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By Darren Winningham | Monday, November 6, 2017


The race that stops the nation!

Sadly, I will be hard at work ... but watching the race on TV with the other punters!

Everyone knows it is the hardest race to bet on so don’t let me sway you away from one you may like. Whether it is because of the horse’s name, the jockey colours or even birthday numbers ... I think there are a thousand ways I have heard someone say why they backed the Melbourne Cup winner!

So, these are my thoughts on the 2017 Melbourne Cup.

I have come up with eight runners that I think could have some chance.


Almandin (2) around $9

Well what can you say - last year’s winner - the defending champion!

Trained by Robert Hickmott and co-owned by the Williams family who have made it their mission in recent years to target this race with their horses.

Last start at Flemington had a massive weight and chased hard late and just seemed to peak on his run. He goes up in weight this year (compared to his 2016 success), however he has a distinct liking for the Flemington course with five starts for three wins which will be to his advantage.

Frankie Dettori has replaced regular rider Damien Oliver who is suspended after his well-documented effort in the Cox Plate.

The Williams team have probably given Dettori his best opportunity to win his maiden Melbourne Cup. I think it is all over to him as the horse will be trained to the minute and has had this race set as his Grand Final the entire preparation.

This runner is a genuine chance.


Humidor (3) around $10

Trained by Darren Weir and ridden by the in-form Blake Shinn, this is the horse that pushed Winx to the extreme last weekend. Can he get the 3200 metres - that is the big question?

Look I am going out on a limb and say he won’t get the distance. I think he is a genuine 2000 metre horse that would be best placed over that distance, BUT, you have the Darren Weir polish and the Blake Shinn magic. If Shinn can get him to go to sleep and save a big run at the clock tower he may be right in this!

Again he seems to have a liking for the Flemington track - four starts for two wins and a third. I think this is sometimes important in this race as some horses do thrive on this track.


Marmelo (5) around $10

Now I did say this was my watch horse in the Caulfield Cup. The one I expected to be finishing off the race and powering home late - well I was right! It is well documented how good he finished off the Caulfield Cup.

I did say that he looked well placed in the Caulfield Cup and my hesitation was that he was having his first ever Group 1 start - in a foreign country and a distance not really suitable.

Well it is fair to say the performance was good and if he can back that up here on Tuesday he should feature in the finish.

Prior to that run I managed to get on at $31 for the Melbourne Cup - so I won’t be backing him again at the short odds.

Now I did warn you all last start at Caulfield - his record third up is pretty good with 2 starts for 1 win and 1 second. He is second up in the Melbourne Cup - so that he may be just one run short. He does fit into the historical statistics of being a five year old - these horses have won the most Cups with 45 wins. The last five year old being Protectionist (2015).

He is to be ridden by Hugh Bowman. He has been in wonderful form and is looking for his first ever Melbourne Cup winner.

This runner is a serious chance.


Johannes Vermeer (7) around $11

Another five year old runner that is setting out on a 3200 metre journey for the first time.

I have an opinion of this runner although I didn’t rate him in the Caulfield Cup when he was sent out as a $5 favourite. Again the trip is the biggest query. He, like Humidor (3), seems to be at home at distances around 2000 metres.

However, on the run in the Caulfield Cup - he was making good ground before being held up and having to change stride and a checkered run to the winning post - I think that if jockey Ben Melham can settle him and bring him wide or sustain a clear run in the straight he may be the horse to beat in 2017.

The other reason I like him is that he has had two runs in Australia prior to the Cup. I always think this can be an advantage.

He has a good third up record with two starts for one win. He has raced in Group 1 company on seven occasions for one win and three placings.

Another overseas runner in which the Williams family has a share in - be assured he will be set for this race!

It just could be the Luck of the Irish!


Max Dynamite (9) around $16

This runner ran second in the 2015 Melbourne Cup when just beaten by Prince of Penzance in the race that rocketed Michelle Payne to fame!

Last start he won at the picturesque Killarney track in Ireland. I have never been to the track but some friends who have suggest it is a wonderful track and worth the trip if you are ever in the vicinity.

