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Melbourne Cup preview - my form comments

First of my Cup posts - individual runner comments, I'll write another post with how I see the race panning out and my recommended bets a bit later. You'll be able to work out my top pick from this post...

FORM COMMENTS

1. Dunaden. Penalised 1kg for a sensational Caulfield Cup victory, carrying topweight and drawing 18 of 18. Three starts in Australia for three wins. Ignore all the fuss about the weight - Makybe Diva won her third Cup carrying 58kg, which is at least as heavy as Dunaden carries, depending upon which sex allowance you care to give. Revels in the big events and the way Australian racing unfolds. Freak of a horse, just keeps meeting the challenges put in front of him.

2. Americain. Trying to become the first horses since Peter Pan (1932-34) to regain the Cup after having lost the crown. Listed as an 8yo in southerm hemisphere time, but that's misleading, still only 7. Huge run in the Caulfield Cup after being left behind, Gerard Mosse has been given 'le flick' and on goes Damien Oliver, who won the Derby on a 40/1 shot on the weekend. Meets Dunaden 4.5kg better for 1.5L defeat last year, but was still 1.5L behind his compatriot in the Caulfield Cup at level weights. Do not see why he is favourite, Dunaden has beaten him four times out of four.

3. Jakkalberry. Out the gate in the betting since a poor run in the Caulfield Cup when posted three wide without cover for the trip. Drawn wide again and I just don't rate the bloke in the saddle. He has a single digit strike rate % of winners in Britain and Ireland, too comfortable riding the pacemakers for the O'Brien stable rather than racking up winners. Would be a massive boilover if he won.

4. Red Cadeaux. Beaten a lip last year, form much the same this time around. Up 2kg on last year (Dunaden goes up 4.5kg, Americain static), draws wide again. Last year he turned up off a seven-week layoff, this time it's nearly four months. Ed Dunlop is a mighty good travelling trainer and Michael Rodd is back on board. In the mix but have to put a few above him.

5. Winchester. Old timer who keeps plodding home. Drawn 22, will hook back and pray for luck. Just a midfield run in the Caulfield Cup, had every chance though, the French horses left him for dead. Couldn't get past Zabeelionaire on Sat in the Mackinnon off a fast pace, would need 15 horses to fall for him to be a winning chance!

6. Voila Ici. Had gone well in the leadup to Caulfield, then ran a shocker due to constant pressure, the firm track and probably the crowd. Supposed to race hand rather than go after the lead this time, but can only see that giving him a chance to run in the top 10.

7. Cavalryman. Godolphin stable stats read 16:0-3-1. Six wins have all been in single-digit sized fields. The Frankie factor (last race for the stable) might sound like a story but the horse simply ain't good enough. Ran third in Sea The Stars' Arc win in 2009, has regressed 10lbs since then and I reckon that's generous.

8. Mount Athos. This year's English hype horse. The Poms can't understand why he's not a clear favourite. I can't see why he's under 16/1. Has won all three starts in 2012, but what has he actually beaten? The York win in July (with a big weight) was over a mob of plodders, then he went up 8lb in the ratings before beating a field of underperformers at Newbury. He MIGHT be good enough, the UK handicapper rates him within 1kg of Dunaden. Personally I think that is ridiculous. Drawn well, top class (but new to Flemington) jockey aboard.

9. Sanagas. American stayer = not up to the rest of them. Reasonable run in the Caulfield Cup, finishing on nicely in midfield along the inside. But his best form is around that distance, so hard to see him growing an extra leg to win this race over further. Might finish top 10.

10. Ethiopia. Might be the best of the Aussie-bred horses, ran a very nice fourth in the Cox Plate at only his seventh career start. alongside Pierro, and going forward for the first time. Trainer has been very patient with this one and won the AJC Derby at just his fourth start - quite common in Europe, virtually unheard of in Australia. Trainer has repeatedly said that the Cox Plate was the aim this campaign and they were never certain about running in the Cup, they didn't want to overtax the horse so early in his career. That could be the trainer keeping his cards close to his chest but I can't go for a horse that hasn't had this race as his target. Expecting him to be around the placings though.

11. Fiorente. I've always had a decent opinion of this horse, but this campaign has been a bit upside down. Gai Waterhouse bought him just over a month ago, so she's had no time to put her polish on him, he hasn't run in Australia and nor has he run past 2400m. Flogged by Dunaden and My Quest For Peace in May, but beat Red Cadeaux at wfa in July. Jockey is very talented but also prone to brainfades, and drawn gate two, he'll need a lot of luck. Look for this one next year.

