The biggest race of the year is just around the corner this Tuesday and the final field has been confirmed.
We have a runner-by-runner guide for the 2018 Melbourne Cup this Tuesday, which will stop the nation once again.
24 of the world’s best stayers from Australia, Europe, Japan and New Zealand will compete for the $7 million prize purse at Flemington on November 6 and we have sorted through the form to find our best bets.
Which runner will follow in the footsteps of Rekindling and add its name to the gold trophy? Can the locals stave off the strong international challenge or will the visitors once again take the spoils?
We have our best bet, best each way and best roughie for the Melbourne Cup.
Our Best Bets for the 2018 Melbourne Cup
The Cliffsofmoher @ $16 – BET NOW
Best Each Way Bet:
Best Solution @ $13 – BET NOW
Rostropovich @ $27 – BET NOW
Melbourne Cup 2018 form guide and tips
Best Solution (Best Each Way – $13) – BET NOW
It’s tough to overlook winning form, especially at this level and we feel as though Best Solution isn’t getting the respect he so deserves.
His Caulfield Cup win was run in a slow time but that’s hardly a knock against his ability and having won four consecutive races, the son of Kodiac easily brings in the most impressive form into the Melbourne Cup.
Saeed Bin Suroor lines up the five-year-old which won the Princess of Wales Stakes at Newmarket earlier this year and followed that up with two wins in Germany at Group 1 level. That’s hot form and we’ll happily take the double-figure odds on offer.
The Cliffsofmoher (Best Bet – $16) – BET NOW
Aidan O’Brien is desperate for a win in the Melbourne Cup and he could have his best chance with Cliffsofmoher at a nice price.
The five-year-old finished fourth in the Caulfield Stakes before running third in the Caulfield Cup behind Best Solution. We’re not sure he was fully wound up, however, and the rise in distance should increase his chances, being by Galileo.
Punters will be taking a risk betting on the classy entire but Flemington will allow him to hit top stride in the straight and we’re confident he’s heading in the right direction.
Magic Circle ($9) – BET NOW
Magic Circle is a big danger and should be included in multiples. The Ian Williams-trained seven-year-old doesn’t have the big-name wins next to his name but his recent efforts have been tough to ignore.
The eight-race winner scored by six lengths in the Chester Cup and although that’s only a handicap race, he then destroyed them again by six lengths at Sandown in the Henry II Stakes, beating the likes of Red Verdon.
His owner believes that he’s better than Mount Athos and with a win, will strip down to his G-string and tie. That could be worth seeing alone.
Chestnut Coat ($35) – BET NOW
Japanese stayers should always be respected because they’re tough and bred to stay, but the Asian contingent this season has been poor to say the least.
His effort for 13th in the Caulfield Cup wouldn’t have inspired many and the Caulfield Cup is typically where the Japanese runners show off their skills.
Running fifth in the Tenno Sho (Spring) is a good effort but he has been poor in two runs since and the confidence is low with the chestnut five-year-old.
Muntahaa ($11) – BET NOW
John Gosden is training winners all around the world and he lines up Muntahaa here, which looms as a tough stayer who comes into the Melbourne Cup with a last start win.
That came in the Ebor when he scored a stunning 3.3-length win but we’re not sure if the Ebor is the best form for this style of race. It hasn’t typically proven to be the best form guide in the past and having not run since August, that could be an issue.
He did carry 61kg to victory but his start prior saw him finish 4.7 lengths behind Best Solution and given their respective form, there shouldn’t be $3 separating the two.
Sound Check ($34) – BET NOW
Trainer Michael Moroney claimed that he didn’t know much about Sound Check before its run in the Caulfield Cup and we’re not sure he has him figured out now.
It was a meek effort for 12th behind Best Solution but was making late ground after settling well-backed throughout. That was one positive from the run and his start prior was a close second placing behind Best Solution, but we’re not sure if he can turn the tables even with the 2kg weight difference.
Moroney and the German contingent knows what it takes to win a Melbourne Cup but $34 looks about right.
Who Shot Thebarman ($35) – BET NOW
The 10-year-old winning the Melbourne Cup would be sure to create many headlines and there will be plenty of sentimental money placed on him.
He might be a $35 chance (opened at $51) but he won the 2018 Sydney Cup and was finishing off well behind Ventura Storm in the Moonee Valley Cup last start. We don’t rate the MV Cup as strong form at all, but he’s a dual winner at Flemington and his luck in the Melbourne Cup is due to change.
He needs several things to go his way but we can’t sleep on the Kiwi runner.