On Sunday the eight year old gelding had a very solid hit out at Werribee and has the services of Hong Kong based Zac Purton who is coming to partner him for the first time. Last start he carried a mammoth 73 kilograms when he won and drops 19 kilograms down to 54 kilograms for the Melbourne Cup - drawn barrier 2 as well.

My spies from Melbourne strongly are suggesting that he has settled in well and has been working well for his second attack on the Cup!

Again the Melbourne Cup trophy is not present on Zac Purtons’ trophy cabinet - maybe 2017 will be the year that this changes!


Wall Of Fire (20) around $14

Another Irish runner - trained by an Irishman, Hugo Palmer, based at Newmarket in the UK.

Last start in the Herbert Power at Caulfield this five year old worked home well under a massive weight of 58 kilograms - he drops to 53 kilograms for the Cup but has drawn wide in barrier 15. Craig Williams takes the ride.

He is having his first start in Group 1 company so I am not too sure how he measures up here.

He was caught wide at Caulfield and probably was four or five wide most of the journey but he did finish off the race well. He has had a few starts at distances around 2900 metres and has yet to win.

Whilst he may be out of his depth here, I think he is a genuine lightweight chance and Craig Williams will have prepared an A, B and C plan for this runner so you know he will be given every chance.


Rekindling (22) around $14

Wow - another one that the Williams family has a share in! He seems to have them all covered this year!

I wonder how he will keep his eyes on them all - I suppose he will just be looking for those distinguished Navy Blue colours that his runners carry. I bet the race callers and punters will be confused if there is a flood of navy blue silks in the finish!

This runner probably would be best suited with some rain and a wet track. If there is rain on Cup day I will be backing him - I think he grows webbed feet!

Last start, seven weeks ago, in the Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster he was beaten around 2 lengths carrying 57.5 kilograms. He drops all the way down to 51.5 kilograms in the Melbourne Cup. The weight will be beneficial and I think the engagement of Corey Brown is a big plus for his chances.

This runner has had three Group 1 runs and whilst he has not placed or won yet he has performed well.

My only reservation here on Tuesday is that if the track is firm he may just find it a little tough.


Amelia’s Star (23) around $20

Another one of Darren Weir’s runners. He has three lining up this year!

Look I am going to say totally forget the last start run at Caulfield. She is not a fan of Caulfield and she always runs well at Flemington. She has three starts here for one win and one second.

Go on the great win the start prior at Flemington in the Bart Cummings at Group 3 level over 2500 metres.

Dean Yendall has his first ride on the mare and she will race handy on the speed. I certainly don't think she get too far back in the run – she’ll just make her own luck if ridden there.

Now when you got through the history of the Cup it is not friendly for mares winning it!

Only 16 females have ever won the Cup and this figure is boosted by the three consecutive wins of the wonder mare Makybe Diva when she won consecutive cups commencing in 2003.

Ironically she was the last mare to win as well in 2005.


Well there you have it 2017 Melbourne Cup preview!

Now for WINNO’s tips:

Selections: 7-9-5-3 rough chances to 2, 20, 22 & 23.


Other races:

Race 1 - Setsuna (1) to beat the first starter Aristocratic Miss (3).

Race 2 - Invincibella (3) - forget the last start at Moonee Valley - she was robbed!

Race 3 - New Universe (6) Tommy Berry in the saddle and unbeaten second up - good value.

Race 4 - Save your money - rubbish race

Race 5 - Prezardo (11) each way to beat Property (1).

Race 6 - Our Crown Mistress (2).

Race 8 - Nozomi (13) from Von Tunzelman (20).

Race 9 - Calanda (6) from Faatinah (2) others 3 and 10.

Race 10 - Swampland (11) from Pedrena (13) others 1,2,3 and 6.


Quaddie (races 7 to 10)

3,5,7,9 / 11,13,20 / 2,3,6,10 /2,3,6,11,13 - cost is $240 to $1

Treble (races 8 to 10)

11,13,20 / 2,3,6,10 / 2,3,6,11,13 - cost is $60 to $1

Good luck and good punting!

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