Traditionally, horses preparing for the Melbourne Cup would start their preparation in the first week of June. You have to wonder about the relevance of the traditional cup preparation given the strong likelihood that this year’s winner has already had a race start in the UK or Europe or at least will in the next few weeks.
Last year’s winner and runner up, Dunaden and Red Cadeaux have both opened their campaigns with solid runs. I would expect Dunaden to have a weight this year approaching the 58kg that Americain had last year although Americain’s win was more dominant than Dunaden’s. Still it will probably be the sort of weight that will mean that even the slightest hiccup in the race will cost him victory.
Red Cadeaux will be interesting. He has to get more weight than he had last year but presumably not as much more as Dunaden even though the margin between them was barely a lip. On weights and measures he won’t need much of a swing to finish ahead of Dunaden this time. The trouble with him is that horses having their second and subsequent attempt at the cup have a terrible record when they don’t win at their first attempt but that may be changing with the influx of foreigners.
There are a handful of European horses that ran last year that are now trained in Australia. Leading the pack is Manighar who seems to have found about ten lengths under Peter Moody’s guidance. He has had a torrid Autumn so it remains to be seen if he comes up again in the Spring, if he does he is a second to none chance. He may of course stick to the weight for age racing that he has proven so successful in. Saptapadi who ran 16th last year is now with Jim Conlan and ran last at his first start this time around, Drunken Sailor is with Mike Moroney and has had a profitable season but both would need to find a few lengths with their new stables to come into contention.
Maybe if Americain comes back he will get a lighter weight than last year and will improve.
Who have I missed from last year’s overseas runners that might head back this year?
Next time I’ll have a look at some locals who ran last year and see if any of them are capable of improving.