1pt win Spanish Mission @9/1, 4:00AM Tuesday, Flemington

2m Lexus Melbourne Cup (Group 1 Handicap) (3yo+)

The race that stops a nation, has a very different complection to it this year. A dearth of international horses for the first time in well over a decade, only 10,000 people in attedance and the shortest-price favourite since the 1950’s may mean that the Melbourne Cup is a non-event this year.

But it’s never quite as simple as that in horse-racing. And I can’t let SPANISH MISSION go unbacked at his current odds of 9/1. The favourite, Incentivise, looked bound to claim success in this race given how he hosed up in the Caulfield Cup from a wide-draw. But I cant be getting stuck into a less than 2/1 favourite for this race particularly as he has never raced over the trip and will have to carry the most weight to win this since Maybe Diva did the double in 2000’s.

Whilst Incentivise looks to have nearly all of the local opposition in his pocket having trounced most of this field in the Caulfield Cup, it’s another thing getting the measure of the international opposition, even if it’s depleted.

Spanish Mission races off the same-weight as Incentivise, has a marginally better draw, and should theoretically be “fresher” for this race having been campaigned lightly this season. On the bare form, Spanish Mission is probably in the top five stayers in the world having gone down by a neck to Stradivarious in the Lonsdale Cup in August whilst only finishing behind Princess Zoe and Subjectivist in the 2m 4f Group 1 Gold Cup at Ascot in June.

He has by far the strongest staying credentials of any horse in this race (bar possibly last year’s winner Twilight Payment) and looks to have been underestimated by the market as he shouldn’t be nearly 5x the price of the favourite.

Granted Spanish Mission may not have had the ideal prep coming over and has had to face a stringest inspection process just to allow him to run. But he is best when the ground is quick as it will be on Tuesday, he has travelled overseas well before (winning at Belmont whilst coming second in Riyadh) and at signifcant odds for a horse that’s been trained all year for this, I feel the reward offsets the risk that he may not be quite at his best on the day given the exertions.

There is an honourable mention for Sir Lucan who looks very well-handicapped, but has to come from stall 18, and also Grand Promenade who may be best of the other Southern Hemisphere contenders.

1pt win Spanish Mission @9/1, 4:00AM Tuesday, Flemington (Unibet)

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