3pts win Vauban @5/2, 4:00AM Flemington, Tuesday

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

I normally like to try and find a winner lurking at bigger odds than our selection in the Melbourne Cup this coming Tuesday. But such is the confidence and expectation about VAUBAN, I think it’s almost impossible to oppose him for win purposes. Vauban has been prepared and trained for this occasion for almost two years, probably since winning the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2022.

Vauban was acquired by Rich Ricci to be a dual-purpose horse and having run well in the Irish and British Champion Hurdle earlier this year, he put his Melbourne Cup credentials on show at Royal Ascot when coming away from a decent enough field to romp home from his stablemate Absurde by seven and a half lengths.

Vauban followed that up with another commanding performance to win the 1m 4f Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes at Naas going away fron Valiant King and has been favourite ever since. Willie Mullins has won just about everything there is to win in racing, but he hasn’t managed to claim the Melbourne Cup. The closest he came was Max Dynamite a few years’ ago who placed in the race for the same owners. But Mullins has never had a chance of glory like Mullins has with Vauban and with Ryan Moore on board and a nice draw in stall 3, I feel like it’s going to take a monster performance from anything else in the field to stop him.

There are of course some other classy types at the top of the market. I would have been quite keen on Gold Trip who looked better than ever on his comeback run this season in the Turnbull Stakes, but he has to carry a couple of lbs more and he also won’t get his favoured rain-softened ground with it set to be firm conditions. Without A Fight put up a career best to win the best trial for this race in the Caulfield Cup, but I have my doubts about his stamina reserves.

The two at bigger prices that I fancy to run into the places are Soulcombe who always starts slowly, but hasn’t been seen over this sort of trip and could improve a decent chunk for it. And of course the other Mullins star, Absurde, who won the Ebor by staying on stoutly. He looks like he could run a massive race as well.

But it’s all about Vauban for me, who I think is a class above his rivals, and should be able to make history for the Clossuton handler.

3pts win Vauban @5/2, 4:00AM Flemington, Tuesday

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