Melbourne Cup Horses 2020 | Shane Crawford’s tips, guide to...

Everyone has their Melbourne Cup traditions – they choose their favorite number, favorite color, favorite jockey, funny or relatable horse names.

I say to all of this: YEP! Whatever works for you, whatever your theory, stick with it.

That’s the great thing about racing. Everyone has different systems and approaches. Favorite coach, favorite barriers … EVERYTHING makes sense to me!

Go with your belly, it’s all good. Ultimately, we all want to support the winner.

We want to brag about our friends. And we want to make some money; The cup winner usually pays pretty good odds.

Here are the horses I like and avoid for this year’s Melbourne Cup.

Shane Crawford. (Getty)


This horse will have a ton of cups and a lot of Aussies to support it.

Things went well in the Cup last year, finishing fifth after coming back from the right. Everything since that race has been geared towards having one more rift. “We will peak on this day in a year”.

And it is trained in the bush on the outskirts of Horsham with Paul Preusker. It’s one of those fairy tales – but more importantly, this horse has an engine. It really has.

Craig Williams jumped off last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Vow and Declare to ride Surprise Baby. That’s always a very good head start. He made this decision early.

This horse will flash home and I would be very surprised if it didn’t finish right. And it’s a cool name: SURPRISE BABY!

It’s my first choice. I hope the Australian battle fairy tale comes true.

Whatever you do with your bets, throw Surprise Baby in somewhere. I just think that next Tuesday be careful – this horse will fly in the middle.

Melbourne Cup runner Surprise Baby during a run at Horsham in October. (Getty)


I am always very careful with a certain type of English or Irish horse.

It is a long way to go to send a horse, a very expensive exercise, to get for the trophy. They don’t come on vacation – they want the prize money.

Stratum Albion, who is around 50-1, sets off alarm bells for me. He is also a hurdler and is trained by Willie Mullins who has run horses like Max Dynamite very well in previous cups. And it belongs to Tony Bloom, a billionaire poking tycoon.

ALARM BELLS! These are cagey people who know what they’re doing. Something is wrong with this horse.

Not only that, it’s my favorite number: No. 9. It was my footer number, I work at Channel Nine and was born on the ninth of the ninth.

I have to be able to do something! It only works better that he has a smart old Irish coach who used to be a jockey. He jumped hurdles, settled down after qualifying, is ready for the race and it’s a long way before he doesn’t finish …

And he’s 50-1! Very beautiful. Stratum Albion has my name written all over him, he will definitely get some of my money.

Stratum Albion during track work in Werribee. (Getty)


I assume almost everyone will have a dollar on this horse because of the Australian taste.

Danny O’Brien coached Vow and Declare to win last season’s Melbourne Cup. I think Vow and Declare is probably past his big day and Russian Camelot, an Ireland-bred stallion with Damien Oliver on board, is now the stable’s biggest chance.

Danny is a Hawthorn fanatic and I also owned a horse with him. He’s a good Hawks man – I remember the night after we won the Grand Final in 2008, Danny was best on the floor at the after party!

I’ve always had a soft spot for him and his horses, especially in the big races. I supported Vow and Declare in the cup last year, partly out of loyalty, partly out of hope, because the horse was in good shape and he saluted appropriately.

Danny has Miami Bound, Russian Camelot, King of Leogrance and Vow and Declare in this year’s Cup. It quickly becomes an expensive race for me to place a bet!

Russian Camelot in the assembly yard in front of the Cox plate. (Getty)

My process of elimination

This is my best advice for cup pops: it’s a process of elimination that tries to narrow it down to a few horses that could win and then attack it from there.

The hardest thing about the cup these days is that the national team ruined it – their horses are better stayers than ours! And it’s a little harder to determine the winner these days when you can’t just ride the horse that the late, great Bart Cummings trained.

In particular, recent history suggests that weight is a key factor on the Melbourne Cup 3,200m, almost regardless of how good the horse is. Makybe Diva was the last to win with any serious weight in 2005 – a record 58kg for a mare, for her third trophy – but she was an absolute freak.

Glad to stay off the top 4 because of the weight issue. I treat them as a scratch right away, although maybe I shouldn’t. To me they are an asset and I work my way back from there.

This year it’s scratching Anthony Van Dyck, Avilius, Vow and Declare and Master of Reality.

Aidan O’Brien’s # 1, Anthony Van Dyck, is a class horse but it never won the distance. It had a decent second run in the Caulfield Cup but failed to win, and here he does another 800m at 58.5kg.

Anthony Van Dyck during his Investec Derby win at Epsom last year. (Getty)

Every year somewhere in the first four we always see something from # 20-24. The lightweights always give you a good price-performance ratio, there is always a horse on the ground that runs well and reaches the finish line.

Focus on those last four horses for trifectas and first-fours, or even for a winner. If you like the look of something, go for it.

Tiger Moth is another Aidan O’Brien horse in 21st place, he carries 52.5 kg and has three-time cup winner Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle. He’s one who could probably blow them apart, yeah …

But I just can’t support a horse named Tiger Moth. It’s just a strange name. Seriously – why should you name your horse Tiger Moth?

If they’d come up with a better name, I might have supported it. Granted, it’s probably the best light weight international horse. But I just can’t do it.

Tiger Moth won the Paddy Power Stakes on his last start. (Getty)

I also don’t like fitness hiccups before big races.

There is a lighter horse called Oceanex that had to be relieved of lameness in her right front leg. If you can have a ticket for the horse that comes last, I think that could be it.

Not that the horse isn’t good enough to run well, but it does have a few concerns and I like to stay away from these.

There are a couple of good Aussies to choose from. I mentioned Surprise Baby and Russian Camelot and Warning is another; trained by the Freedmans and they know how to win.

It’s always a good decision to work with coaches who have won in the past. You obviously know what ingredients are needed.

Melbourne Cup runner’s surprise baby: Shane Crawford’s hot tip. (Getty)


1. Surprise baby 2. Stratum Albion 3. Russian Camelot 4. Finche

Confidence is EXTREMELY low with the top 4 – but I’ve been the winner at Surprise Baby for a while. I firmly believe this horse was prepared for a breed, and it is.

Another thing I would suggest is not to put all your money into a race. The Melbourne Cup is incredibly difficult to overturn, especially with all the international horses these days.

Spread your bets out over the day so you don’t have to wallow in disappointment if you don’t get the cup winner.

But you have to be there to win it. Tip the Melbourne Cup winner is a boastful right for a full year, and it is invaluable when dealing with your friends.

We are all geniuses when we tip a winner and think about it. “How did you not see that?” To avoid disappointment, you can do what some of my friends do, which is to have $ 2 on each horse in the race, only to say you tipped off the cup winner!

Trifectas, first four – are a blast because the prize pool is so big. If you can get a percentage of this then you will have a very good Christmas.

Verry Elleegant wins Caulfield Cup 2020. (Getty)

It’s going to be a strange Melbourne Cup this year, with nobody going to the racetrack. I’ll just watch at home.

I have a friend, John O’Neill, with three horses in the Melbourne Cup. All he ever wanted was to get a Melbourne Cup winner and in the year he has three good chances in the race he can’t even go to Flemington to watch!

John has Caulfield Cup winner Verry Elleegant, Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet and Warning too. Loyalty in friendship is important so I hope he wins – but I’ve told him that maybe it will be better if he wins next year if he can actually be there and really experience what it’s about by playing The Race That Stops a Take Out Nation.

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