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By Graham Potter | Tuesday, November 6, 2018

First prize in this year’s Melbourne Cup is a cool $4 million … and those connections who just miss out by watching their horse finish second can look at the $1 million cheque they will collect for their runner-up finish and be thankful for their huge consolation prize while they muse about what might have been.

A $3 million difference between first and second. That would be an agonising photo-finish!

The third, fourth and fifth placed finishers get $500 000, $300 000 and $200 000 respectively while those who finish from sixth to twelfth, basically completing the first half of the field, get $150 000 each.

And then we wonder why the race attracts so many foreign entries.

Why wouldn’t they come, particularly as Australia’s breeding program, in general, hardly encourages the breeding of true stayers leaving the one hundred percent Aussie representative runners vulnerable to the invaders in more ways than one.

The first battle is for an Australian bred horse to find a place in the final field. As a pure statistic, it is quite incredible to note that there are only four Australian bred runners in the field of twenty-four … although fifteen of the twenty foreign bred runners do have an Australian connection through either the trainer or the jockey.

For the record, nine Irish-bred horse are in the line-up, six from Great Britain, two from New Zealand and one each from Japan, Germany and France. The fact that there are eleven trainers who don’t call Australia home also underlines just how far the internationalisation of the race has come since an Irish horse named Vintage Crop stuck his hoof in the water back in 1993 and came away with first prize.


The big question of course is who is going to emerge triumphant today?

If I say I think Williams is going to win it you would think I was tipping the obvious.

But I’m not talking about owner Lloyd Williams who has already won the race on no less than six occasions, including the last two years, making him the most successful owner in the race’s history.

I am talking about Ian Williams and his horse Magic Circle, the current second favourite behind Lloyd Williams’ Yacatan. A lack of match practise (Magic Circle has not raced since May 24) and a first start in Australia might count against Magic Circle but he did win his last two races in fine fashion over 3749m and 3264m which puts him in good stead in a race where several runners have a question mark against their name in terms of running out the 3200m trip of the Cup.

It doesn’t happen often but if you want to bet on Williams you might just have a better option than Lloyd.

And while we are following that theme let's not forget Craig Williams, the multiple Victorian Premiership jockey who knows every inch of the Flemington track better than most.

He rides Youngstar who is the only mare in the race.

Could it be an all-Williams trifecta?.


Or maybe it will a Godolphin runner that denies Lloyd Williams a third successive Cup win?

The mighty racing empires search for Melbourne Cup glory has raged over many years without the reward of a victory. How ironic would it be if James Cummings, the grandson of legendary trainer Bart Cummings who won the Cup a record twelve times, were to bring the first one home, not only for himself, but for the Godolphin organisation.

Cummings saddle Avilius but Godolphin is going into the race with a three-pronged attack. Best Solution, trained by Saheed Bin Suroor, and Cross Counter, trained by Charlie Appleby, will also carry Godolphin hopes.


As always, there are so many sub-plots in this year’s race.

Can Aidan O’Brien, who has trained literally hundreds of Group 1 winners right across the globe win his first Melbourne Cup this year? His son, Joseph, showed him the way last year when he claimed victory at his first attempt at the race with Rekindling, in a way upstaging his famous father.

Can the sole Japanese entry Chestnut Coat put his country back in the winner’s enclosure after the country’s quinella in the race with Delta Blues and Pop Rock back in 2006?

And there’s much more. Too many sub plots for one article.

So much to talk about. So much to weigh up.

So little time.

My selections are:
3 Magic Circle, 17 A Prince Of Arran, 11 Yucatan 10 Avilius

*The Melbourne Cup is the seventh race on the Flemington card. The race is scheduled for 2pm Queensland time.

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