2m Lexus Melbourne Cup (Group 1 Handicap) (3yo+)
I hate to see the back of the flat season. But, with it, comes the Melbourne Cup. The ultimate international staying handicap has last year’s winner Cross Counter lining up for back-to-back wins. The first since Makybe Diva managed to achieve the feat in 2004.
But having tipped Cross Counter last season off a featherweight, its going to be very difficult for him to follow it up off top-weight of 9st 1lbs now. Still, he’s a class horse but there are a few in this that might be better off at-the-weights.
Mer De Glace was an impressive winner of the Caulfield Cup three weeks’ ago and that could be the key form line coming in to this race. The Japanese raider has looked classy as he’s clocked up seven wins on the bounce across continents.
But Mer De Glace has never raced over further than 1m 4f and he’s not won a race on going worse than good. With it likely to be riding on the soft side of good, there are enough reasons to oppose him.
It was hard to not be taken by the run of CONSTANTINOPLE in the Caulfield Cup and he has been targeted at this race for some time now.
Constantinople represents the typical Melbourne Cup profile of the last two winners in Rekindling and Cross Counter. A young-progressive stayer, less than ten races and plenty of black type. Constantinople got no luck in running during the Caulfield Cup over 1m 4f and the step-up to two miles looks to be well in his range.
The son of Galileo has had a decent campaign in Europe with the pick of his form surely coming behind the eventual St. Leger winner Logician. Constantinople has a featherweight of 8st 4lbs and must surely be the best handicapped horse in this race with a plumb draw in seven. His price is probably about fair at 13/2 for the win.
If Vow And Declare had been drawn closer to the rail then he would have been a big hope for the home nation. But it’s hard to see him winning from 21. Finche also ran in the Caulfield Cup and has been aimed at this having finished fourth last year. He represents another solid pick and I can see him being punted.
But one horse seems to be overlooked with his sixth in the Caulfield Cup reading a lot better than the bare form and that’s MUSTAJEER. He looks great each-way odds at 16/1 having won the Ebor Handicap earlier in the season, which is often a good pointer to this. Mustajeer should also be suited by this style of contest and showed that he has taken to life down under with his previous run.
Mustajeer was competing with some of the best European middle-distance horses and stayers all season long which included third in the Group 1 Tattersalls Cold Cup earlier this campaign and he has also proven himself on slower ground.
Mustajeer was acquired prior to his Ebor win by the 2014 winning connections in Protectionist, and has the company of one of the best jockeys in Australia in Damien Oliver. Mustajeer has also been given a great draw and there could be improvement trying two miles for the first time as he has shaped like he will stay this trip.
1pt win Constantinople @13/2, Melbourne Cup, 4:00AM Flemington, Tuesday
1pt each-way Mustajeer @16/1, Melbourne Cup, 4:00AM Flemington, Tuesday (1-6 places, 1/5 odds with Paddy Power)