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The Melbourne Cup preview - part 3, the bets!

And now for the important bit! I hope you've read the rest of the preview, otherwise it feels like I've wasted a lot of time...

Runners #1-13
Runners #14-24

SPEED MAP

Viewing from inside the course after about 500m, still well short of the first turn.



Expecting a solid early pace where they string out passing the post the first time, no notable interference and any horse who wants to get in, can. The above graphic probably gets stretched even further if there is genuine competition for the lead. But pace maps are hard enough to nail in a six-horse race let alone a 24-runner handicap worth Steve Austin (the original). Last year's map was all based around early speed and then Kingfisher got smashed out of the gates and it all went tits up, chaos theory reigned and a 100/1 shot got the chocolates.

There are enough out & out stayers in this field to want a war of attrition. And whether it's deemed team tactics or not, when you have a big hand from Godolphin and Lloy…

The Melbourne Cup preview - part 2, runners 14-24

Continuing on from my assessment of the top half of the field.

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14. Sir John Hawkwood - Group 2/3 stayer who won the weakest G1 in the land a month ago (the Metropolitan) and then looked hopelessly out of his depth at Caulfield. Off to the retirement paddock after this. Simply no.

PROS: Has the miles in his legs for a hard grind.
CONS: Beaten in races like the Tattersall's and Brisbane Cup. Needs the field to stop in front of him, simply isn't of this class and nor is his jockey.
PACE MAP: Can go anywhere from 14, won't matter.

15. Excess Knowledge - Waterhouse (and Bott)-trained, so there'll be blind money for him. Ran seventh last year, parked on the pace and swamped at the end beaten 3.1L after winning the Lexus on the Saturday. Ran fourth in the MV Cup which was a brutal race for those up on the pace. Third behind Almandin at previous start, giving him 3kg. Gate 21 with an average jockey aboard, not much going for him.

PROS: By Mo…

The Melbourne Cup preview - part 1, runners 1-13

Back after a short holiday with the family, hence the lack of posts for Derby Day. But now we're back in action for Cup day with a detailed preview!

Last year, we had the outlier race - farcical slow pace, biased track, plenty of interference and a 100/1 shot winning. Although it was a strong field, that combination of pace and bias created a mess and the shock result. This time around, it is a weaker field on paper but a slow pace is highly unlikely.

Weather - a cool spring day in the high teens, tiny amount of rain will not have any effect on the track. Haven't heard the official trackman's report but Flemington drains so well, they'd probably need to water it anyway to prevent it from getting too firm. Fair for everyone but any horse needing heavy rain will be disappointed.

The track raced perfectly on Saturday, no change expected.

Now onto the Race That Stops The Nation.

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EMIRATES MELBOURNE CUP
AU$6.2m, Group 1 Handicap
3200…

Cox Plate preview

The hype machine has been ramped up to record levels this week as the Clash of the Champions, linking beautifully to the 30 year anniversary of the 'Race of the Century'. If it can live up to the all the hyperbolae spouted this week, then what a race we are in for. But how often does an event like this live up to the hype it has whipped up?

It's my crack at this one, you know where to send the bouquets or brickbats after the race!

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William Hill Cox Plate
G1, WFA, 2040m
AU$3,050,000
Moonee Valley, 1700 AEST, 0700 BST

Happy Trails - run one placing in his last 15, not won for two years. Ran second to Shamus Award years ago, that was his moment. An indictment on the quality of this race that he is in the field.

Black Heart Bart - star of the early spring winning the Memsie and Underwood, with a second in the Makybe Diva at Flemington in the middle. Last time he was beaten by Winx in the three-runner Caulfield Stakes. While the margin was comfortable, …

Crystal Mile preview

One of my fondest racing memories was going to Cox Plate day in my first year at uni in Melbourne, hungover as hell, missing the first couple of races, backing a horse I'd seen win a trial earlier that week at Cranbourne, on the off chance it would jump to the lead and give me a decent run for my money each-way. That horse was Fendalton at 66/1 (missed the 80s) and David Taggart gave it an absolute peach of a ride. Can guarantee I was the only one in the grandstand standing up and cheering him, with reactions of 'How the f$%* did you back that?' from all around. Ah glory days from that massive bet of a buck each-way!

Enough of the old war stories, back to the action. The Crystal Mile has long been part of Cox Plate day but has only been WFA in recent years. Taking a stab at this year's edition is Austalian racing form student Callum Gogerly, @_gogs10.

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Schweppes Crystal Mile
Group 2, WFA, 1600m
AU$203,000
Moonee Valley, 1535 AEST, 0535…

Manikato Stakes preview

Wedged in between the two big Cups in Melbourne is the weekend meeting at Moonee Valley, with two top-notch G1s - the renowned W.S.Cox Plate on Saturday, and a more recent development, the Manikato Stakes on Friday night. It's all change at Moonee Valley soon, the course is going to be re-aligned to create a longer straight, which means the quirky track with a straight of under a furlong (200m) will not exist for much longer.

Summoning the courage to return after his mixed debut last week is Callum Gogerly, @_gogs10

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William Hill Manikato Stakes
Group 1 WFA, 1200m
AUD1,000,000
Moonee Valley 2130 AEST 1130 BST

Speed: The speed looks solid enough without being too hectic considering it's a 1200m Group 1 event. Expect Buffering (1) to drive through after the first 100m to take it up. I'd anticipate Holler (9) and Capitalist (11) to be thereabouts. Interestingly there are a number of get back horses with Chautauqua (2), Lucky Hussler (3), Unde…

2016 edition of the Podcast Review

Last year I posted about all the various podcasts I listen to from time-to-time, and it was one of my more popular posts. So it's time I did it again...



