1pt win Montefilia @14/1, 1pt win Duais @25/1, 4:00AM Flemington, Tuesday

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

The ‘Race That Stops A Nation’ offers, what on paper, looks like one of the weakest renewals for some time. The International raiders haven’t arrived in force despite a relaxation of the stringent vet requirements that kept them away last year. Nevertheless the market is spearheaded by the British trained long-time favourite, Deauville Legend. He certainly has high-class form in the book to beat his rivals with his excellent Group 2 victory in the Great Voltigeur the standout piece; he is a worthy favourite for James Ferguson.

I can easily see the son of Sea The Stars scooting to victory at Flemington with a plum draw in stall 9 and the services of multiple time Melbourne Cup winner Kerrin McEvoy on board. But his price of 11/4 looks daft for this 24 runner handicap, and it’s not as if there aren’t reasons to take him on, namely that he’s unproven over this distance, yet to run overseas and has never run on ground worse than good with it shaping up to be soft or worse come Tuesday afternoon.

I was quite keen on Without A Doubt for Ed & Simon Crisford, but he’s been landed with a terrible draw in stall 18 that will make it difficult for a horse who likes to race prominently. He’s also unproven on soft ground which might hurt his chances more than others. Taking those two out and the market looks inflated elsewhere.

This could therefore be another year for the home team. Typically the best pointer to a Melbourne Cup winner tends to come from the form of the Caulfield Cup, and the two that stood out for me from that race are five-year-old mares, MONTEFILIA and DUAIS.

Montefilia looks to have had this year’s Melbourne Cup on the agenda since she finished 4th in the Caulfield Cup in 2021. Instead of taking her chance last year as a four-year-old, her connections waited and have primed her for this season’s renewal as a stronger, more mature mare.

Montefilia has never gone futher than 1m 4f, but her pedigree screams stayer. Her dam Bana Wu was by German stallion Shirocco, whose father Monsun sired no less than three Melbourne Cup winners – Fiorente (2013), Protectionist (2014) and Almandin (2016). Montefilia’s dual Group 1-winning father Kermadec also has a deep staying pedigree. His sire was 2006 European champion two-year-old Teofilo who sired Cross Counter (2018) and Twilight Payment (2020) to victory.

She opened up her campaign this season with a facile victory over 2021 winner Very Elleegant on heavy ground and Montefilia should have no problem with the going conditions. Add to that the fact that she is a four-time Group 1 winner, put in the most eye-catching run and best finishing sectionals in the Caulfield Cup (coming from near last to 4th having not got a clear run) and that she has been drawn in stall 11, all adds up to a fantastic chance.

Our second pick, Duais, the daughter of Shamus Award, sire of last year’s unfortunate runner-up, Incentivise could be another one being peaked at the right time having been campaigned quietly with just the one run over 1m 4f in her last four starts. She was an early favourite for this race having picked up two Group 1’s back in the springtime.

At first glance, it might look like Duais’s form has dropped off in recent runs meaning that her price is now out to a massive 25/1. But she had a great prep in the Caulfield Cup when having to run very far wide before finishing well to get within a couple of lengths of the winner. Duais has also been given a favourable draw in 11, meaning star jockey Hugh Bowman can drop her in nicely and she should have plenty in the tank having had a carefully curated campaign over inadequate trips.

Ground worse than soft would be a concern for her, but her price looks like excellent value to run a big one in the Cup.

1pt win Montefilia @14/1, 1pt win Duais @25/1, 4:00AM Flemington, Tuesday

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