The 2015 Melbourne Cup form guide will be the most sought after reading for punters in the lead-up to the $6 million event that will be held at Flemington on Tuesday.
The Melbourne Cup grows in quality every single year and in 2015 we have a field that features an incredible amount of depth as well as leading stayers from right around the world.
Our team of horse racing experts have closely analysed all 24 horses that are set to contest ‘the race that stops a nation’ and complied all the information that you need to know before you make your 2015 Melbourne Cup selections.
1. Snow Sky (58kg)
Snow Sky started his 2015 European racing season with wins in the Yorkshire Cup and the Hardwicke Stakes before he failed to fire against some of the best horses in the world in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes. He was well-backed in the lead-up to the Caulfield Cup and he looked in the perfect position at the top of the straight, but he copped a check and could only hold his ground to the line to finish fifth. Top-weights have extremely poor records in the Melbourne Cup and he would have to improve on his Caulfield Cup run, but he is still well over the odds at $41.
2. Criterion (57.5kg)
Criterion was sent to England for the summer where connections tried to put some stamina into his legs and he returned to Australian racing with a fast-finishing victory in the Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes before he finished a strong second behind Winx in the Cox Plate. There is doubt over his ability to run out a strong 3200 metres, but he did win the Australian Derby as a three-year-old and he is in a similar mould to Jeune and Saintly. He will look like the winner at some stage and if he is able to run out a strong 3200 metres he will prove very tough to beat.
3. Fame Game (57kg)
Fame Game is currently a dominant favourite in Melbourne Cup betting markets and he is the worst result for bookmakers right around the country. Fame Game absolutely savaged the line when he finished second behind Gold Ship in the Tenno Sho in Kyoto in May and he produced the perfect Melbourne Cup trial when he finished sixth behind Mongolian Khan in the Caulfield Cup. There is no doubt that Fame Game is the horse to beat in the Melbourne Cup and he will relish the step-up to 3200 metres, but a wet track is some concern and the question becomes is $4 good value for any horse to win a Melbourne Cup.
4. Our Ivanhowe (56kg)
Our Ivanhowe made his Australian racing debut with a flat effort in the RA Lee Stakes in Adelaide in May, but he produced an improved performances in the Naturalism Stakes, The Bart Cummings and the Caulfield Cup. He looked like the winner at the 300 metre mark in the Caulfield Cup, but he died on his run late and there is some question over his ability to run out a strong 3200 metres. A wet track will only help him and he is another horse that is over the odds at his current price.
5. Big Orange (55.5kg)
Big Orange made a slow start to his 2015 racing season, but he came into Melbourne Cup contention when he took out the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket before he beat Quest For More and Trip To Paris to take out the Goodwood Cup. He was very disappointing in the Lonsdale Cup, but there were genuine excuses. He might not have the turn-of-foot required to win the Melbourne Cup, but he will likely be settled in the leading group and could stick it out to the finish for a top five placing.
6. Hartnell (55.5kg)
Hartnell was one of the star performers of the 2015 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, but he has been unable to replicate that form this spring. He performed fairly without ever looking like a winning chance in both the Chelmsford Stakes and Turnbull Stakes, but his performance in the Cox Plate was better than it looked on paper and was similar to that of Green Moon in the same race before he won the 2012 Melbourne Cup. He is a very tricky horse to assess, but he couldn’t beat a much weaker field than this to win a Sydney Cup and he is arguably not in the same vein of form.
7. Hokko Brave (55.5kg)
Hokko Brave started his season with a third place finish in The Nikkei Sho and he was far from disgraced when sixth behind Gold Ship and Fame Game in the Tenno Sho. He was caught wide in the early stages of the Caulfield Cup and he had excuses, but he still didn’t find the line as you would like to see ahead of the Melbourne Cup. He has drawn wide again and it is tough to see him turning-the-tables on the horses that beat him home in the Caulfield Cup.
8. Max Dynamite (55kg)
Max Dynamite brings a unique formline into the Melbourne Cup due to his ability over the jumps, but there is no knocking his ability. The Willie Mullins-trained stayer finished a fast-finishing second behind Quest For More in the Northumberland Plate and he was second in the Galway Hurdle in Ireland before he produced the best performance of his racing career to date to beat the likes of Trip To Paris and Big Orange in the Lonsdale Cup. Max Dynamite may have been flattered by the winning margin in the Lonsdale Cup, but his turn-of-foot was there to see and he looks a similar type to Simenon, who finished fourth behind Fiorente in the 2013 Melbourne Cup.
