There are high profile competitors from overseas who compete against an enormous number of Australian runners. At 3 p.m. there will be one of the most fascinating editions of the race that we have ever seen.
There’s undeniable quality sprinkled with the usual romance and a touch of old-fashioned parochialism.
We have unparalleled quality this year with topweight Anthony Van Dyck, an Epsom Derby winner, flanked by his lightweight but highly respected stablemate, Tiger Moth of the Aidan O’Brien farm. He has just started his fifth race – it would be an incredible achievement if he won.
Then there is the crowd’s favorite, eight-year-old Prince Of Arran, who is back to his third inclination at the Cup at number 45. He is one of only four horses that have had 30 or more runs.
Interestingly, there are only 10 runners who have recorded 20 or more starts against their name. It’s a sign of the times. Gone are the days of the Melbourne Cup sucker now being replaced by high profile stayers capable of winning Group 1 races at the WFA level.
There’s six-time Group 1 winner Verry Elleegant, and 2020 Cox Plate hero Sir Dragonet, topweight Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, and Russian Camelot and Warning. Then there are Oaks winners Miami Bound and Verry Elleegant ticking one more box.
History tells us that some are against it on Tuesday, but horses don’t read history books, nor do they read form guides.
Now all the hard work is done and the 24 combatants are ready for the “race that will hold the nation”.
This year is like no other year due to the impact of the COVID pandemic, so the vast majority of us will be watching from afar, owners and punters alike glued to the TV and cheering as hard as ever. Forget about driving from the grandstand, it is driven from the lounge.
But who will it be who will be allowed to hold the “Loving Cup” 2020 aloft, even if it is a bizarre virtual scenario?
I’ve made up my mind to check them in and out from top to bottom, giving my opinion on whether they can win or not, and give a rough guide on where I think they will end before I get into my Melbourne Cup betting strategy get ready.
# 1 – ANTHONY VAN DYCK (Can he win – YES)
No question about it, he’s top-notch and he’s got a lot of accents including top jockey Hugh Bowman and Barriere Three, but he still has to carry 58.5kg for things to go right, but he has fantastic ID. Must be just right for a podium. Projected finished 1st – 6th ..
No.2 – AVILIUS (can he win – NO)
He seems to have been there forever and hasn’t won in his last 11 starts. Has to carry 57 kg and although he was good in the Caulfield Cup question mark on 3200m. 10th – 15th
# 3 – Vows and Declaration (Can he win – NO)
The hero of the last year who only just got through, but this time is not nearly as advanced and has to carry an additional 5 kg. Would be a great story, but unfortunately can’t see a happy ending this time. 14. – 20 ..
# 4 – MASTER OF REALITY (Can he win – NO)
Looked the winner for a good portion of the straight last year before going narrowly down and then losing second place in protest. Worthy of respect, certainly, but questioning one’s ability against some others. 7th – 12th ..
No.5 – SIR DRAGONET (Can he win – YES)
Was stellar as a Cox Plate winner and less than a length of Anthony Van Dyck in fifth in the Epsom Derby. Carries 3 kg less than the top weight here. Does he need it wet? I say no. 1st – 5th ..
Coach Ciaron Maher rides Melbourne Cup Hope Sir Dragonet during a beach session at Mordialloc. Photo by Vince Caligiuri / Getty Images
No.6 – TWILIGHT PAYMENT (Can he win – YES)
Totally flown back to Ireland and although he was beaten on the last start his run was full of merit. Finished midfield last year but is much better this time. 1st – 7th ..
No.7 – VERY ELLEEGANT (Can she win – NO)
How can you doubt this mare? If you went to war, she would be one of the first on your team. May look a little awkward on the run, but she loves stoush and hates to lose. Must shoulder 55.5 kg for the first time and out to 3200 m. I have them about there, but I am not winning. 3rd – 7th ..
No.8 – MUSTAJEER (Can he win – NO)
To finish midfield in the Caulfield Cup and the run was reasonable, but to question his class against the majority of them. It’s impossible to see him win and not expect him to finish in the first half. 14th – 22nd.
No.9 – STRATUM ALBION (Can he win – NO)
Very smart trainer who didn’t bring the horse for a vacation, although some people give him a rough shot, I’m not one of them. Doubt he has the class to harass her. 9th – 16th
# 10 – DASHING WILLOUGHBY (Can he win – NO)
This guy has to be trusted very much after a nefarious run in the Caulfield Cup when he turned into a bump in speed that weakened terribly to run a distant last. Can do better, but way too many questions to answer. 15th – last.