Ace High ($81) – BET NOW
We were confident that Ace High would relish the distance at the Caulfield Cup, but that was a poor effort for 15th and we’re not sure where he stands now.
The 2017 VRC Derby winner showed his ability over the mile when running second behind Unforgotten in the Chelmsford Stakes earlier this season before winning the Hill Stakes over 2000m.
That form might be better suited for something easier and his mind might be on something else.
Marmelo ($16) – BET NOW
A popular pick to win the 2017 Melbourne Cup, where he finished ninth, Marmelo is back for redemption and his form leading into this race has been just as good as last year.
Hughie Morrison lines up the six-year-old, which has won twice and finished second twice since that run. His wins include the Grand Cup at York and the Maurice Nieuil Stakes at Longchamp. There are not many negatives around his form and having Hugh Bowman in the saddle again will help.
Is this field stronger than last year? We don’t think so and Marmelo deserves to be respected.
Avilius ($13) – BET NOW
We have never been fans of Sydney form in the Melbourne Cup but Avilius has shown a turn-of-foot when winning and that’s something many of his rivals don’t possess.
Trained by James Cummings, the son of Pivotal was unbeaten in Sydney and came to Melbourne and scored a narrow win over Jaameh in the Bart Cummings. Jaameh has since placed in the Lexus Stakes behind A Prince of Arran and that might be a touch below the best form for this race.
His most recent run was a fourth behind Winx in the Cox Plate and that will be a nice fitness run for this. He has the potential to win a Melbourne Cup but the 3200m might deflat his natural speed and making ground could be hard.
Yucatan ($5.50) – BET NOW
Barrier draws aren’t everything over 3200m but if Yucatan had drawn better, he might have been considered as a top pick for the Melbourne Cup.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained five-year-old has drawn deep in barrier 23, which will make finding a good spot tricky but his win in the Herbert Power was terrific and we’re not surprised to see him start as the favourite, but is he worth the risk?
In our opinion, he’s not worth the risk at his current price. He finished last of six runners in the Coronation Cup and last of 16 runners in the Wolferton Stakes at Ascot. He then ran well to win a $102,000 race at The Curragh before running third in a four-horse field.
His win in Australia was full of style but those that finished behind him don’t shape up well at this level and we would need $8 to back him.
Auvray ($81) – BET NOW
Slightly surprised he was good enough to make the field but a good finish in the Sydney Cup is all that’s needed.
The Richard Freedman-trained stayer is one-paced at best and although he looked OK in the Metropolitan behind Patrick Erin, we’re not sure that form will hold up well here.
Sixth on a heavy track in the St Leger behind Big Blue and it’s hard to derive any betting confidence from that effort. $67 is about where he belongs in the market.
Finche ($27) – BET NOW
Gone are the days where the Geelong Cup was considered a good form guide for the Melbourne Cup and he looked a little flat when running third behind Runaway, but his European form must be respected.
The Chris Waller-trained son of Frankel finished fifth behind Cracksman before running fifth behind Waldgeist, which has since run in the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs.
He’s an interesting runner which could slip under the guard of punters but he’s a top-10 chance based on his international credentials.
Red Cardinal ($41) – BET NOW
Imported runner which now resides with Darren Weir but even the master trainer hasn’t been able to find the magic with the seven-year-old.
We’re going to discount his runs over the shorter distances as they don’t reflect his chances here, but his effort for 11th in the Moonee Valley Cup wasn’t that of a runner good enough to take out the Melbourne Cup.
Punters can always make a case for every runner in this race but we’re struggling to find positives for Red Cardinal.
Vengeur Masque ($67) – BET NOW
He has firmed in from $81 to $67 but his winning record of four wins from 26 starts is a big concern and this would be a massive upset result.
Positives in his favour would be his Flemington track stats of six starts for one win and two placings, coupled with his breeding, which suggests he could handle the two-mile distance.
He ran well enough for ninth in the Caulfield to be looked at here but he appeals as a place chance only. $18 for the place shouldn’t be overlooked.
Ventura Storm ($26) – BET NOW
Bookmakers are refusing to take Ventura Storm and we would only recommend backing him if bookmakers offered at least $41.
He has long been a punters worst nightmare, that was until he won the Moonee Valley Cup last time out. The long overdue win was good to see for connections who have shown patience with the six-year-old, but we don’t believe the form out of that race is going to come close to being good enough.
He’s a plodding type which represents horrible value at $26.
A Prince of Arran ($17) – BET NOW
We expected a big performance from the six-year-old in the Lexus Stakes and that’s exactly what we got. The son of Shirocco gave trainer Charlie Fellowes one of his biggest career wins and he could get the holy grail just three days later.
