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Cup form comments from Racetrack Ralphy

Form comments from professional Melbourne racing punter Racetrack Ralphy (@rtralphy). He has similar coverage on every Melbourne race, and you can download the 'Racetrack Ralphy' app for free from the iTunes store - each meeting charged at $1.99. You will find his speed map of the race on this earlier post. My personal assessment of the race can be found on other posts....

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As an overview, in the most open RACE – never mind Melbourne Cup – I can remember trying to analyze, I simply can’t get a confident opinion on the positive side to push anyone towards. However on the negative side I think the market has both DUNADEN and AMERICAIN far too short for the reasons listed below, with RED CADEAUX the starting point. Can the two up the top win? Of course they can. I simply can’t get them short enough to get interested in backing.

For first time users, the prices listed are how I’ve assessed the horses chances to 100% market. In other words, they are simply my own opinions. After the $31:00 chance, the rest are listed in saddlecloth, rather than assessed priced order. I normally wouldn’t write anything about runners that big in price, but hey, it’s the Melbourne Cup!

To assist any once-a-year players, all names have a number put before their names.

As far as the internationals are concerned, I’m proudly immersed in Victorian racing, so instead of pretending I’ve got a good handle about races in other jurisdictions my starting point has been the excellent Racing Victoria website where experts Greg Carpenter, Leigh Jordan, Shane Anderson and Michael Sharkie have extensive commentary as well as video links to past runs. From there I’ve still generally market weighted them, but have used the information to position them in the speed map.

My punting approach will then be to take some multiples WITHOUT DUNADEN and AMERICAIN as “everyone” will have them in. If they miss, the dividends will be monstrous, and if they run the quinella… well then I’ll just treat it as a continuing of the Derby Day hammering I took. (Gee nailing the Cox Plate winner seems a loooooooooooooong time ago!)

Good luck whatever you do punters!

(15) $11:00 (favourite!) MALUCKYDAY was runner-up in this race 2 years ago at just his 9th start as a 4 year old. On that occasion he received 3.5kgs from AMERICAIN who at that stage was a 20 start 6 year old. Now is MALUCKYDAY back to his best? If he is, then receiving 5.5kg from his conqueror when he would have WFA improvement (AMERICAIN wouldn’t from a 6 to an 8yo) AND could be set specifically for this race from the start of the prep - rather than qualifying at the last minute on Derby Day as he had to in 2010 – sees him a massive chance. His sectionals in the Geelong Cup after being slowly away said he is right on track for a massive peak run, and John Hawkes is in the Hall of Fame due to an proven ability to win Grand Finals. I’ve got him top pick in a wide open market.

(4) $12:00 RED CADEAUX was beaten an eyelash by DUNUDEN in last year’s Cup, and while he goes up 2kgs, he does meet his conqueror 2.5kgs better. That in itself is significant, but in addition he’s twice been close to DUNADEN since at Hong Kong and Royal Ascot at level weights and over 2400. He’s arguably more suited to 3200 and is only targeted for this race. Superstar Michael Rodd sticks and that is a massive plus.

(8) $12:00 MOUNT ATHOS has some fundamentals that tell you to not risk him against the market. A/ Winning form. 2/ Form-lines against Group 1 horses 3/ A trainer who understands the Melbourne Cup and Australian racing 4/ A typical winning weight range

(10) $12:00 ETHIOPIA is an extraordinary story winning the AJC Derby as a 3 start maiden, (his only run beyond 2000) and is now taking his place as a genuine contender at just his 8th start. His first two runs this time in were good-enough, but his Cox Plate 4th was sensational. That race was a war of attrition – in part caused by him on-pace with the blinkers on for the first time – yet was still there at the finish being out-bobbed by favourite PIERRO who was carrying 8kgs less. I’m comfortable in saying this: If he improves off that run – rather than it gutting him - and low-profile but regular jockey Rhys McLeod handles the occasion, he will at least finish top 5. Can he be treated like Lexus winners SHOCKING and MALUCKYDAY who ran a PB in their Cup lead-in prior to lifting the bar again in the big race?

