The Rating Bureau: 2016 Melbourne Cup

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Race Assessment

R7: The Melbourne Cup – 3200m Open G1 Hcp


The Track

The track is currently a Good 3 (Monday) with generally fine weather forecast for Tuesday except for the possibility of a shower around midday. The rail remains in the true position after Saturday’s Derby Day meeting.  We expect that it will play fairly again with some prospect that the inside will be a marginal disadvantage after Saturday’s traffic, especially if there is a shower before the race.

Speed and Tactics 

Unlike last year, there appears to be genuine speed in this year’s Melbourne Cup. The media have reported that Tom Berry will be instructed to go forward on Curren Mirotic (18) and ensure the race is a genuine 3200m test. Big Orange (7) is a noted leader and he won’t want to give that position up too easily while Qewy (15), Secret Number (10) and Gallante (2) can also press forward… Wicklow Brave (24) may also roll forward.

Early Pace Rating: Average to above average

Late Pace Rating: Average to below average

Best Suited: Neutral – Strength at 3200m will be more important than position in running, although any further back than 8 lengths at the 800m is likely to make it difficult.

WFA Performance Ratings – Winning Benchmark

The profile created by lead up form into this race suggests that a WFA Performance Rating of at least 107 to 108 at the weights will be needed to win. That assessment process involved looking at each horse’s past ratings (which are normalised to WFA) and then adjusting them for the weight below WFA they are set to carry in this race. The nature of handicap racing is that it gives lesser quality horses the chance to be competitive and win by virtue of an advantage in weight carried, where as they would have very little chance in a weight for age race.

International Runners – First Australian Start

One of our key principles in assessing the Melbourne Cup field is to penalise any international runner that has not had an Australian lead up run. Since Vintage Crop in 1993 there has been 86 international runners enter the Melbourne Cup without an Australian lead up run… for zero winners.

Red Cadeaux almost broke that trend in 2011 when just nosed out by Dunaden and some others have placed. However their lack of success appears significant, especially when you compare them to those international runners that did have an Australian lead up run.  We can do that in more detail back to 2005 as shown below.

International horses over the last 11 years:

  • With an Australian lead up: 48 runners – 4 wins – 11 placings
  • No Australian lead up: 47 runners – 0 wins – 8 placings

If you backed every international runner than had an Australian lead up run in the last 11 years then you would be in front over 40% on turnover on both win and place bets.

If we consider those runners under 20/1 since 2005

  • With an Australian lead up: 26 runners – 4 wins – 9 placings
  • No Australian lead up: 20 runners – 0 wins – 5 placings

While it doesn’t condemn internationals without a lead up run, the combination of these statistics presents a compelling picture that an Australian lead up run is a very powerful addition to the profile of an international stayer competing in the Melbourne Cup. Eventually we will see an international runner win without an Australian lead up race and they might even run the trifecta… it could happen this year… however we have been penalising internationals without a lead up run for more than a decade now and it continues to serve us well.

Internationals without an Australian lead up run this year include: Big Orange, Curren Mirotic, Bondi Beach, Wicklow Brave, Heartbreak City, Beautiful Romance and Secret Number

Race Assessment

In our assessed price order:

His Lexus win was outstanding. Benchmarking his speed related measures from that run highlight it as a serious G1 performance and he comes into this race with just 52kg. His overseas form might not be as strong as some of his counterparts but he’s the one that has come here and put a top class performance on Australian soil. The profile of an international with a good Australian lead up run has been a very powerful and profitable profile over the years and that only helps to solidify our assessment.

She’s been flying this preparation with faultless form and of course a dominant Caulfield Cup win. Her ratings are right in the competitive zone for this and her late strength over 2400m says there’s no reason to be concerned about 3200m here. She’ll get the chance to be switched off early in the run and then as a few others start to struggle, gaps should open up for her to start weaving through.

He’s progressed very well this preparation and has an excellent grounding for 3200m with two strong wins over 2400m and 2500m. His ratings are right in the competitive zone and he’s no doubt been set for this race all along by the Williams camp that well and truly know how to get one ready for the race (four previous winners). He looks one that could definitely run to a new career peak on the day and if he does that he’ll be right in the finish.

