The race that stops the nation has developed into a race that stops the world. Trainers and owners from across the globe harbour hopes of one day holding the three handled gold cup in their hands.
Tiger Moth and Anthony Van Dyck will battle for favouritism and lead the hopes of the European raiders, while the local hopes fall on the young shoulders of Russian Camelot and to a lesser extent Verry Elleegant.
Here is our preview of every runner in the Cup.
1- ANTHONY VAN DYCK- Was immense in Caulfield Cup when drawing the widest gate there, had to get a long way back and came storming home. Was beaten by Verry Elleegant that day but she had the better run. Will be fitter for that run and form from Europe is very hard to look past. Leading contender and should stay the trip no worries.
2- AVILIUS- The old boy has losses a bit of his spark but none of his heart, assume it’s too much to ask that he go on and win this but his run in the Caulfield Cup suggested he’s not done with yet. Conditions suited better that day then they will here on Tuesday. Has been good this campaign though may find this too much. Exotics?
3- VOW AND DECLARE- Last year’s winner comes here with more weight then last year, hasn’t been racing as well as he was then and will need sharp improvement to figure here. Will likely go forward as he did last year which gives him his best chance.
4- MASTER OF REALITY- Finished fourth in this last year, headed back home after that. Resuming here, hasn’t run since September. Form before that was good at home but meets a few who are much fitter here. Would need something special but he’s from a smart stable.
5- SIR DRAGONET- A huge win in the Cox Plate, was resuming there and was outstanding. Will benefit from the run there as well, hasn’t missed the quinella second-up which is a plus. Looked like the 3200m wouldn’t be an issue, but all wins have been on soft ground. One run on a good track was for second.
6- TWILIGHT PAYMENT- Another one Joseph O’Brien is bringing over after a let-up, hasn’t raced since September 13 but was running well before that. Has run the trip four times for a win, second and third. Stats make for good reading but again worry about fitness edge for others.
7- VERRY ELLEEGANT- She has become an absolute star, always had the potential but her racing manners have improved and she is now a genuine star. Her win in the Caulfield Cup was huge, she was challenged by Anthony Van Dyck and showed grit to kick clear. Lead-up run in Turnbull had her beating a lot of these as she showed her class, 3200m a query but I think she handles it
8- MUSTAJEER- Hard to make a case here, hasn’t been showing much this spring but rates well enough for a spot. Hasn’t won on good ground and has been a mile off it. Prefer to watch.
9- STRATUM ALBION- Has relished the trip in the past, a win and two seconds from 6 attempts. Is resuming here from a lay-off which isn’t ideal but hard to debate the stables plans. No doubting the staying ability either.
10- DASHING WILLOUGHBY- No good Caulfield Cup day, led them out and was dropped back to last before the turn. No excuse given for that run so there’s little reason to look twice here.
11- FINCHE- A tough and honest runner, gets on-speed and gives his all every time. Would like to see him salute a tad more often but he’s lovely athlete. Has been in good order this campaign and built to this nicely, was wide most of the way in Caulfield Cup and stuck on well. Ran well here in the Turnbull and ran a good Melbourne Cup last year. Genuine chance.
12- PRINCE OF ARRAN- He’s a marvel this boy, gives his all every time he comes down under and loves this race. Has run a place two years straight and was immense when passing all but two in the Caulfield Cup from the tail. Jamie Kah booking looks a good move for him now. Inside draw not ideal but he is a warrior.
13- SURPRISE BABY- Was the run of the race last year, had no right to get as close as he did and since then this has been the target. Has only raced twice since then, first-up he ran second at MV, then was decent in the Turnbull but maybe got too far back, has been freshened for this, racing pattern not ideal but he will be steaming home at the clock tower that’s for sure.
14- KING OF LEOGRANCE- A classy galloper who may find this a step too high, a dominating win in the Adelaide Cup before hitting the paddock. First-up run was here in the Turnbull and he wasn’t superb there but not disgraced. Geelong Cup run was pretty impressive after that which may give some hope. But these may be too strong.
15- RUSSIAN CAMELOT- He has been superb this campaign, his Cox Plate run was huge. Has been harshly judged by some losses in big Group 1’s but hasn’t been disgraced in any of those runs. Underwood win was eye-catching. Only need to look back at that and his second in the Maybe Diva for a reason to be with the 3 year-old star. Will likely go forward here. Could be anything, 3200m should be no worries.
16- STEEL PRINCE- Has returned in excellent fashion this campaign, connections have been very keen to get him into this and they got their wish with a strong win in the Geelong Cup which has been a good lead-up in the past. He had a nightmare preparation last season but comes here much more settled and well prepared. Draw not great but one to watch.
17- THE CHOSEN ONE- Ran the race of his life for third in the Caulfield Cup, that was an awesome effort but he will need to repeat that to be any chance in this. I think his run before the Caulfield Cup is more like the real him but who knows?
18- ASHRUN- Has had a nightmare with drawing the widest ally, however light weight should help with that challenge. Stable are keen on his chances after trainer endured two weeks quarantine to watch him when the Lexus on Derby Day. The quick back-up a huge question as well, was his win on Saturday convincing enough?
19- WARNING- Was the run of the race in the Turnbull for mine, he flashed home from deep and hit the line terrifically. Then had little to no luck in the Caulfield Cup and had to switch to the inside for a run which wasn’t the place to be. Had a vet check last week but passed, would likely need it to be wetter then we are expecting but maybe one to watch at value.
20- ETAH JAMES- Has risen in grade here and would need sharp improvement to figure, run behind Miami Bound latest was not too bad but suspect he won’t be flipping the tables here.
21- TIGER MOTH- Was favourite before the barrier draw, second widest ally obviously not great but a light weight may ease some of those fears. Has only had four starts which seems unbelievable, won Ire – Leopardstown with a convincing display. 3200m should be no issue and seems to be super-talented. Question on race experience stable are positive on his chances.
22- OCEANEX- Won her way into this back in the Autumn, has since been spelled and then brought back in a long build for this. Has built pretty nicely for this improving with every run. Was pretty good last start at MV but suspect this is just above her level. Prepared well though
23- MIAMI BOUND- She was back to her best at Mooney Valley last start, needed to be as she seemed a shell of the Oaks winner we saw last year. Has had an impeded campaign but two runs before latest seemed to put a line through her. But she showed her class last time out and you just never know. Would prefer it wet.
24- PERSAN- Has seemingly been up forever, has only had a 35 day freshen up after resuming in April. Hasn’t missed a placing since returning early in the year and has won some good races, will find this much harder but is flying. Now 29 days between runs and did win after that 35 day spell.