(16) $12:00 MOURAYAN has been kept exclusively to WFA races since October last year when he won the Bart Cummings over 2500 and that could be the big clue to his chances. On that occasion he defeated subsequent Lexus winner NIWOT – who then became the first Australian horse home in the Cup when 8th – by 2 lengths carrying 3.5kgs more. MOURAYAN subsequently was a late scratching from last year’s Cup and was then defeated by less than a length by AMERICAIN and MANIGHAR at level weights in the Sandown Classic. Since then there’s no question that owner Williams has had only one race in mind and gun jockey Bowman has dedicated himself to ride 53.5kgs. He’s a serious local contender.

(12) $13:00 GALILEO’S CHOICE is a “winner” (50% strike rate) who is trained by Dermott Weld. That says respect him as the bloke has got it right four times with the horses his brought out. (2 winners and 2 placings.)

(1) $16:00 DUNADEN is a superstar to state the obvious being the reigning Melbourne and now Caulfield Cup winner after his last start astonishing last to first effort. BUT! This is a handicap and as such the FACT is he won last year’s Melbourne Cup BY A NOSE WHEN PERFECTLY RIDDEN and he HAS TO CARRY 4.5KGS MORE. As an older (7 year old) he has no weight for age improvement about him strength wise, so where is the improvement coming from to win this great race? The other query is if he was targeted this campaign at the Caulfield Cup – which is plausible – after proving his 2400 class in Hong Kong last December? He will run a terrific race due to his class, but crikey under weights and measures he is up against it.

(2) $16:00 AMERICAIN won the race two years ago with 54.5kgs and last year ran 4th with 58kgs which he has again this time. Of course of most significance is that the great local champion Damien Oliver takes over as it could be well argued the Mosse got too far out of his ground last year. He meets DUNADEN 4.5KGS better from being beaten 1.4 lengths and RED CADEUX 2KGS better. Can he again produce a world class run on the big stage? Since last year, he’s had an (unlucky) Australian prep under David Hayes, gone back to his original trainer, had a prep run in France and returned for the 3rd time. He closed very well in the Caulfield Cup suggesting he’s ready to run another cracking race. The queries? The phrase “they aren’t motorbikes” starts coming to mind as one wonders how often he can keep posting top-class performances while racking up the frequent flyer points, and he’s really up against history with the big weight and being an 8 year old.

(14) $16:00 GREEN MOON was seemingly disappointing in the Cox Plate – well he was for those who backed him – but he’s almost spookily treading the same path as Lloyd Williams previous Cox Plate winner EFFICIENT. That horse was beaten 4th up in the Cox Plate by 6.3 lengths, while this bloke was beaten 6.2 lengths and was 4th up. GREEN MOON drops a whopping 5.5kgs from that race – for the record EFFICIENT dropped 3kgs – and the owner is simply obsessed with this race and this would have been his sole aim for the past 12 months.

(17) $16:00 MY QUEST FOR PEACE ran very well in the Caulfield Cup and was probably a tad closer than they wanted to have him in the run due to his barrier. Factor in that every other on-pacer finished “nowhere” and he fits the “classic import profile” here having had 1 run in Australia and with a local proven Group 1 rider steering.

(20) $17:00 LIGHTS OF HEAVEN started her career looking like a potential superstar in winning her first 4 starts, beginning with a Cranbourne maiden and ending with a Group 1 SA Oaks win over subsequent AJC Oaks winner ABSOLUTELY and Caulfield Cup winner SOUTHERN SPEED. She was seemingly not strong enough last spring so was never tested past 2000. Her Brisbane winter campaign was very impressive culminating in two dominant Group 2 wins over first 2200 and then 2400. The only other run of her career over a 2000+ distance was last start in the Caulfield Cup when a terrific 3rd. She was slightly held up at the top of the straight when – rightfully – following DECEMBER DRAW who ultimately took her nowhere. She’s very deliberately been aimed to peak here 5th run in and gets the Moody/Nolen combination which has been so dominant in recent years.

(23) $31:00 ZABEELIONAIRE took 8 starts to break his maiden, but clearly it was more of a maturity than ability issue as he ended up winning the Group 1 South Australian Derby 3 starts later. This time in it’s been patently obvious that this has been his one and only goal from the time he’s started the prep. His past 4 runs have been at Group 1 level, when out the back early, and then working home late with good sectionals. The nagging doubt is that while his McKinnon Stakes closing run on Saturday was good, and sets him up perfectly here, has he got the class to get deep enough into the finish to become a betting proposition?

