distance. Could be an improver.
With a race career of only 7 starts, this is the least experienced horse in the field and one of the youngest at four-years-old (the other 4YO is Zabeelionaire). He has only had one win and that was the Australian Derby over 2400m where he came from the tail of the field. He has improved at each of his 3 starts this campaign and finished 4th in the Cox Plate. He looks like one of the best of the Australian horses, but it should be noted that the last horse to win the Australian Derby and Melbourne Cup in the same year was Hall Mark in 1933.
11. Fiorente (IRE)
This five-year-old has had 9 races in Europe under trainer Sir M Stoute, and is having his first race start here for the Gai Waterhouse stable. He won a 2414m race at Newmarket in July, beating Red Cadeaux, then finished 4th of 5 in the 2400m Prix Foy in France on 16 September. Like most of the European horses he is used to small fields and big weights. Place chance.
12. Galileo’s Choice (IRE)
This lightly raced seven-year-old has the best strike-rate in the race with 8 wins and 5 places from 16 starts. He is trained by Dermot Weld, who has won this race twice before, and like Welds first winner Vintage Crop, some of his runs have been over hurdles. He has won his last 2 races, both at Leopardstown in Ireland, and both times with 61kg. He has won races from 2000m to 3420m and is a dour stayer with a genuine hope.
13. Glencadam Gold (IRE)
Imported stayer who has had 5 Australian starts for Gai Waterhouse. Won the first four in a row, including a 3.8 length win in The Metropolitan, before knocking up to finish 15th when favourite in the Caulfield Cup. He is a query at the distance, and may have had enough racing this campaign.
14. Green Moon (IRE)
One of the two Lloyd Williams entries, this horse won the Turnbull on 6 October then started favourite in the Cox Plate to finish a disappointing 7th. He came 2nd in the 2011 Caulfield Cup and this will be his first start over 2400m or more since then. Definite query over the distance.
15. Maluckyday (NZ)
This son of Zabeel hasn’t won a race since the 2010 Lexus Stakes. Three days later he ran 2nd in the Melbourne Cup behind Americain. Two starts ago he carried 59kg to finish 2nd in the Bart Cummings over 2500m, then carried topweight of 58.5kg to finish 5th in the Geelong Cup. He can behave badly in the barriers and lose ground at the start, but is proven at the distance and has drawn reasonably in barrier 9. Worth an each-way bet.
16. Mourayan (IRE)
Another Lloyd Williams entry from the Robert Hickmott stable, this seven-year-old made it into the Melbourne Cup field last year then was a late scratching due to a foot problem. He has had 3 runs this campaign, improving with each one and won the Craven Plate over 2000m on 6 October. Has won up to 2500m and drops 5.5kg from recent runs. Nicely drawn in barrier 3 and with jockey Hugh Bowman he is one of the better local hopes and deserves respect.
17. My Quest For Peace (IRE)
This Luca Cumani runner won 2 races at Goodwood over 2414m and 2816m with big weights in small fields. He had his first Australian start in the Caulfield Cup where he ran 5th, only 1.6 lengths behind Dunaden. Should be suited by the bigger Flemington track, but the trainer has made it clear he needs a dry track.
Michael., Wayne and John Hawkes train this horse who has 2 wins over 3200m, including the 2012 Sydney Cup. He ran 8th in the 2011 Melbourne Cup, less than 4 lengths from the winner. He was disappointing in the Caulfield Cup last start, but improves with distance and is capable of shaking up the international raiders.
19. Tac De Boistron (FR)
This grey gelding is a French import with 5 wins up to 3100m. He won a Group 2 race over 2800m in France, beating subsequent Herbert Power Stakes winner Shahwardi, then had one start in Australia for 6th in the Geelong Cup. Has drawn wide in barrier 21and is used to small fields.
20. Lights Of Heaven (NZ)
The only mare in the race is from the in-form Peter Moody stable. She is unproven at the distance but has won a Brisbane Cup and came 3rd in this years Caulfield Cup, managing to stay ahead of Americain. She looks to be peaking at the right time, and should finish in the first half of the field.
21. 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, and finished 11th in the 2011 Melbourne Cup. He has had 4 runs over the distance without finishing in the first three and is drawn wide in barrier 20, so a win would be a big surprise.
22. Unusual Suspect (USA)
The oldest horse in the race at nine-years-old, he also has the most starts. He has raced in the USA and Dubai and is now trained at Cranbourne. He has been over 4 lengths behind the winner at all 4 starts this campaign, and has drawn wide in barrier 23. May be past his best and my money won’t be on him.
23. Zabeelionaire (NZ)
This four-year-old has drawn the outside barrier in the 24 horse field. He was checked early on before finishing 2.9 lengths 6th in the Caulfield Cup then turned in an eye-catching performance to sweep home for 2.1 lengths 5th in the MacKinnon Stakes behind Alcopop on Saturday. Is bred to stay and should be finishing hard with his light weight.
24. Kelinni (IRE)
This horse wouldn’t have got into the Cup field if it wasn’t for his win in the Lexus on Saturday, because prior to that he was 38th in the order of entry. He has yet to race over 3200m but looks capable of getting the distance, has a very light weight and has the services of Glen Boss. He has had 8 races this campaign for 4 wins, three 2nds and a 4th so has to be considered.