Leading form analyst Deane Lester has Oceanographer on top of his 2016 Melbourne Cup tips and he believes that the Lexus Stakes winner is the horse to beat in the Group 1 event at Flemington on Saturday.
Oceanographer made his Australian racing debut with a fast-finishing third behind Qewy and Grey Lion in the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) at Geelong on October 19 and he stamped himself as a genuine Melbourne Cup contender with his brilliant victory in the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington yesterday.
Lester could hardly have been more impressed with the Lexus Stakes performance of Oceanographer and he told RSN that the son of Sea The Stars will be very tough to hold out if he fires in the 2016 Melbourne Cup.
“I am going with Oceanographer,” Lester said.
“I am very pleased that he got into the field and I think that he is a great winning chance.
“I have liked the way that he has been going for a while.
“After the Geelong Cup they knew the equation ahead that he had to win the Lexus and I would imagine that his training has been adapted to that and for the back-up.
“If he turns up in good shape on Tuesday he is a good chance of rounding them up and winning the Cup.”
Hartnell is currently favourite in the 2016 Melbourne Cup betting market with Ladbrokes and Lester believes that the Turnbull Stakes winner is the main danger to Oceanographer on Tuesday.
Lester said that Hartnell has had excuses both times that he has been beaten over 3200 metres in Australia and he is confident that nobody will be able to match the son of Authorized if he is able to replicate his Turnbull Stakes effort.
“He is a two mile winner early in his career,” Lester said.
“He over raced when beaten in the Sydney Cup and last year he just kept getting pushed wider and it was a bit of a non-event for him.
“It sets up very well for him to be a major player.”
Hartnell is currently available at 2016 Melbourne Cup odds of $5 with Ladbrokes and he is a narrow favourite from Oceanographer ($7), Caulfield Cup winner Jameka ($8), Lloyd Williams-owned Bondi Beach ($9.50), The Bart Cummings winner Almandin ($15), Ebor Handicap winner Heartbreak City ($15) and top-weight Big Orange ($16).