ThoroughBred Racing

Expert monster Cup preview

Expert monster Cup preview

Dan O’Sullivan’s Melbourne Cup preview is powered by TAB.

My key principles and approach to the Melbourne Cup:

WFA Performance Ratings

My first step is to refine the field by looking for horses that meet some key benchmarks on my WFA Performance Ratings, adjusted for the weights to be carried. There is a substantial weighting towards recent form & ratings, which has proven a key factor for Melbourne Cup success. Sometimes that involves deciding to rule some horses out as leading contenders that you could make a case for winning. Still, history shows that if their recent ratings don’t measure up, they can win occasionally, but the percentages are against them, especially from a betting perspective. It also results in some long shots making the cut that are easy to question, but history shows they can run well. Based on this year’s field, I’m looking for proven ability to run a rating of at least 105 and recent form above or very close to that mark.

 

The potential for a new peak

After establishing rating credentials, I am looking for each horse’s potential to run a new peak on the day over 3200m. The Melbourne Cup is invariably won by a horse that can produce a new personal best on the day.

 

Ignore secondary factors that create white noise

History has taught me to ignore secondary factors like horse age and barriers and not to emphasise previous form at 3000m+ too much.

In the past ten years, we’ve seen five winners aged six years or older run new peaks to win The Melbourne Cup. Four of the last six winners have drawn barriers 18, 21, 19 and 17. History back to 2006 shows that if you backed all horses from barrier 17 and wider (the outside 33% of a 24-horse field), you would be well front betting, even more so if you excluded horses longer than $21 in the market.

Seven of the 16 Melbourne Cup winners since 2005 had never raced beyond 2400m to 2500m previously. Nine of the 16 had never won beyond 2400m to 2500m before The Melbourne Cup.

This year’s race could be run on a Heavy track or very soft at best. Wet track form is an important consideration, but I’m also mindful not to anchor my assessment to that one factor too much. The market typically offers price compensation for uncertainty in that area and sometimes adjusts too much. We regularly see horses win on wet ground when their previous form raises a query.

 

With the above principles in mind, below is my assessment and comments for every runner in the 2022 Melbourne Cup.

#1 Gold Trip – Assessed $31 – Rank #11 – TAB market

He’s run 103.4 in the Cox Plate and 104.1 in the Caulfield Cup at his last two. He’s not far off the 105+ standard, and he did rate 107.6 in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) on heavy ground. That was two years ago though, and it must be wearing thin as a reference now. Others were stronger at the end of a Caulfield Cup run at a steady speed, which makes me doubt if he can elevate to the required level over 3200m. Given he’s recent ratings are also not up to the standard, I have to be against him at $11 in the market.

#2 Duais – Assessed $26 – Rank #9 – TAB market

She doesn’t seem to be going as well this preparation as in the past, but I’m also mindful that Edward Cummings has had one target in mind for all Spring, and it’s this race. Her best ratings in the Autumn of 107 and 105.6 put her right in the mix, however a best of 100.6 this preparation in the Caulfield Cup is well short of the 105+ standard. I’m striking a balance between respecting her class and potential to improve, but ruling her out as a main contender due to the lack of recent ratings.

#3 Knights Order – Assessed $23 – Rank #7 – TAB market

He ran 102.9 in the Caulfield Cup, and how he stuck on late, making ground again through the line, left me with the thought that perhaps Tim Clark went too slow on him to optimise his performance. He’s a horse that has proven to be at his best over 3200m in the past, including on Heavy ground. In the Autumn, he came off a 103 rating over 2600m to run 105.8 winning The Sydney Cup over 3200m on Heavy 10 ground. The similarities to his set-up for this race compared to Autumn make it reasonable to think he can improve and run 105+. He will need luck from the widest draw to get across with little work, but that’s not a reason to rule him out. I’m not sure he can run the big new peak that may be needed to win, but he’s somewhere in the mix of chances and can run very well.

#4 Montefilia – Assessed $23 – Rank #7 – TAB market

She was poorly suited by the lack of speed in Caulfield Cup and was powerful late, spotted still making excellent ground through the line. She ran 102.7 there but deserved extra credit for finishing full of running. She has a 107 peak over 2000m in the Autumn on Heavy ground, and although that is well short of 3200m, it suggests a class factor up to this race. Her best at 2400m is 103.6, and that’s where I can credit her last run, in the 103.5 to 104 range. She’s a fringe contender that I wouldn’t be surprised to see win, but at $11 in the market, I can quickly look past her as a betting prospect.

#5 Numerian – Assessed $301 – Rank #23 – TAB market

Ran 102.6 in the Caulfield Cup and looked to have had enough late. I can’t see him elevating to a big new peak over 3200m.

