1 November 2004

Melbourne Cup tips

50 equals, ummmA few hours before Americans go the polls, Australians go to the races. Of course, the US election is important and all, but the Melbourne Cup is really serious. For 10 minutes on the first Tuesday afternoon of each November, every Australian workplace and shop comes to a standstill to watch Australia's richest horse race. And despite the fact that everyone's suddenly a horse-racing expert, bookies and totalizators across the country nevertheless rake in money at a canter. Expect over A$100 million to be bet this year in a country of only 20 million people.

The Cup is a punter's nightmare. Top class horses from the UK and New Zealand travel vast distances to compete with Australia's best for the A$4.15 million on offer. Each year many starters are untested over the 3200 m, or being ridden by jockeys who hadn't seen them before the previous morning's trackwork. The field is vast, and the potential for bad runs immense.

Until recently I had a great record in tipping this race. I made a mess of it last year, but I have now picked the winner 11 years in 15 tries. And because I am not afraid to make a prat of myself in public, here are my tips for this year.
Of course the usual disclaimers apply. I am not responsible, blah, blah, if you lose don't complain to me, but if you win money on my tips please send it to me by return mail, etc, etc.

Conditions: Rain is forecast, and the track has also been watered, so it's likely to be Dead to Slow.

The top 2

Makybe Diva Last year's winner looks likely highly likely to win again. She is an outstanding mare who will cope with any conditions and if she gets a good run it's hard to see her being bettered.

Vinnie Roe If there's a bit of give in the ground, the champion Irish horse will be in the finish. Coming off a fourth consecutive victory in the Irish St Ledger.

Others to watch

A good Irish stayer from a top trainer, but a bit of an unknown here. In form, but all his success has been on good tracks. One to watch.

Elvstroem Three wins in a row two starts back in G1 and G2 races. All came from racing handy. In Cox Plate run he was slow off the line and caught back, but ran on well. Untested at distance, but in real form. Will handle wet track.

Pacific Dancer Won Geelong Cup over 2400 from being 11th at the 800 and 400. That field was not of the same class, but he showed he can stay. Needs dry track though.

Grey Song 6th last year running on at the finish, and finished well in the Caulfield. Will be thereabouts. Will handle heavier going.


Catchmeifyoucan If you like an outsider, this is the one to be on. Lacks the class of the others, but flashed home for 4th in the 2400 m Metropolitan Group 1 having been 13th at the 800 and 400 and caught wide throughout. Will handle all conditions.

Question marks

Media Puzzle Won this race well in 2002, then didn't race for 94 weeks due to a leg injury. A class gelding with proven ability, and working quite well, but looks too risky here.

She's Archie Second last year in a tremendous run. Good early preparation this campaign, then injured and has not run for a month. Has the ability, but perhaps the poor preparation will be too much.

Stay tuned for my late mail an hour or two before race time, and good luck.Go to eebahgum!

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