SEN 1116 - Melbourne sports radio station, lots of little snippets of interviews for a variety of sports, but especially Aussie Rules.

2 Guys 1 Cup - only caught this late in the season. Australian comedian Wil Anderson and his mate Charlie talk a lot of shit about footy, often with a guest or two.

BBC 5 Live Sports Specials - occasionally a good one in here, but also plenty I don't bother with.

ABC Grandstand Sports Specials - similar to the above BBC 5 Live rating, just less prolific in output.

All Out Cricket Podblast Podcast - one of several cricket podcasts I follow, and they're all slightly different. Has its moments.

Alt-F1 - very entertaining F1 and general motorsport podcast. Good mix of the serious and the piss take.

Beating the Book with Gil Alexander - Vegas podcast, mostly centred around NFL but baseball and …

Caulfield Cup preview

The Caulfield Cup, the premier 2400m handicap of the world and this week we have a dedicated broadcast on AtTheRaces for the UK audience. Hooray, but too bad if I also wanted to bet on Sydney etc. Just spare us the celebrity & fashion bullshit please...

Anyway, enough of the moaning, it's onto the race with my personal assessment of the field.

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BMW Caulfield Cup
Group 1 Handicap, $3.15m, 2400m
Caulfield 1630 AEST, 0630 BST
Rail out 6m, strong northerly wind expected (direct headwind coming down the side, approaching final turn)

Preferment - Australian Cup and BMW International winner in the autumn but hasn't got within 7L of the winner in his three runs so far this prep, all behind Hartnell. Getting older, perhaps he takes longer to warm up each campaign or maybe it's simply his targets are the championship races rather than the lead-up races where he was successful last spring. Drawn 12 after the scratchings, he'll probably sit wid…

Balmoral Handicap preview

It wouldn't be a big Ascot race day with a nasty handicap to deal with. The Balmoral Handicap concludes the programme; if you need this race to bail you out....good luck!

Returning to the fold to preview this minefield of a race is the astute @rightjudgeiam.

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The Balmoral Handicap
Class 2 Handicap, £250k, one mile (straight)
Ascot 1625 BST, 0225 AEST
Generic prices quoted from time of writing

This extremely valuable Ascot handicap is being run, for just the third time, over the straight mile on Saturday 15th October. It is precisely the course and distance of the Royal Hunt Cup run at the Royal Meeting however instead of a field of 30 this race is restricted to a maximum field size of 20 runners. The going is set to be somewhere between good and soft depending on how much rain falls from Thursday afternoon when I started writing this piece. Currently the going is given as good, good to soft in places and with just a few millimetres that could be soft by …

Long Distance Cup preview

Champions Day kicks off with the longest race of all, a curious choice, featuring the cream of local stayers. Look at the line up - an Ascot Gold Cup winner, an Ebor winner, a (English) St Leger winner, Lonsdale Cup & Prix du Cadran winner... this will be a G1 soon.

Stepping up on the first preview of the day is aspiring sports journalist Adam Crooks, @acrooks95.

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QIPCO Long Distance Cup
Group 2, £350k, two miles
Ascot 1345 BST, 2345 AEST
Generic prices quoted from time of writing

The spectacular champions day takes place at Ascot on Saturday as the flat season draws to a close. A superb card, featuring four Group 1s, promises to be a feast of high class racing. The Long Distance Cup kicks the card off, run over two miles. A Group 2 contest, I personally feel this race should be made into a Group 1 for next season. A stellar field has been assembled for the curtain raiser, with a number of high class stayers vying for some of the £300,000 up for grabs.…

QIPCO Champion Stakes preview

The feature on what is a brilliant QIPCO Champions Day at Ascot is the Champion Stakes, attracting a wealth of talent from across Europe, with over £700,000 going to the winner. And with the best British hope 12/1 currently, the prize could certainly be taken across shores, be it to Ireland or France.

Saddling on for the biggest race of the day is aspiring sports journalist Conor Stroud, @conorstroud95.

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QIPCO Champion Stakes
Group 1, £1.3million, 1m2f
Ascot 1545 BST, 0145 AEST
Generic prices quoted from time of writing

Fascinating Rock – 5/1
One of the lighter-raced horses this year in the field, Fascinating Rock represents a real danger as Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen’s charge seeks to defend his title. Following the victory here last year, he was beaten by Found on reappearance but would win the Tattersall's Gold Cup in Ireland. He was surprisingly beaten last time out by Success Days, but could definitely still be a threat, if on top form.

Gabrial - 6…

Caulfield Sprint preview

Once the Cup's been and gone, you'd better start looking for the next race to top up those winnings (or dig yourself out of a hole). Straight after the Cup is the Caulfield Sprint featuring the return of star speedster Lankan Rupee and the next step for potential star Hellbent.

Tasked with splitting them is this week's debut previewer, local form analyst Callum Gogerly, @_gogs10.

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Dilmah For Lovers Of Tea Caulfield Sprint
Group 2 Handicap, 1000m, AU$200k
Caulfield R9
1710 AEST, 0710 BST
Prices quoted from Sportsbet at time of writing

Speed: 1000m so don’t expect any loafing here. Faatinah (3) will work across to try and be prominent you would think while Wild Rain (4) will look to use the barrier, whether that is leading/outside leader or one back the running line is up to Stephen Baster. Lankan Rupee (1) usually pings the lids and can be prominent, while favourite Hellbent (5) you would expect to be midfield or worse.

1- Lankan Rupee ($11)- Former spr…