Each year 24 horses square up in the Melbourne Cup which is now regarded as one of the most prestigious racing events in the world.
See below for the final field of 24 runners in the 2020 Melbourne Cup. There are 15 Australian-trained runners and one New Zealand trained horse while the remaining eight are international raiders. The horses range from 4 to 8 in age and four are mares. Eight runners have won previously over the 3200m distance or longer. Three trainers have the surname O’Brien and they have 8 runners between them – four from Danny O’Brien and two each for Irish trainers Aidan O’Brien and Joseph O’Brien. Ciaron Maher & David Eustace have three runners, while Chris Waller and Anthony Freedman have two runners each.
Three of the field are sired by Camelot (Sir Dragonet, King Of Leogrance & Russian Camelot), two by Frankel (Master Of Reality & Finche), two By Galileo (Anthony Van Dyck & Tiger Moth), two by Nathaniel (Dashing Willoughby & Steel Prince) and two by Declaration of War (Vow And Declare & Warning). There are five four-year-olds, eight five-year-olds, three six-year-olds , three seven-year-olds and five eight-year-olds.
Melbourne Cup Runner by Runner
1. Anthony Van Dyck (IRE)
This five-year-old Galileo horse is trained by Aidan O’Brien in Ireland and has raced in England. Ireland, Hong Kong and the United States. He won the 2019 Epsom Derby and won the Group 2 Prix Foy at Longchamp over 2400m on 13 September. He has only had one race in Australia where he battled out the Caulfield Cup and was a close runner-up to Verry Elleegant. He is untested at the distance but has gone well around 2400m. Looks to be one of the main hopes.
2. Avilius (GB)
James Cummings trains this seven-year-old gelding. His only attempt at 3200m was in the 2018 Melbourne Cup where he was eased down and finished 22nd. He hasn’t won for a while and was a little unlucky when 6th in the Caulfield Cup but most of his wins have been around the 2000m distance and I think this is too far for him.
3. Vow And Declare
Last years winner. He was the first Australian bred winner in a decade and I thought it was a wonderful win. Last year his lead-up races were 4th in the Turnbull Stakes then 2nd in the Caulfield Cup but this year he was 12th in the Turnbull then 15th in the Caulfield Cup. Last year he had 52kg to carry and this year has 57kg. On the basis of those numbers we are unlikely to see the same magic finish as last year but I hope he runs well.
4. Master Of Reality (IRE)
One of two runners for Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien, he is also one of two sons of Frankel in the race this year and returns here after running 4th in last years Melbourne Cup. He has only raced four times since then, all over 2816m, and has improved with each run with a latest 3.5 length win. He is one of 3 runners whose ownership includes the Melbourne Cup winning Lloyd Williams family who knows what it takes to win the Cup. He only carries 0.5 kg more than last year and could be in the finish again.
5. Sir Dragonet (IRE)
At his first race in Australia and his tenth career start he was a strong winner in the WS Cox Plate. He is related to Russian Camelot who was expected to win that race, as they are both sired by Camelot. Has to be considered as one of the main contenders.
6. Twilight Payment (IRE)
Last year he came for the Cup and was one of the pace-makers finishing 3.8 lengths 11th. His lead-up form looks better than last time but as a “numbers” person the fact that an eight-year-old hasn’t won the Melbourne Cup since Catalogue in 1938 makes me wary. He has won over 3200m but that was in 2016 so he won’t be in my trifectas.
7. Verry Elleegant (NZ)
This powerful mare is trained by Chris Waller who has won just about every other big race in Australia. She has had four runs this preparation for a win in the Winx Stakes, an unlucky 4th in the George Main Stakes, a win in the Turnbull Stakes and a win in the Caulfield Cup. This is her toughest test and she is untried at the distance but she is such a fighter that I know she will give it her best. The statistic against her is the fact that she has 55.5 kg to carry and Makybe Diva is the only mare to carry over 55kg to victory (and she was given that weight after she had already won one Melbourne Cup). I still think she will be fighting out the finish.
8. Mustajeer (GB)
Last year this British import won the Ebor Handicap at York, which is Europe’s richest handicap flat race, before coming here and running 1.8 lengths 6th in the Caulfield Cup, then finished 23rd in the Melbourne Cup. This year he was 3.9 lengths 8th in the Caulfield Cup and has only won one race in the last year. He goes best on rain-affected going and I don’t expect to see him in the finish here.
9. Stratum Albion (GB)
This eight-year-old gelding trained by William Mullins in Ireland has won over longer distances that any other horse in the field. He has three wins over 3300m,a win over 3400m and a win over 3600m. He has also been racing over hurdles. There is no doubt that he will run the distance but the big question is whether he can do it in a faster time than the the others. One to keep an eye on.
