The 2013 Melbourne Cup according to Jeffers

melbourne-cupThe 2013 Melbourne Cup tomorrow is full of internationals that have varying degrees of form and I thought I would ask my UK correspondent Mark Knight to share his thoughts on the major contenders for the ‘race that stops a nation’ tomorrow.

Mark, or Jeffers as he is commonly known, is responsible for the excellent Racing Zone website which has the best form guides online, and he is a keen racing enthusiast who follows Australian racing very closely and is also quite knowledgeable on the home front, especially with English racing.

I asked him for his in depth thoughts on the major players and here is what he had to say.

Red Cadeaux
A real Globe trotter, Red Cadeaux seems to come alive when raced on foreign soil. His trainer, Ed Dunlop recently stated that “He just loves being away from home…” In a 7 month spell – from last December to May he raced on 6 occasions, in 5 different countries.

Aiming to win the Melbourne Cup for the first time, on his 3rd attempt, Red Cadeaux could be somewhat overpriced. His recent run in the Irish St Leger was not as pleasing as was hoped – but that run can be discounted as we know he relishes racing on foreign soil and perhaps racing in Ireland is too close to home for him nowadays.

A winner over $5 million in prize money, Red Cadeaux has been a fantastic servant to connections so far and could well outrun his odds in what is surely his final crack at winning this.

Brown Panther
A winner of 7 of his 17 career starts, Brown Panther could be a dark horse in this year’s renewal. Part owned by Michael Owen, the 5 year old is a solid contender and has been picked out by legendary Australian trainer Gai Waterhouse as being a serious player. She was quoted this week saying the work of Brown Panther was “…the best bit of work outside of my horse (Fiorente)”.

Connections have been pleased with the way Brown Panther has travelled from the UK – with the horse actually gaining weight since settling into his stables at Werribee. Tom Dascombe, Brown Panther’s trainer, has however been rocked by the news of the horse’s head groom being sent home from Australia for a serious breach of quarantine regulations. The trip should not be a problem, with Brown Panther having won well over 2 miles already this year at Goodwood – in doing so he comfortably beat Mount Athos by 10 lengths into 8th position, yet Brown Panther is available at odds nearly 4 times that of Mount Athos. A real contender.

Dandino
Placed in 18 of his 26 career starts, Dandino is admirably consistent. A winner of nearly $1.4m so far in his career, the 7 year old is now looking to go one step better than he managed in the Caulfield Cup. A gallant 2nd position from a very wide draw saw him display his immense potential to the Australian public for the first time. In finishing second he propelled himself to the head of the market for the Melbourne Cup, and the booking of big race jockey Ryan Moore can only be viewed as a further positive. Moore, an unlucky 5th in last year’s renewal aboard Mount Athos hopes to silence the critics who slammed him over his ride in the race last year. He has the chance to do that this year, with Dandino a real contender to take this before heading off to race in further valuable races in Hong Kong and Dubai.

Mount Athos
The 7 year old gelding by Montjeu was placed 5th behind Green Moon in the 2012 renewal of this race, and will hope to be able to improve on that this year. That being said, he has only won once since last November – in a small field over 2400m at Chester; vastly different conditions to those of the Melbourne Cup. Last time out he placed 2nd behind Harris Tweed over 2800m at Goodwood. His jockey that day, Richard Hughes, has been quoted as saying that he would be “…very surprised if he (Mount Athos) finishes ahead of Simenon… I cannot understand why Simenon is available at more than twice the odds of Mount Athos”.

Luca Cumani, the trainer of Mount Athos is seeking his first victory in this iconic race after twice finishing second in recent years. He may, however, have to wait another year before breaking his duck.

Royal Empire
Godolphin saddle Royal Empire, a 5 year old colt by Teofilo, for the race and will be hoping to continue their hot streak in big international races. Fresh from the victory of Outstrip in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf last Friday night, the operation will be hoping to bag this with their highly consistent colt. Only out of the frame on 3 of his 13 career races, Royal Empire finished an impressive second behind stable mate Secret Number last time out over 2400m at Ascot in October.

His trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor was bullish of Royal Empire’s Melbourne Cup prospects after the race, stating that “…he is still in the mix for the Melbourne Cup”. He will probably need some of the market principals to run below par, but cannot be discounted and can give a good showing for Godolphin.

Ruscello
Ruscello takes his chance here after finishing second over 2000m at Caulfied in October. The 5 year old has largely been campaigned in low level races so far in his career – a fact that is proven by his career earnings; $50,000 up until Saturday. However, a win in the Group 3 Lexus saw that figure boosted significantly, and also secured trainer Ed Walker a first runner in the Melbourne Cup. The trainer was not overly confident of a win in the Lexus, and had been quoted as saying that even victory in the ‘win and you are in’ race would not see his horse automatically take his place in the Melbourne Cup field. Saying that, he was a gallant winner and is going to line up for the Cup.

Kerrin McEvoy steered him to his latest victory, and although he will be partnering Royal Empire in the Cup he said of Ruscello, “He’s a lightly raced horse that’s going to get into the field at 20-30/1, so you might as well have a crack.” An interesting contender.

Verema
This French raider provides The Aga Khan with a first Melbourne Cup runner, and he has a live chance of winning the race. Trained by Alain de Royer Dupre – Verema has been prepared for the race in a similar manner to that of Americain – the 2010 winner of the Cup. The filly won her last outing, the Group 2 Prix de Kergolay over 2800m at Deauville in impressive fashion, beating colts like Joshua Tree with ease. Americain also won this race prior to winning the 2010 renewal, and de Royer Dupre believes Verema has the right profile to follow up and win the Melbourne Cup.