#6 Without A Fight – Assessed $9.0 – Rank #3 – TAB market

An international runner that has steadily improved throughout his career aimed towards The Melbourne Cup for some time. His last start 102.2 rating over 2414m looked like a tune-up for this, so I’m not reading too much into it. I particularly like his two previous wins over 2816m at York as a Melbourne Cup reference, where he ran a rating of 105.2 in both. I like how he surged away from the small field in the Group 3 Silver Cup Stakes two runs ago and was still strong through the line. We know that internationals deserve respect when they come for the Melbourne Cup, and he arrives with an upward trajectory to his ratings and two of his last three at the 105+ standard. He’s one horse that looks capable of running a new peak in this race, which is an essential ingredient to winning.

 

#7 Camorra – Assessed $51 – Rank #15 – TAB market

An international runner with Ben & JD Hayes. A 104.6 two starts ago at The Curragh over 2816m in June gave him some potential for this race, but he was beaten 20.6 lengths at his last start and that has been a theme throughout his career. His three runs prior to that 104.6 peak saw him beaten 7.5, 10 and 15.8 lengths.

#8 Deauville Legend – Assessed $4.40 – Rank #1 – TAB market

He presents here with the perfect profile for a Melbourne Cup winner. He’s a lightly raced northern hemisphere three-year-old on a big upwards trajectory of improvement in his ratings. Since turning three years old, he’s run ratings of 95.4, 98.4, 101.4, 104.4 and 106.4 at his last start, winning the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes. He put 4.3 lengths on El Bodegon last start, and we saw that horse come here and be very competitive in the Group 1 Cox Plate last Saturday. Deauville Legend brings the best rating profile to the race, has a genuine turn of foot, gets the services of three-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy and looks to have more potential than any other runner to produce a new peak on the day. The fact that he’s never raced on wet ground before and could face a Heavy track on Tuesday is a risk factor, but he’s still clearly on top. From a betting perspective, the current market price under $4.00 doesn’t represent any value, but he’s impossible to knock. It would be no surprise to see him win comfortably.

#9 Stockman – Assessed $19 – Rank #4 – TAB market

He ran on Saturday in the Rosehill Gold Cup over 2000m as a final preparation for this, running a rating of 101.2. Most importantly, he made ground from the back and was strong through the line. The key reference for him is two starts ago over 2600m, where he ran a 106 rating on Soft 7 ground, winning impressively at Randwick. That sees him pass a key rating benchmark for this race, so I have to include him among the group with the right historical profile for this race, despite his big odds. He also loves wet ground and should end up with an economical run in the race. The 3-day backup from Saturday could prove an X factor that gives him some potential to run a new peak here. He’s one of the best longshots in the race for me.

#10 Vow And Declare – Assessed $67 – Rank #17 – TAB market

He is going well this preparation and his 101.9 rating in the Caulfield Cup had some extra merit after covering extra ground in the run. However, in the past two year’s he’s yet to get close to running the 105+ that is needed to be a contender for this race. For that reason I have to market him a genuine longshot.

#11 Young Werther – Assessed $21 – Rank #5 – TAB market

He’s a horse that doesn’t jump off the form page as a possible Melbourne Cup winner, but a 3.9L defeat behind Anamoe in the Cox Plate at weight-for-age gives him a 105.9 rating when adjusted to his 54kg in this race. That comfortably meets the key rating benchmark of 105+ and its not the first time he’s done that. He ran 106.5 in last year’s Turnbull Stakes and 105.8 in the ATC Derby as a three-year-old. He might be easy to look over because of a lack of longer distance form, especially in the past 12 months, but history has proven that is not a key factor for finding Melbourne Cup winners. He will need a good ride from the draw and may not have the same potential as some others to run a new peak, but his rating profile fits, The Cox Plate has a great record at producing horses to run very well in this race and he handles wet ground. He has genuine longshot claims at very big odds.

#12 Hoo Ya Mal – Assessed $41 – Rank #14 – TAB market

An international runner now with the Waterhouse & Bott stable. He ran a 104.6 rating back in June, but has regressed since then with ratings of 103.6, 102.6 and 93.6 at his most recent start. That’s not the profile I’m looking for in a Melbourne Cup contender.

#13 Serpentine – Assessed $251 – Rank #22 – TAB market

He was brave on Saturday setting a good speed in the Archer Stakes and battling on particularly well, but only ran a 99.8 rating. This looks beyond him.

#14 Daqiansweet Junior – Assessed $151 – Rank #21 – TAB market

His 99.6 last start behind Lunar Flare had extra merit after covering ground without cover, but his best is only a 101.7 when beaten 4.5 lengths behind Knights Order in the Sydney Cup during the Autumn. He obviously handles 3200m and Heavy ground, but I haven’t seen anything from him to suggest he can run 105+.

#15 Grand Promenade – Assessed $101 – Rank #19 – TAB market

This time last year he went into the Melbourne Cup off a 104.7 rating and that saw him start a $15 chance. He had a tough run and was beaten 12.6 lengths. He hasn’t looked the same horse in 2022, with a rating of 100.6 two starts ago his best.