9. Red Cadeaux (55kg)
The old marvel is back for his fifth tilt at the Melbourne Cup after finishing second in 2011, 2013 and 2014. He continued his love affair with Australia when he finished an unlucky second behind Criterion in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but he failed to fire in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the Hardwicke Stakes. Red Cadeaux returned to a semblance of his best form when he finished third in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes and we know that he goes to another level in the Melbourne Cup. His form is much better than it was going into the Melbourne Cup last year and you can simply never rule him out of contention.
10. Trip To Paris (55kg)
Trip To Paris joins his stablemate Red Cadeaux in the race and he is arguably an even more talented horse than his stablemate. The talented stayer has already nine starts in 2015, but he stamped himself as Melbourne Cup hopeful wins his wins in the Chester Cup and Ascot Gold Cup before he finished a tough third in the Goodwood Cup. Trip To Paris failed to fire in the Lonsdale Cup, but he showed that he had the turn-of-foot required to be a factor in the Melbourne Cup when he stormed home late to finish second behind Mongolian Khan in the Caulfield Cup. His closing 200 metre sectional was better than that of Fame Game in the Caulfield Cup and he will only improve when he steps-up to 3200 metres.
11. Who Shot Thebarman (54.5kg)
Who Shot Thebarman finished third in the Melbourne Cup last year and he is back for another tilt in 2015. The Kiwi stayed missed the placings in the Chelmsford Stakes, Hill Stakes and Turnbull Stakes, but there was still plenty of merit in his performances and he made up plenty of ground late to finish seventh in the Caulfield Cup. Who Shot Thebarman will absolutely relish the step-up to 3200 metres and he will enjoy the sting out of the track, which gives him every possible chance to run as well if not better than he did 12 months ago.
12. Sky Hunter (54kg)
Sky Hunter has had an injury disrupted season and he has only had two race starts in 2015. The Motivator gelding recorded an impressive win in the Dubai City Of Gold at Meydan in March, bur he suffered an injury that kept him away from the races for six months before he returned with a second place finish in the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup at Newbury on September 19. He had another minor setback at the Werribee International Equine Centre last week and even at his best he does not have the quality required to win a Melbourne Cup.
13. The Offer (54kg)
The one-time Melbourne Cup favourite gets his chance in the race, but 12 months later than expected. The Offer has followed an unusual path to the Melbourne Cup, but he won impressively first-up in the Rowley Mile and he outstayed his rivals to take out the Bendigo Cup last weekend. That form is certainly not good enough to win a Melbourne Cup, but his Sydney Cup win shows that he is capable of running out a strong 3200 metres and he is a legitimate top seven chance if any further rain hits Flemington in the lead-up to the $6 million event.
14. Grand Marshal (53.5kg)
History is against Grand Marshal as Makybe Diva is the only horse to have completed the Sydney Cup/Melbourne Cup double in the modern era. Grand Marshal missed the placings in the Chelmsford Stakes, Hill Stakes and Craven Plate, but he improved each time he was seen at the races. He could finish no better than 11th in the Caulfield Cup, but he ran some of the better closing sectionals in the race and was never really able to find clear running. It is tough to see him winning, but it would not surprise if he ran a big race.
15. Preferment (53.5kg)
Preferment has the chance to become the first horse since Efficient in 2007 to win the Melbourne Cup after taking out the Victoria Derby 12 months earlier. The Zabeel entire started his spring preparation with a flat effort in the Chelmsford Stakes, but he rocketed up Melbourne Cup betting markets with impressive wins in the Hill Stakes and the Turnbull Stakes. He never looked like a winning chance in the Cox Plate, but he was trapped in the worst part of the track and was still able to find the line fairly. He is bred to get the 3200 metres, but there is a genuine question mark over the form coming out of the Turnbull Stakes and he looks a touch under the odds at his current price.
16. Quest For More (53.5kg)
Quest For More took out the Lidsey Silver Anniversary Handicap and the Northumberland Plate at the start of his 2015 racing season and he was only narrowly beaten by Big Orange in the Goodwood Cup. He missed out on a place in the Caulfield Cup, but he started in the Geelong Cup and produced an absolute stinker. It would take a turnaround of mammoth proportions for Quest For More to even be competitive in the Melbourne Cup and the wide gate doesn’t help.