No.11 – FINCHE (Can he win – NO)
Always close, but only one win in 10 Australian starts, despite finishing 4th and 7th in the last two Melbourne Cups. Well drawn and brings James McDonald on board so that some important criteria are met. 3rd-10th
No.12 – PRINCE OF ARRAN (Can he win – NO)
Grows an extra leg when he lands in Australia and did it again when he finished third in the Caulfield Cup. Hard as old boots and the last two trophies deserves such enormous respect, but can he finally win it? I say no, but no doubt about the money. 3rd – 9th ..
No.13 – SURPRISE BABY (Can he win – NO)
Great run in last year’s Cup when he stormed home and finished fifth less than a length from the winner. Two runs since 1600 m and 2000 m leave just a few too many questions unanswered. 3rd – 9th ..
No.14 – KING OF LEOGRANCE (Can he win – NO)
Impressive when he won the Adelaide Cup in March and has played a fair amount since then, but that’s a few lengths more difficult than anything he’s come across before. 12th – 18th
No.15 – RUSSIAN CAMELOT (Can he win – YES)
Was a Melbourne Cup favorite for a long time until his last two failures, if you could call them that. He is a noble animal and races like a real stalker. He is also in the right stable and is classified as a serious opportunity. 1st – 5th ..
Russian Camelot brings out Arcadia Queen’s Underwood Stakes. Photos: Race photos via Getty Images
No.16 – STEEL PRINCE (Can he win – NO)
Hard and honest, but only one step below the top. Even so, he was only two lengths away from the winner last year but needs a lot of luck with the wide goal. 8th – 13th ..
No.17 – THE SELECTED (Can he win – NO)
He belongs to a group that lacks the top rung, but he’s honest and finished second in the Sydney Cup and a good third in the Caulfield Cup, but queries him on a tough 3200m, despite being trained by a Master Kiwi. 8th – 15th
# 18 – ASHRUN (Can he win – NO)
He’s one of the tough second class gallops for me who did well in the Geelong Cup and secured last place in the race with a mustache last Saturday. Dropping 8 kg here, but also getting the outside goal. 7th – 14th ..
No 19 – WARNING (Can he win – NO)
He liked his flashy run in the Turnbull Stakes but was normal in the Caulfield Cup. The only big plus for this guy is that he loves Flemington where he dated the Victoria Derby last year. Roughie who could add great value. 3rd – 10th ..
# 20 – ETAH JAMES (Can Win – NO)
One for the thrill seekers when you feel like supporting this mare. In form she is well below the top tier despite winning the Sydney Cup. She runs 3200m, but not fast enough against it. 15th – last
No.21 – TIGER MOTH (Can he win – YES)
Least experienced horse to race but obviously there is an X-factor about him what he did in Ireland. Far drawn, but fits the profile of the other youngest winners and has three-time Melbourne Cup winner Kerrin McEvoy on board. 1st – 5th ..
Can Tiger Moth face the occasion? Photo: Pat Scala / Race Photos via Getty Images
No.22 – OCEANEX (can win – NO)
The Moonee Valley Cup has improved a lot and she can stay. She also won three out of five at Flemington, but not against the caliber of horse meat she hits here. 14th – last
# 23 – MIAMI BOUND (Can she win – NO)
Showed a return to her best storm home to win the Moonee Valley Cup on her favorite wet ground. She teamed up with the PRC Oaks in Flemington last year and the further they go the more she likes it, but she would need anything to fit and if so she might surprise. 3rd-14th
No.24 – PERSAN (can he win – NO)
Notable history from Wangaratta’s first loss to entering the Melbourne Cup in one preparation, including six wins. Still, that one bridge looks too far, but he’s terribly honest. 10th – 16th
WHO WILL WIN THE MELBOURNE CUP 2020?
21 – TIGER MOTH
5 – Sir Dragonet
15 – Russian Camelot
1 – Anthony Van Dyck
6 – Twilight payment
With the guarantee of a huge pool, I play the trifectas.
Boxed Trifecta – 1,5,6,15,21 = 60 The combination
Outstanding Trifecta – 1,5,6,15,21 / 1,5,6,15,21 / 1,5,6,7,11,12,13,15,19,21,23 = 180 combinations
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