Each year Flemington Racecourse plays host to The Melbourne Cup Carnival. The main focus of the Carnival is the $7.3 million Lexus Melbourne Cup which is Australia’s most prestigious competition on the racing calendar, and this year the two-mile contest falls on November 6th.
The race is a quality Group 1 handicap for horses three years and older. It is of prime interest to the best trainers in the world where twenty-four horses will go to post.
The course is now run over two miles. The 1990 winner Kingston Rule is the current record holder with a time of 3.16.3.
The first Melbourne Cup was held in 1861 and holds an important role in horse racing history. With some of the more recent winning names being Prince Of Penzance (2015) who was also the fourth ever horse to win the contest priced at 100-1 and was steered by the first ever lady jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, Australian rider Michelle Payne.
Last year son of Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, Joseph, trained the winner Rekindling who did all the running for owner Llyod Williams making the son of High Chaparral the first three-year-old to win the handicap since Skipton in 1941. The young Irish trainer will not defend the trophy this year as original entry Latrobe will now be redirected to the Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes on the final Saturday of the Spring Carnival on November 10th.
Owner Lloyd Williams has won the handicap on a total of six occasions, in the years 1981, 1985, 2007, 2012, 2016 and his horse also took the title up to as recent as last year. In 2016 Almandin who won the Cup narrowly over Heartbreak City. The businessman is eager to continue his good trend with the race. Williams owns the current favourite amongst entries, the four-year-old son of Galileo, Yucatan.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien he will be the name racing fans will be eager to watch. Set to be ridden by James Mc Donald the pair have been drawn to race from stall twenty-three. This it seems has caused odds to drop slightly for the favourite. In the last decade, only two horses have won the Melbourne Cup with a draw higher than stall 13.
The Ballydoyle based trainer has a strong hand among entries including The Cliffsofmoher and Rostropovich bringing his total of runners to three in the field.
The Cliffsofmoher is set to be partnered by stable jockey Ryan Moore. The four-year old’s form has been consistent all season and on his last outing finished third in the hot Group 1 Stella Artois Caulfield Cup, at Caulfield Racecourse last month. Connections will be hopeful his form can improve from this and he will certainly be one to watch on the betting market. Best Solution returned to the winners’ enclosure in that Group 1 contest and he now goes up against Saeed Bin Suroor-trained four-year-old.
Rostropovich, who finished fifth behind Winx in the Cox Plate on his latest start, has been drawn in stall 21, while The Cliffsofmoher has been given stall nine.
Godolphin-owned Best Solution is set to be ridden by Pat Cosgrave and is certainly an entry not to be overlooked. With a strong performance at Caulfield last month to win the Group 1 Stella Artois Caulfield Cup coupled an extremely impressive form in the latter part of the season, 1111, he will be one punters should keep a close eye on.
Ian William’s trained Magic Circle is an important name not to be forgotten and has been most backed by ante-post punters. The connections of the promising six-year-old have secured two-time Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Corey Brown for the ride in the race. The champion jockey will be aiming for a third victory in ‘the race that stops the nation’ following wins with Shocking in 2009 and last year’s triumph on board the O’Brien-trained Rekindling.
Charlie Fellowes saddled the first Group winner of his short career with A Prince Of Arran who did all the running to win the Group 3 handicap, the Lexus Stakes at Flemington Racecourse on November 3rd to land his confirmation place among the field in the Melbourne Cup.
The margin of half a length did not do justice to the ease with which he won and there was more good news for Fellowes shortly afterwards when Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter, in what is always the speediest assessment of his year, decided not to penalise the five-year-old for the race that stops a nation. It means he will line up in the 24-runner Group 1 handicap with 53kg (8st5lbs).
A race that is known as one to ‘stop a nation’ it will certainly be for thrilling viewing for racing fans alike.
Selection: A Prince Of Arran