Winning two races over the staying distances within a three-day period isn’t easy but his form reads well enough to be considered an each way chance.
He doesn’t line up as well as the likes of Magic Circle or Yucatan, with both defeating him this year in the Chester Cup and Herbert Power respectively. He does, however, have winning form coming into the Cup and can’t be ruled out on that basis.
Probably around the sixth or seventh best horse in this race.
Nakeeta ($81) – BET NOW
Give connections credit, they continue to target this race with Nakeeta but he simply doesn’t look good enough and as an eight-year-old, his best performances are clearly behind him.
He finished seventh in the Ebor behind Muntahaa before running seventh in a rating 110 race at Doncaster. His run for 13th at Moonee Valley last start was disastrous and he’s one of those stayers who has qualified for the race based on results from years gone by.
He shouldn’t be in the field.
Sir Charles Road ($91) – BET NOW
The Kiwi is unlikely to figure in the finish and although the New Zealand-trained runners used to be a force in the Melbourne Cup, they’re simply not the same now.
Trained by Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott, the five-year-old finished fourth in the Naturalism behind Night’s Watch before running last in the Coogny at Caulfield. His run for third in the Bendigo Cup was fair but that was won by Red Alto, so that puts it in perspective.
Probably better with some moisture in the surface and whilst there is rain about in Melbourne, he’ll likely need a miracle to win.
Zacada ($126) – BET NOW
Another Kiwi runner which qualified by running second in the Sydney Cup behind Who Shot Thebarman, but we’re not sure how that happened and we’re not sure how he’ll finish in the first half of the field here.
His form since that placing has been dreadful, which included a 15th in the Naturalism and a 12th in the Geelong Cup.
Connections are taking a stab at this race and good on them, but drawing barrier 24 just adds another negative to an already long list.
Runaway ($35) – BET NOW
Led them a merry chase in the Geelong Cup and he should inject some pace into this race, which should make for interesting viewing.
He is a winning chance? Probably not, but if he’s goes slow enough up front, he has shown the ability to kick around the home turn and make it a sprint home.
His best form has come against inferior opposition and we would only be enticed by much longer odds.
Youngstar ($16) – BET NOW
Youngstar is one of the runners in this Melbourne Cup field which is hard to line up. She’s quality at best and her run for second in the Turnbull Stakes and seventh in the Caulfield Cup had some merit, but her winning form is suspect.
All four career wins have come at either Hawkesbury, Doomben or Newcastle. That’s hardly Melbourne Cup form and although she gets in well off on the weights at 51.5kg with Craig Williams in the saddle, we can’t put age-group Australian form ahead of international form.
$15 is too short and she’s a risking betting prospect.
Cross Counter ($9) – BET NOW
The Charlie Appleby-trained stayer has been compared to Rekindling, which took out last year’s Cup and they might have a point.
He gets in with only 51kg on his back and he has been able to avoid any handicapping issues, which is a master stroke from Appleby, who loves winning in Australia.
The four-time winner from seven starts is a British three-year-old (Australian four-year-old), which won the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood before running second behind Old Persian in the Voltigeur Stakes, which is often a good form race.
Should go close and he should attract attention on race day.
Rostropovich (Best Roughie – $27) – BET NOW
Another well-weighted chance at 51kg and he wasn’t too bad when running fifth in the Cox Plate. That race was never going to suit and he’s a dangerous type over this distance.
He finished second in the Irish Derby before running fifth in the King George VI at Ascot behind Poet’s Word and that form stacks up nicely.
The O’Brien-trained runner has since won at Leopardstown and with a lucky trip in transit from barrier 21, he could run into the money.
$27 is worth biting at.
History of the Melbourne Cup
The Melbourne Cup is the biggest and most popular thoroughbred race in Australia and is considered “the race that stops a nation”.
Held on the first Tuesday of November at Flemington, the $6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup is the premier staying race in Australia and features among the highest-ranked races anywhere in the world.
It’s the feature race during the Melbourne spring carnival which includes a four-day Cup week carnival. The Melbourne Cup is held on the second day of the carnival in between Derby day (Saturday) and Oaks day (Thursday).
Held over 3200m (two miles) the Melbourne is truly an international contest, so much so that the majority of entrants in the modern day are either bred in Europe, Japan or New Zealand – as opposed to Australia.
What makes the Melbourne Cup even more grand is the atmosphere at Flemington on race day. There is a thrilling vide between the casual punters, the more serious punters and those on track which have never seen a horse in their life.
The Cup brings them all together to enjoy a great race and it’s easily the most money spent on one race in Australia.