17. Almoonqith (53kg)
Almoonqith made a slow start to his racing career in Australia, but he savaged the line in the Naturalism Stakes and he had absolutely no luck in running when he finished seventh in The Metropolitan. He drew a wide gate again in the Geelong Cup, but he swept to the lead coming around the turn and he ran away from his rivals in the final stages to record a very impressive victory. There is a question mark over his ability to run out a strong 3200 metres as he appeared to die on his run when sixth behind Brown Panther in the Dubai Gold Cup earlier in the year, but if he runs the trip he will be right in the finish.
18. Kingfisher (53kg)
Kingfisher in the first of two Aidan O’Brien-trained horses in the 2015 Melbourne Cup field. Kingfisher has long been touted as a potential Melbourne Cup runner and he stamped himself as a genuine contender when he took out the Saval Beg Stakes and finished second behind Trip To Paris in the Ascot Gold Cup. The Galileo entire was disappointing in both the Irish St Leger Trial Stakes and the Irish St Leger and there are doubts about whether he has the turn-of-foot required to win the Melbourne Cup, but he has been one of the best-backed runners in Melbourne Cup betting in the past 24 hours.
19. Prince Of Penzance (53kg)
Prince Of Penzance gets a run in the 2015 Melbourne Cup after narrowly missing out on a place in the race last year. The tough stayer ran a corker first-up in the Memsie Stakes, but he was slightly disappointing in the Gold Nugget, JRA Cup and Hebert Power Stakes. He returned to a semblance of his best form with a tough second place finish behind The United States in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup on Cox Plate Day, but this is a significant step-up in class and he isn’t going well enough this year to be a factor.
20. Bondi Beach (52.5kg)
Bondi Beach is one of the most interesting horses in the Melbourne Cup field and he is set to have just his sixth race start in ‘the race that stops a nation. The lightly-raced stayer stamped himself as a horse to watch when he took out the Curragh Cup and he finished second in the Great Voltigeur Stakes before he finished a controversial second again in the Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes. Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds don’t have a bad record in the Melbourne Cup, but he has really been thrown in the deep end here and he faces a very stiff challenge.
21. Sertorius (52.5kg)
Sertorius finally gets an opportunity in the Melbourne Cup, but sadly he has raced at far from his best during the 2015 Spring Racing Carnival. He resumed with a credible performance in the Memsie Stakes, but he produced a flat effort in the Underwood Stakes and he was entitled to perform better in both the Herbert Power Stakes and the Geelong Cup. It is great to see him get a run and he ran well over 3200 metres in the Sydney Cup last year, but on his current form he is absolutely no chance in a race of this quality.
22. The United States (52.5kg)
The United States snuck into the Melbourne Cup field yesterday afternoon following the controversial withdrawal of his stablemate Amralah. The imported stayer started his spring preparation with a win at Moonee Valley on August 22, but he was narrowly denied in the Opie Cup and Naturalism Stakes before he had no luck whatsoever in the JRA Cup. He finally deliver on his potential with a strong victory in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup and he has always given the impression that he would relish the step-up to 3200 metres. The Macedon Lodge team are very bullish about his chances in the Melbourne Cup and he is a genuine chance to surprise down in the weights.
23. Excess Knowledge (51kg)
The Melbourne Cup has always been the major 2015 Spring Racing Carnival goal for Excess Knowledge, but he only just snuck into the field. Excess Knowledge performed fairly in both the P.B. Lawrence Stakes and Heatherlie Stakes, but he relished the step-up in distance and he was only narrowly denied in the Harry White Classic and Herbert Power Stakes before he scored a controversial win in the Lexus Stakes yesterday. Trainer Gai Waterhouse is confident that he will run a strong 3200 metres, but he would need to find several lengths of improvement on his Lexus Stakes performance to be competitive in the Melbourne Cup.
- Gust Of Wind (51kg)
Gust Of Wind has the chance to become the first horse to complete the Australian Oaks/Melbourne Cup double since Light Fingers in 1965. The talented filly beat Winx to take out the Australian Oaks and she produced promising performances in the Warwick Stakes, Makybe Diva Stakes and Turnbull Stakes before she toughed it out to the finish for a more than credible fourth in the Caulfield Cup. She is another horse that is sure to relish the step-up to 3200 metres, but she has to turn-the-tables on a number of horses that beat her home in the Caulfield Cup and she may not have the quality to do so.