12. Galileo's Choice. Really like this one. D.Weld-trained - tick. 50% win strike rate, tick. Dermot Weld recently trained a Group winner on British Champions Day, first up for 522 days over two miles, and another winner on the card in a G1 (both with this jockey aboard). The stable is firing, and knows how to do this. Has the race evolved further since his last win with Media Puzzle? Does that even matter? Ignore the fact he has run over jumps, his last run over the sticks (7th in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival) is about as strong as any staying race in Europe - it is that high class, and the atmosphere isn't much different. Dermot has had this one pencilled in for the Cup for a couple of years, hasn't run him often to beat the handicapper. He's drawn perfectly and the jockey has been here before - best result of second and fourth on Vinnie Roe. He's right in this.

13. Glencadam Gold. Great form in Australia until the Caulfield Cup - do you forgive that or strike him out completely? Always believed in forgive any horse it's first run at Caulfield, and got no peace in front. If he settles better (drawn a good gate, different jockey aboard) then he can run much better. Trainer has tried to spark him up by throwing him over a few hurdles in training. Can't see him winning, but could be one for value in the exotics if he can hang on in the straight.

14. Green Moon. Favourite in the Cox Plate and ran flat, finishing midfield. Was three wide in that race, but with plenty of cover, couldn't make excuses for him. Craig Williams gets off, but can't mark him down with Brett Prebble getting on. Drawn well, should get a good smother but I have my doubts about him bouncing back. Stable has tapered off in recent weeks, but did win the last race on Saturday. Drops back from weight-for-age to handicaps conditions, dropping 5.5kg. Were his leadup runs as strong as we thought? Not much has come out of those races and gone on and won. Prepared to risk him.

15. Maluckyday. Second behind Americain two years ago (received 3.5kg from him, beaten 2.8L). Has had injury issues since, but now showing signs of being near that form. No luck in Geelong Cup, played up before hand, got back in the field and turned into a very quick sprint home. Loves Flemington, should sit about midfield, has to have a chance.

16. Mourayan. Import who has been in Aus for a few years now, strong win in the Craven Plate last time but that is never a strong race. Needs to jump well to take advantage of gate three, he usually runs on the pace and tries to run them off their feet as he keeps increasing the tempo. Doesn't have the turn of foot of some of his rivals, so will need to be near the front on the bend. Ran third in the Zipping Classic last year, beaten under a length by Americain and Manighar at wfa (slow pace to his advantage). Has only won four from 32, doesn't win often enough for mine and this is a big step up. Place chance.

17. My Quest For Peace. Finished a close-up fifth in the Caulfield Cup off a cheap run behind the solid pace, only having to go around one horse. Was entitled to win that race if at his best, perhaps he has improved at his first run in Australia, but conversely, Caulfield suits the cheap inside run better with that 90 degree bend. Drawn the inside rail, can take the same cheap run again. Can't underestimate the Cumani stable, but just a place chance for me.

18. Niwot. First local home last year but seemingly not in the same form now. Ran 12th in Caulfield Cup last year (same this time) but then had to win the Lexus to get in the Cup field. No such requirement this time so the form looks a bit flat. Even still, could only finish eighth in 2011, can't see him getting any closer this time as an eight-year-old, albeit a lightly raced one.

19. Tac De Boistron. French import run off his feet at Geelong in the mad sprint home. Decent form through Shahwardi and Brigantin in France, but his dry track record - 11 starts for not even one placing suggests his connections will be doing a Van Der Hum (rain dance) to give him any hope.

20. Lights Of Heaven. Third in the Caulfield Cup off a perfect sit, this time she has drawn 17. Not run this far before but is by Zabeel, ran away from them in the Brisbane Cup (2400m) and held her place well at Caulfield. Thought Caulfield was her chance, on-pacers not as well suited here, think she will have to do a bit of work to get a position and that might find her out in the last 400m.

21. Precedence. No hope, should not be in the field. Has tried and failed before. Only win in last two years was a weak 1600m handicap at Moonee Valley. Cummings or no Cummings, he'll be a long way behind at the finish post.

22. Unusual Suspect. Another horse with no chance in hell. 9yo (8.5 in Northern Hemisphere time), hasn't run better than in any race since last year's Cup (ran ninth). Not won in two years, won't be changing that stat here.

23. Zabeelionaire. Drawn the car park out in 24, complete contrast to Caulfield where he drew the inside rail and finished sixth. Close enough in the Mackinnon on Saturday but can't see him making that step up to be a genuine chance.

24. Kelinni. Impressive winner of the Lexus on Saturday but consensus is that was a weak edition. Drops 6kg, there's no finer rider in the Cup than Glenn Boss who takes the ride, furthest beaten margin in his last 10 starts was 3.8L in the Metropolitan where he ran second to Glencadam Gold who had a very easy run. Genuine, goes in as a lightweight place hope.

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Live at 4am UK time for the northern hemisphere, coverage on At The Races all night from 11pm. Or if you don't have Sky/prefer local coverage, visit Racing Network for live action. Timeform Radio also broadcasting throughout the night.

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