Verema will be partnered by Christophe Lemaire in the Cup – a significant pointer. The jockey won the Cup aboard Dunaden in 2011, and subsequently knows exactly what it takes to win the race. A really interesting contender, and certainly one that you would expect to make the frame at the very least. She seems tough as nails, and will be very difficult to pass if she does get in front close to home.

Simenon
Simenon is a fascinating entry for shrewd trainer Willie Mullins. The trip will certainly not be an issue – with the 7 year old having fantastic form in the book up to distances of 4400m over hurdles as well as on the flat. With his place in the field secured after Silent Achiever was confirmed as being a scratching from the race on Saturday, it would be unwise to rule out Simenon. Jockey Richard Hughes is very confident of Simenon coming up with a big performance – he has been quoted saying, “…everything seems to have gone perfectly in his preparation and I believe the bookmakers have got some of the prices wrong towards the top of the market”.

His fitness was certainly proven with an excellent 3rd, behind Sea Moon, in the Herbert Power. Surely he is one of Europe’s best chances of winning the Melbourne Cup.

Masked Marvel
An adopted Australian – Masked Marvel was once fancied for the Epsom Derby. He fell short of top class that day, finishing down the field behind Pour Moi. However, he did taste classic victory when romping home in the St Leger, to beat Brown Panther over 2800m – breaking the track record in the process. He last raced in the UK in September 2012, where he finished 8th, over 3600m before being bought to Australia.

Since then, he has struggled to find the form which he displayed in the UK, and has been raced over trips that are surely too short for him. He has potential over the extended trip of the Melbourne Cup and cannot be ruled out.

Fiorente
A class horse, seen finishing 2nd to Green Moon in the Melbourne Cup last year – Fiorente has to be fancied to go one better this year. A top class horse in the UK, Fiorente won races at Newbury and Newmarket and also showed himself in an excellent light in finishing second to the ill fated Nathaniel in the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot. He clearly gets the trip, having proven that last year – and has been prepared for this year’s renewal since then. An impressive win over a mile in the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes was followed by an excellent 3rd in the Cox Plate – over an insufficient 2000m in October.

That will have got him right on for a second crack at the Cup, and will surely be the well supported favourite on the day. Tres Blue A French import to Gai Waterhouse’s stable – Tres Blue comes to Flemington with a chance of causing an upset. Having never raced outside his native country.

Tres Blue
Could be flying somewhat under the radar here. Winner of 4 of his 10 career races, and being placed in a further 3 shows the consistency the colt has – and the fact that he has won over 2600m on soft ground at Deauville in a competitive Group 2 would suggest he does get the trip. 2 miles should certainly not be a problem and Tres Blue could well be staying on down the home straight at Flemington.

He beat Cirrus Des Aigles last time out, and any horse that can do that cannot be ruled out. Cirrus Des Aigles showed he is still top class in finishing a very close second behind Farhh in the Champion Stakes last month. Tres Blue has a solid form line coming into this race and cannot be ruled out.

Voleuse De Coeurs
An Irish raider, who comes to Flemington on the back of an impressive victory in the Group 1 Irish St Leger last month at the Curragh. By Teofilo, he has the right pedigree to win the Melbourne Cup, and has advertised his staying credentials by winning large field races (20 and 27 runners) over 2 miles on soft and heavy ground at Galway and The Curragh respectively. The large field, and hustle and bustle that comes with it will not inconvenience this rock solid stayer.

Unplaced in only 3 of his 13 career starts (finishing 4th on 2 occasions), it appears that the horse simply does not know when to give up. Expect to see a strong performance from an under-rated horse that could go off at an over inflated price. A genuine dark horse.

Sea Moon
A seriously talented horse, who had the beating of Al Kazeem over 2400m last year at York. He has also ran well behind Masked Marvel in the St Leger, and has beaten the re-opposing Dandino and Dunaden over 2400m at Goodwood and Ascot. He was not seen in his best light when finishing a disappointing 8th in the Arc last year, but a muddling pace did for him that day, and since then he has shown he is capable of getting his nose in front – winning at Flemington and Caulfield already this season (although demoted to second place at Flemington).

It seems it took him a few months to get settled in the Australian racing way of life – with 2 very sub par performances kicking off his career, but things are looking up now. There must be a question mark over his ability to stay 2 miles – but there is also a chance that his class could see him through. Shortlisted.

Seville
An ex Coolmore inmate, Seville is a very talented horse – but does seem to have found winning to be difficult. He won a 4 runner race at Tipperary back in 2010, but it then took him 3 years and 2 days to get his head back in front again. That being said, his most recent victory – The Group 1 Metropolitan at Randwick showed him to be in good fettle. Last seen finishing 7th behind Shamus Award in the Cox Plate – he should be race fit and ready to make his presence felt in the Cup.

It does look like he needs to race to be run to suit him, so will need some luck in running, but he cannot be totally ruled out.

Summary

So what does it all mean? Well there is a lot of genuine chances according to Jeffers and if push come to shove then Simenon is the value according to him.

So who is the best of the home grown gallopers?

In Jeffers opinion that would be Hawkspur.

Personally, on their Caulfield Cup runs, I don’t know how Hawkspur can possibly finish ahead of Dandino, but that’s what makes the Melbourne Cup the race that it is, everyone has an opinion.

We will find out tomorrow, a few minutes after 3pm.

Good luck to all owners with a horse in the Melbourne Cup and may Dandino win to start a party in Melbourne that could last quite some time!

 

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