10. Dashing Willoughby (GB)
He arrived in Australia with some very good recent form, including a win over 3270m. He started in the Caulfield Cup where he knuckled at the start, got out to the lead and then appeared to be pulled up to finish 27 lengths last. I expect the 2 miles will suit but wonder if he can handle the big field.
11. Finche (GB)
In 2018 this son of Frankel came 4th in the Melbourne Cup after 3rd in the Geelong Cup. In 2019 he won the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes over 2000m, was 2nd in the Turnbull over 2000m, 1.6 lengths 5th in the Caulfield Cup then 1.4 lengths 7th in the Melbourne Cup. This year he was 3rd in the Turnbull then 2.45 lengths 5th in the Caulfield Cup. He has 0.5 kg more weight than he carried last year. He is one of 2 runners for Chris Waller and rates as a place chance.
12. Prince Of Arran (GB)
One of the runners in the field to have won over the Cup distance, this well-travelled gelding is having his 3rd Australian campaign. In 2018 he ran 3rd in the Herbert Power Stakes, then was impressive winning the Lexus Stakes before a solid 3rd in the 2018 Melbourne Cup. In 2019 he was a close 2nd in the Herbert Power before holding on to win the Geelong Cup as favourite, then ran a close 2nd in the Melbourne Cup. This year he came 1.95 lengths 4th in the Caulfield Cup and was running on strongly at the end. He looks a genuine winning chance even though he is an eight-year-old.
13. Surprise Baby (NZ)
This son of 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Shocking was bought for $5000 as a yearling and won the 2019 Group 2 Adelaide Cup over 3200m at his 6th start. After winning the 2019 The Bart Cummings he charged home out wide to be 0.9 length 5th in the 2019 Melbourne Cup. He has only raced twice since then and was working home strongly to the line and building momentum when 2.4 lengths 9th in the Turnbull Stakes at his latest start. He looks capable of following in his father’s footsteps. Don’t underestimate him.
14. King Of Leogrance (FR)
Back in March he was a 2.3 length winner of the 3200m Adelaide Cup and was favourite in the early Cup markets. He needed the run when he resumed in the Turnbull then put in a good fight for 3rd in the Geelong Cup. Not the worst.
15. Russian Camelot (IRE)
Another runner who has spent time as the early Melbourne Cup favourite, this four-year-old has run some very good races . He lost some fans when he finished 3rd in the Cox Plate, but Moonee Valley has brought many good horses undone when they run there for the first time. I don’t think we’ve seen this best of this horse yet and have to put him in as one of the chances.
16. Steel Prince (IRE)
Last year this seven-year-old was 4.5 lengths 7th in the Geelong Cup before 2.1 lengths 9th in the Melbourne Cup. This year his lead-up form is much stronger and he won the Geelong Cup. He is very tenacious and I think he can finish better than 9th this year.
17. The Chosen One (NZ)
He was 9th in the Caulfield Cup and ran 17th in the Melbourne Cup last year. This year he ran 3rd in the Caulfield Cup which was a much better performance, but he still hasn’t won beyond 2400m.
18. Ashrun (FR)
This five-year-old overseas raider finished 4th in the Geelong Cup which left him 29th on the Melbourne Cup order of entry so he contested the Hotham Handicap on Saturday to try and secure a run. He managed to win that narrowly and was the last horse to get in the Melbourne Cup field. He looked good winning that race and is on a three-day backup which can work for some horses. The last horse to do the Hotham Handicap – Melbourne Cup double was Shocking in 2009. I think he will run well.
Both of his wins have been at Flemington, but his 12th in the Caulfield Cup wasn’t good enough to get me enthused.
20. Etah James (NZ)
I have great respect for this mare over this distance. She was 4th in the Auckland Cup over this distance then won the Sydney Cup over this distance. She takes a long while to warm up but she is a true staying type. I will be having a couple of dollars each-way on her at the $151 currently on offer.
21. Tiger Moth (IRE)
He has only had 4 starts before (for 2 wins and 2 places) but Aiden O’Brien thought he was good enough to bring all this way to run in the Melbourne Cup. That makes me think he must be something very special. He is bred for this distance and will wonder where the rider is with only 52.5 kg on his back. Looks a big chance.
22. Oceanex (NZ)
This five-year-old Ocean Park mare got into this race with her win in the 2900m Andrew Ramsden back in May. She kept fighting for 3rd in the 2500m Moonee Valley Gold Cup at her latest outing and is not the worst.
23. Miami Bound (NZ)
She won the Moonee Valley Gold Cup by 2.5 lengths last start, but does not look as good a staying type as a lot of her opposition in this race.
This four-year-old sired by Pierro loves Flemington and has won 4 of his 5 starts at this track. He was strong to the line with his win in the Bart Cummings at his latest outing and is stepping up to this distance for the first time but looks up to it with the light weight.
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