Sport

Locals and imports in the mix but My Quest for Peace the pick

THERE is a great deal of history and data to look at when coming up with your Melbourne Cup pick.

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An emerging trend is the Cup winner not coming from horses who raced on Derby Day.

There were only three in the Cup who raced on Saturday in Zabeelionaire and Winchester, who finished fifth and sixth respectively in the Mackinnon Stakes, and Kelinni who won the Lexus Stakes to gain a start in the Melbourne Cup.

This is a far different situation to years gone by when the bulk of the runners and the eventual winner of the Cup came after a good run on Derby Day.

This trend is a by-product of the number of foreign horses in the past decade chasing the $6m prize money on offer.

In that time, only two Cup winners in Viewed (2008) and Shocking (2009) have raced on Derby Day.

These two combined with Efficient (2007) to give three consecutive years of Australian winners - something we may wait long to see again.

 

Ipswich Turf Club boss Brett Kitching.
Ipswich Turf Club boss Brett Kitching.

Noticeably all three had low weights, were competitive in derbies as three-year-olds, had strong lead-up form, and raced at their best as four and five-year- olds - the first indicator of what you generally need from an Australian winner of the Melbourne Cup.

Three of the wins in the past decade came from superstar mare Makybe Diva who was bred in the northern hemisphere and who re-wrote the record books with her wins.

The remaining four winners were northern hemisphere runners who had one run in Australia prior to winning the Melbourne Cup.

These were Irish galloper Media Puzzle (2002), the French pair Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011), who all won the Geelong Cup prior to their Melbourne Cup win, along with Japanese winner Delta Blues (2006) who placed third in the Caulfield Cup prior to winning the Melbourne Cup.

So an international racing well in Australia prior to the Cup is the second indicator.

WHILE foreign winners of the last decade have all had proven form in Australia prior to the Cup, there have been two beaten by a nose in recent years without a prior Australian start - Bauer in 2008 and Red Cadeaux in 2011 - showing that an international can be competitive without having raced in Australia.

The third indicator is the favoured track conditions, which is important and only the great Makybe Diva who preferred rain- affected conditions has been able to win with more than 56kg in the past decade.

This weight level is the fourth indicator of what it generally takes to win a Melbourne Cup and Dunaden would have to re-write the record books to win with 59kg.

Another statistic to take into account is the age of a galloper as four, five, and six-year-olds have won the great majority of Melbourne Cups.

History has proven that a seven-year-old (such as Dunaden, Red Cadeaux, and seven other runners this year) wins one in 15 Cups with the freak galloper Makybe Diva being the only one in the last decade to win.

Worse news still for Americain and three others is that an eight-year-old has only won two Cups ever and not for more than 70 years. The jockey is important and each of the Australian jockeys to have won a Melbourne Cup in the past decade (Damien Oliver, Glen Boss, Michael Rodd, Blake Shinn, and Corey Brown) has a ride in the 2012 version.

The final statistic to look at is the barrier draw and while inside barriers are favoured to a degree, history has proven that the winner can come from any barrier over the gruelling 3200 metres on the spacious Flemington track.

THESE statistics narrow down the field to a number of gallopers ticking most of the boxes.

Of the northern hemisphere gallopers, only the Luca Cumani-trained My Quest for Peace is younger than seven, has raced well in Australia prior to the Cup, has only 53.5 kilograms in weight, has a former Melbourne Cup winning jockey in Corey Brown, prefers the forecast good track conditions, has drawn barrier 1, and is at the juicy odds of $26.

Of the International brigade unraced in Australia, Luca Cumani appears the best chance with six-year-old Mount Athos who is reportedly flying and comes off great form in England.

Despite age, weight and wide barrier draws, Americain, Dunaden, and Red Cadeaux cannot be ruled out.

From an Australian point of view, four-year-olds Ethiopia and Zabeelionaire have prior derby form, handy weights and strong lead-up form, though both are drawn wide.

Maluckyday, who placed second in the Cup in 2010, is a six-year-old now and has not managed to reproduce form since, though would be in the finish if he did.

Kelinni won strongly on Saturday, has a light weight and Glen Boss riding.

In summary, stats and figures narrow down the field to My Quest for Peace, Mount Athos and Red Cadeaux from the overseas contingent and Ethiopia, Zabeelionaire, and Kelinni as the best of the Aussie hopes.

For the record - the enticing $26 for My Quest for Peace makes him my pick in a wide open race.

 

Topics:  horse racing, melbourne cup, opinion



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