Melbourne Cup betting
Every bookmaker we recommend has betting on the Melbourne Cup.
Markets open for the Melbourne Cup just hours after the running of the previous edition, so there’s no time lost if punters want to get stuck into the action.
Bookmakers provide an all-in market 12 months out from the race, but offer fixed win, fixed place and a range of exotic bets when the field is narrowed down.
Punters often get great value when betting into Melbourne Cup markets because the betting pools are the biggest of the year. The bigger the betting pool the better odds you will get.
Melbourne Cup betting tips
Punters never really know what the Melbourne Cup is going to throw at them, but favourite punters have had good success in recent years.
The favourite in the Melbourne Cup doesn’t often pay odds-on – in fact the favouritism usually fluctuates around the $5-$6 mark which is great value.
Because of the extreme staying distance of the race, punters have found that they can put a line through most of the field that won’t see out the distance, making punting on the Cup more appealing to both recreational and professional punters.
Melbourne Cup field
The Melbourne Cup field consists of 24 horses and no emergencies. If a runner is scratched then there is no replacement runner to make up the field.
The field consists of horses that have qualified with various results. Some runners qualify because of their good race record at the top level (wins, prize money etc) and some have to qualify by winning a qualifying race.
The winner of the following races is exempt from ballot into the Melbourne Cup:
Doncaster Cup (UK)
Irish St. Leger (UK)
Tenno Sho (Japan)
Sankei Sho All Comers (Japan)
Arlington Million (USA)
San Juan Capistrano Handicap (USA)
Australian Stayers Challenge
Melbourne Cup barrier draw
One of the most exciting aspects of Cup week is the Melbourne Cup barrier draw.
The connections test their luck at the conclusion of Derby day to see what barrier their runner will jump from.
The race can be won and lost at the barrier draw so it’s taken very seriously and it concludes at around 5:30pm that night.
Assessing the international horses
One of the hardest things to figure out when betting the Melbourne Cup is the form of the international horses.
The Cup field has seen everything from New Zealand runners, Japan and even European hurdle jumpers, but they’re all in with a chance.
Punters should follow the betting when it comes to assessing the international runners. Do they have previous form in Australia? Will they handle the temperatures on a hot day in Melbourne?
One thing is for sure – the overseas contingent will see out the distance and that’s always a big positive when investing into this race.
Fashions on the field
We might not be able to bet on the fashion, but it’s an integral part of the Melbourne Cup culture.
The best dressed men and ladies compete for big prizes throughout the Cup carnival and it’s always good to attract the young crowd to the race.
Best Melbourne Cup jockeys
The best current jockeys to bet on are Damien Oliver and Kerrin McEvoy.
Oliver won the Melbourne Cup in 1995 aboard Doriemus, which was made famous by the recent passing of his brother.
He also won in 2002 when riding Media Puzzle to victory for European trainer Dermot Weld and again in 2013 when giving Gai Waterhouse her first Cup victory with Fiorente.
Kerrin McEvoy still has a baby face, but he won the Cup back in 2000 when riding New Zealand stayer Brew. The Michael Moroney-trained gelding was the lesser-fancied of his stable runners with Second Coming attracting big interest, but Brew caused the upset.
McEvoy was back at it in 2016 with Almandin. The European import gave owner Lloyd Willians yet another Melbourne Cup win in a tight tussle with the aptly-named Heartbreak City.
Best Melbourne Cup trainers
Robert Hickmott is one of the most successful current trainer in Melbourne Cup history.
The man who doesn’t speak to the media trains for Lloyd Williams and has won two of the last five Melbourne Cup races.
Lee Freedman has won five times – two with Makybe Diva and one with both Doriemus, Subzero and Tawrrific.
Neither trainer has a record like the great Bart Cummings, however, who trained a record of 12 winners, which will most likely never be beaten.
Notable Melbourne Cup records
Makybe Diva is the only horse to have won three Melbourne Cups and she did them consecutively.
The champion mare won in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and is considered one of the greatest champions of the Australian turf.
There have been four thoroughbreds to win the Cup on two occasions. Think Big (1974, 75), Rain Lover (1968, 69), Peter Pan (1932, 34) and Archer (1861, 62).
The quickest race time was recorded by Kingston Rule in 1990 when it ran 3.16.30 and the biggest winning margin was from Archer and Rain Lover which scorched the field by eight lengths.
Four horses have won at triple figure odds, with the most recent coming in 2015 when female jockey Michelle Payne won aboard Prince of Penzance.
The shortest priced winner was Phar Lap which won in 1930 paying $1.73.