Melbourne Cup 2016 – The best of the European runners
One of the most prestigious races of the Australian horse racing calendar, the Melbourne Cup takes place on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne, Victoria.
With a scheduled off-time of 3pm, the top-class contest is one of the world’s richest races to be held on turf, and the richest long-distance handicap contest to be found anywhere globally. As such, it is a race that can stop not only a nation, but also attracts a global audience as some of the best long-distance horses from around the world descend on the Australian racetrack to compete.
A maximum field of twenty-four runners will face the starter for the latest renewal of this classy contest, including current race-favourite, Hartnell and also Prince of Penzance who registered a shock success in the contest in 2015; while a strong European entry can also be expected to line up for the classy two-mile contest.
Aidan O’Brien be represented in the contest by his Bondi Beach who returns for another crack at this race having finished down the field in the 2015 renewal.
The Galileo colt had previously shown excellent form, beating the top-class Order Of St George in the Curragh Cup prior to posting unlucky defeats in both the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, and in the St Leger at Doncaster.
Having failed to fire in this race twelve months ago, he bounced back from a break to register wins at Limerick and Navan, and he has been running well in defeat over a trip arguably short of his best the last twice when finishing third at Leopardstown in both the Ballyroan Stakes and the Enterprise Stakes.
He was beaten six lengths in this race twelve months ago where he possibly failed to see out this trip though, having been forced wide entering the straight. He can give a good account, but stamina for this trip looks suspect based on that run, and Aidan O’Brien keeping him to shorter trips this term in his runs to date.
Willie Mullins meanwhile could send the tough Wicklow Brave across for the contest, having won the Irish St Leger from Order Of St George under an enterprising ride where he made most of the running before digging deep to hold off the Ballydoyle runner.
The Beat Hollow gelding has been a high-class hurdler as well as a smart performer on the level, and his form with Quest For More, who finished ninth in the 2015 renewal, gives him solid claims of taking the prize back to Ireland.
However, BIG ORANGE looks to have the measure of the Mullins runner and Michael Bell’s globe-trotting star could land another big prize having finished fifth in this race twelve months ago. A dual Group-Two winner last term, scoring at Newmarket and Goodwood prior to a disappointing run in the Lonsdale Cup, Michael Bell’s charge ran a blinder to finish fifth behind Prince of Penzance where he made most of the running and battled on strongly in the closing stages to go down all guns blazing.
The tough Duke Of Marmalade gelding then headed to Dubai and the Gold Cup at Meydan where only Vazirabad was too strong for him, beating him by a half-length.
Looking in need of the run behind Exospheric at Newmarket on his return, he has won both starts since in the Falmouth at Newmarket, and in defence of his Goodwood Cup where he had the likes of Pallasator, Sheikzayedroad, Wicklow Brave and Quest For More all behind.
That form has been franked several times over, and it isn’t hard to envisage him being in the mix once again from only 1lb higher than he raced from twelve months previously.
Tony Martin could also have a runner with his Heartbreak City likely to take his chance following a win at York when impressively landing the Ebor Handicap, beating Shrewd by four lengths.
The Lando gelding was registering a hat-trick of successes having also scored back-to-back wins over hurdles earlier in the summer, and still unexposed as a stayer on the flat he can’t be underestimated if lining up.
Godolphin could have multiple runners in the race, headed by the classy duo of Scottish from the Charlie Appleby yard; and Beautiful Romance from the Saeed bin Suroor camp.
Scottish has been in great heart throughout this term, winning twice with successes in a Listed contest at Newbury, and adding to his tally at York when beating Yorker to land the Strensall Stakes either side of a good third to Royal Artillery in the Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock.
Charlie Appleby’s Teofilo gelding won a shade cosily last time out, taking up the running two furlongs out and keeping on well to the line; however, he has yet to race over a trip anywhere near as far as this distance, having yet to go beyond twelve furlongs in his career.
Beaten on all three starts at that distance, he hasn’t looked to be crying out for a stiffer test, while on breeding he isn’t sure to appreciate such a searching examination of his stamina, so his ability to see out this longer trip very much has to be taken on trust.
Beautiful Romance hasn’t quite gone on since posting a win over Koora at York back in May when landing the Group Two Middleton Stakes over an extended ten furlongs. Fifth to Dartmouth at Ascot in the Hardwicke, the New Approach filly failed to beat a rival home behind Minding in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood in July; and she ran a shade below her best back from a short break behind Journey at Newmarket last time.
Having locked horns in the past with the likes of Treve and Simple Verse, it is still a relatively lightly-raced and unexposed sort, and it is possible she may have more to offer, and she could improve for this marked step up in trip.
She is an interesting contender for the race where Saeed bin Suroor could also be represented by recent Doonside Cup winner Secret Number who went close in the Queen’s Cup here last November, beaten just under two lengths behind Dandino.
The Raven’s Pass gelding has shown following an absence that he is as good as ever, and the 2013 Cumberland Lodge winner has been lightly raced since that success. Sixth to Leading Light in the 2013 St Leger, he is another who is worth keeping an eye on and he could go well at a big price.