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Racing News
Tuesday 24th October 2017
2017 Melbourne Cup: A Preview

The Melbourne Cup is widely regarded as the pinnacle event of the Australian flat racing season. Raced over 3,200 metres at Flemington, the inaugural race was held back in 1861 and it is still as popular as ever. In fact, it is labelled as the richest two mile handicap on the planet – there was $6.2 million in the prize fund for the 2016 edition of the race. Just like in the UK with Grand National betting the punters come out in their droves to take part.

ALMANDIN was the winner on that day last year, narrowly beating Heartbreak City by a short head. He gave jockey Kerrin McEvoy a superb ride to notch a second Melbourne Cup win for trainer Robert Hickmott after Green Moon’s triumph in 2012. The defending champion will be there or thereabouts again this year and it will come as no surprise to see Almandin at the top of the betting markets.

Meanwhile, MARMELO will also rank prominently in the build-up to the race and with good reason. Having already beaten two exceptional horses in Bateel and Desert Skyline in 2017, Marmelo looks well placed to lay down a serious challenge in this race. Sired by former flat racing superstar Duke of Marmalade, this lightly raced five-year-old can justify favouritism at Flemington with another solid effort.

Marmelo’s rise to prominence has got punters reeling on RED CARDINAL. An early market leader for November’s big race, he was well beaten by Marmelo at Deauville in August and he will need sincere improvement to win the Melbourne Cup. It would be foolish to write him off just yet but this may be a step too far for Red Cardinal; when the going gets tough, the tough get going and he could struggle.

As with most major events these days, Willie Mullins will have a representative in this year’s Melbourne Cup and the versatile THOMAS HOBSON flies the flag for his yard. Beaten one and a half lengths by Desert Skyline at Doncaster, he must find more to beat Marmelo but the jockey booking of Joao Moreira could be decisive. Thomas Hobson stands a reasonable chance with “Magic Man” on board.

Ryan Moore, arguably the best jockey in the business, will almost certainly ride JOHANNES VERMEER – the best chance of three Aidan O’Brien entries at Flemington. Wicklow Brave has had his heyday but Max Dynamite could challenge with a bit of luck. Moore knows what it takes to win a Melbourne Cup after guiding Protectionist to victory in 2014.

Trainer Lloyd Williams has an exceptional record in this race, winning it twice since 2012. If Johannes Vermeer is deemed ready to go, a third triumph could well be on the cards. Moore will be quietly confident that his 10/1 shot can at least push the likes of Thomas Hobson and Marmelo close. Johannes Vermeer could be the one to beat on November 7th.

A field of 24 will go to post next month and if the race turns out anything like last year, all 24 are in with a chance of victory. The Melbourne Cup is usually an exciting watch and punters will be expecting a hard-fought encounter. Can Almandin emulate Makybe Diva by winning back-to-back Melbourne Cups or will we have a new champ? All eyes will be on Flemington for one of the most eagerly anticipated races on the calendar.

The form guide suggests that MARMELO is the one to beat here but Thomas Hobson may be worth a second look. Moreira gave Heartbreak City a dream ride in 2016 but fell agonisingly short and he could go one better next month to give Mullins yet another major success.