#16 Arapaho – Assessed $51 – Rank #15 – TAB market

He loves it wet and ran 104.6 behind Stockman last start over 2600m. That’s not far off being competitive in this race, but he’s been up since the Autumn with a break and I doubt his potential to suddenly produced a big new peak over 3200m. He may be able to produce a similar rating, which could see him run in the top 6, but he looks just as likely to regress at 3200m.

#17 Emissary – Assessed $21 – Rank #5 – TAB market

His Geelong Cup win with 56kg adjusted to 51.5kg here sees him bring a rating of 105.4, which meets the 105+ standard. There’s nothing much to like about his prior form from a Melbourne Cup perspective, but the way he chased so strongly at Geelong with fast sectionals, including the best rating L200m of the meeting (against track & distance standards) looks like a run that puts him in the mix with no weight on his back. It leaves open the potential that on face value he could run a new peak over 3200m. The query I have around him though is a Heavy track. The Geelong Cup was held on Good 4 ground and his two prior peak ratings of 103.8 and 103.4 were also on Good 4 ground. He has one 99.7 rating on Heavy 8 ground three starts ago behind Smokin Romans and one poor Heavy track run prior to that. That’s not enough to condemn him as horses can surprise as mentioned in my introduction, but it does create betting uncertainty.

#18 Lunar Flare – Assessed $34 – Rank #12 – TAB market

She’s run 102.1 and 102.3 in her last two runs, which is well short of the 105+ standard needed. A peak rating of 104.6 when winning last year’s Mooney Valley Gold Cup prevents me from marker her too long and I think she has at least some prospect to run a new peak in this race.

#19 Smokin Romans – Assessed $26 – Rank #9 – TAB market

His 105.9 two starts ago in The Turnbull Stakes saw him start a rightful Caulfield Cup favourite. While he didn’t have the best of luck there, I still felt he had a chance to produce better than we saw. I respect that prior to last start he was absolutely flying and that 105.9 rating is a good reference, but off what we saw in the Caulfield Cup, I can mark him no better than a fringe contender.

#20 Tralee Rose – Assessed $81 – Rank #18 – TAB market

She has some very impressive spike ratings in her career of 108.3 and 107.8 (early 2021) and 106.8 when she won the 2021 Geelong Cup. After failing in last years Melbourne Cup though her three runs this Spring off a long spell suggest she’s not the same horse. Her best was a 98.3 in the Caulfield Cup last start.

#21 Point Nepean – Assessed $501 – Rank #24

#22 High Emocean – Assessed $101 – Rank #19 – TAB market

He ran 102 to win the Bendigo Cup and has ratings of 101 and 101.5 in his two previous runs. That’s well short of what’s required and I don’t see any great potential to suddenly improve.

#23 Interpretation – Assessed $34 – Rank #12 – TAB market

Three runs this Spring with ratings of 100.1, 102.5 and 100.2 have been underwhelming relative to expectations. That rules him out as a contender for me, but he’s only had three runs this preparation and does have ratings of 105.6 over 3000m and the same over 2816m in his overseas form. With only 10 starts under his belt and under the care of Maher & Eustace, I can’t totally rule out that he could show sudden improvement.

#24 Realm Of Flowers – Assessed $7.0 – Rank #2 – TAB market

I like her profile for this race. Last start she ran a 103.5 rating when beaten just 0.2 lengths in the Group 1 Metropolitan in Sydney, and most importantly she was hitting the line strongly. That’s not quite up to the 105+ standard, but she’s a mare that has proven in the past she relishes the longer staying trip and can produce a performance good enough to win this race. The first time she ran at 3200m in her career was the 2020 Sandown Cup where she was narrowly beaten, but ran a big peak rating at the time of 106. In May 2021 she ran 104.9 over 2400m and was then very unlucky when beaten 3.8 lengths in the Sydney Cup over 3200m with a 104.3 rating. She should have just about won that race, which would have given her a rating in the 109 to 110 range, depending on how close you mark her to the winner. She validated that opinion when she went to the Andrew Ramsden over 2800m at her next start on Soft 7 ground, winning by 4.8 lengths with a 110 rating. Injury ruled her out of the 2021 Melbourne Cup and she has been aimed at this year’s race ever since. That last run of 103.5 over 2400m is not far off the 105+ standard for this and she has such a strong history of improving when she gets over further. That history shows her capable of running in the 106 to 110 range and everything seems to point to her being ideally set up to produce that type of performance in this race. She’s a great winning chance.

 

My main betting interest in the 2022 Melbourne Cup based on current market prices revolves around three horses:

Realm Of Flowers

Stockman

Young Werther

Flemington
1 Nov 2022
Soft 6Rail Out 2m Entire Circuit