The others in – I underline – number order as opposed to their assessed chances:

3/ JAKKALBERRY endured a wide run without cover, so was slightly forgivable, but he went into that race with a class query on him and that type of run just does not fit the profile of a big Melbourne Cup performance. Happy to risk.

5/ WINCHESTER has run well in each of his 4 Australian runs and in each of them has worked home well running good sectionals. He gets back anyway, but from barrier 22 they are virtually committed to go all the way back, and while he’ll probably pass many in the straight, he doesn’t appeal as a punting proposition.

6/ VOILA ICI was fantastic 3 starts back when beaten a half length by subsequent Cox Plate winner OCEAN PARK, was then a pass-mark 4th in the Turnbull Stakes and “fell off the cliff” in the Caulfield Cup where all the leaders stopped. Backing one off that type of run isn’t any type of % play going into the Melbourne Cup.

7/ CAVALRY MAN seems another Godolphin/Dettori send-it-down-out-hope-for-the-best. When you hear how hard it would be to beat if it brought its 2009 form, you look at the calendar and notice that we’re a fair way into 2012. No thanks.

9/ SANAGAS ran ok in the Caulfield Cup, and when a great judge of a horse’s appearance in RSN’s Deane Lester said he was expecting significant improvement from his pre-race appearance, and the “Bart (Cummings) factor” targeting this race in his first prep for the great man, then he can be considered a real chance to improve for wider multi’s. An inside run and Nick Hall who is now completely comfortable as an elite level jockey, could see him pinch a vital couple of lengths in the run.

11/ FIORENTE is one international I’m happy to simply market-weight, and a win over RED CADEAUX is an obvious form-line to respect.

13/ GLENCADAM GOLD was a super looking winner of the Group 1 Metropolitan two starts back at Randwick, but in a moderate tempo race, on Gai Waterhouse’s home patch with just 52kgs, everything was in his favour. Going into a much harder race in the Caulfield Cup was a step too far for him, and a decent thrashing in that race does not fit the profile of a winner here. The nagging query though is what if “everyone” leaves him alone?

18/ NIWOT put in another unplaced run at Caulfield last start in the Cup – his 8th at the track. He bounced off a – more forgivable – poor run in that race last year to dominantly win the Lexus, before being the first Australian horse home in last year’s Cup. He’s since won a Sydney Cup and while him being 8 doesn’t worry me, where’s the improvement going to come from with 2.5kgs more?

19/ TAC DE BOISTRON was forgivable in the Geelong Cup due to the walk/dash home tempo. He’s seemingly a far superior wet track performer, but happy to market weight him here with a light weight, a world class jockey and a brilliant local trainer of stayers.

22/ UNUSUAL SUSPECT ran a terrific 6th in last year’s Caulfield Cup and snuck in for a top 10 finish in the Melbourne Cup. He went to Dubai in the autumn and seemingly hasn’t recovered. He isn’t good enough to win, but do yourself a favour and find Alan Stokes’s touching story about the owners from page 51 of the Weekend Australian Financial Review, before knocking its right to run in the race.

24/ KELLINI got the last minute inclusion into this race by winning on Saturday, but it’s a fair lead that the RVL official handicapper Greg Carpenter has elected not to give him a weight penalty after the win. There were unlucky runs and poor runs in that race yet there was still only 4.8 lengths between the first 11. Some will focus on the 6kgs weight drop, but he was just 2kgs over a high minimum. The biggest plus for me in Glen Boss who just makes it happen.

SUGGESTED BET: There's no way I can ignore ETHIOPIA'S amazing Cox Plate run, and the other overlays that I'll be on are my top rated horse MALUCKYDAY, MOURAYAN and LIGHTS OF HEAVEN. I'll be combining them with imports RED CADEAUX, MOUNT ATHOS and GALILEO'S CHOICE as a starting point, and taking some "pyramid" type punts with the a few for first, a few more for 2nd and a few more again for 3rd. Fingers crossed in a really open race!

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