He’s by far the most difficult horse in the race to assess. Prior to the Cox Plate he was producing elite G1 WFA ratings and was thrown into this race with just 55kg, which would put him clearly on top of this field. However he has a nagging question having over him about whether he can produce his best in solidly run races and even over this distance. All of his best form is in races run at a moderate early pace and when confronted with more solid speed he has underperformed.

There may be genuine excuses for that each time, but it is a concern. While he did run 2nd in the Cox Plate, he did rate 4L to 5L below his previous form and the very fast pace looked to take its toll on his ability to accelerate at the key stage. While this race is unlikely to be run at that type of pace, it still looks genuine and that combined with the big step up from 2040m to 3200m makes it hard to like him. He certainly has the talent to win this, but when needing to make a final call on his chances we couldn’t be confident and prefer to oppose him.

The best of the internationals for us. There’s no doubt that this race has been a 12 month plan since his run in this race last year at just his 6th career start. His two overseas runs this preparation at 2414m look just okay on the surface, but he hasn’t had much go his way in either of them and they look little more than preparation runs for this race,  which have allowed him to get into the Melbourne Cup without a penalty for improved form. He hasn’t had an Australian lead up run which is a big concern but other than that he’s impossible to fault and looks ideally suited stepping up to 3200m.

His 4L Ebor win was very impressive and brings him into this with a rating is very competitive. He has no Australian lead up, which takes a little gloss off for us, but that aside he’s in the mix.

He ran fifth in the race last year when he initially looked suited up on a slow pace, but it may have been too slow for him. He’s a tough on pace type that can stick on well, with ratings that are competitive. No Australian lead up though.

He was well suited by a moderate speed when leading all the way to win the Geelong Cup but he could take significant improvement from that run and is likely to be even better suited going to 3200m. His ratings are thereabouts and he’s the powerful profile of an international with an Australian lead up run.

His Caulfield Cup run was very solid and with the benefit of that he could make good improvement into this race. As an international stayer (now based here) with an Australian lead up run, he has to be respected.

Comes here off a last LR win overseas over 2012m when he was first up for 313 days, which is a terrific effort.  His prior run was here at Flemington in the Queen Elizabeth last year when he was very solid second to Dandino which is a solid benchmark. His form / ratings are thereabouts in this and despite the lack of a local lead up, it wouldn’t surprise to see him run well.

His 2816m last start Irish St Leger win is a very solid rating reference for this race but so far that has been a career spike and his two prior runs over 3200m were clearly below that. If he repeats that last start win he’ll be hard to beat but given his overall form profile and the lack of a local lead up, we have concerns.

He has hit form at the right time with his win in the Moonee Valley Cup and is proven at 3200m. That’s a level below what’s needed here but he’s certainly not the worst.

He’s been to 3200m twice in his career and they were both good placings in the G1 Tenno Sho in Japan. Either of those runs would be in the mix here, but the problem is the rest of his form is very plain. He’s a horse that certainly has the talent to be thereabouts, but you couldn’t possibly be confident he’ll produce it on the day.

He was a solid second in the Geelong Cup and is sure to take improvement from the run. Slight query about 3200m.

His run in the Caulfield Cup was solid, but he was still beaten 4.8 lengths, which is hardly prime Melbourne Cup form. He could spike here and get somewhere in the mix, but on the surface he’s hard to like.

He had excuses last start in the MV Cup but does have a 3200m Sydney Cup win on his resume so we know the trip is no problem. That said though, he’d need a clear new career peak here.

She does have some overseas ratings that could be thereabouts here, but lack an Australian lead up and her recent form is questionable.

His lead up form is moderate and needs a wet track to produce his best.

The best of his form is safely below the level that is needed to get into the mix here.

Racing OK but his best is well below this standard.

His lead up form has been great, but it’s well below the standard need to figure in this race.

His run in the Caulfield Cup was just fair and a strong run 3200m doesn’t look all that suitable when his best has mostly come in moderately run races.

Ran second in a Wellington Cup over 3200m but looks well and truly outclassed here.

Looks outclassed on her best and her recent form is terrible.

Betting Strategy

Both Oceanographer and Almandin appeal as the clear betting value in this race.  Decide how much you want to outlay on the race and then stake in the following way.

Back on Betfair BACK (WIN) – Oceanographer – 70% of race outlay

Back on Betfair BACK (WIN) Almandin – 30% of race outlay





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