Several superstar stayers are in with a chance of being installed as the favourite to win the Melbourne Cup at Flemington on 3 November. The bookmakers have already released antepost odds on the race that stops a nation, and you can find great odds on a number of in-form contenders.
We do not yet know the identity of the 24 stayers that will compete, as final declarations do not take place until the Saturday before the race. The odds are liable to shift dramatically over the next few weeks, depending on who wins key lead-up races like The Bart Cummings and the Geelong Cup. The final barrier draw will also have a significant impact on the Melbourne Cup odds.
There is a great deal of uncertainty right now, but you can also find great early value by predicting which horses could end up among the favourites by November 3. These are the top horses to consider:
Russian Camelot wiped the floor with his rivals in the Group 1 SA Derby at Morphettville earlier this year. He was a huge underdog in a field stacked with talented runners, such as Dalasan and Warning, the Victoria Derby winner, but he put in a terrific performance and won it with ease.
It made him the first northern hemisphere-bred three-year-old to win a derby in Australian history, according to Greg Carpenter, Racing Victoria’s executive general manager. He was 144 days younger than the second youngest runner, and 172 days younger than the highly rated Dalasan.
“Obviously, he’s an exceptional horse,” said jockey John Allen after steering Russian Camelot to victory in May. “If he can beat them now when he’s only just turned three, imagine what he can do in six months’ time.”
Russian Camelot has spent his entire career in Australia after connections had him from the UK as a yearling and trained him like an English horse. He should have come on leaps and bounds over the past six months, and he is now ready to take on his rivals in the biggest events of the Spring Racing Carnival.
His trainer, Danny O’Brien, saddled last year’s Melbourne Cup winner, Vow and Declare, and he has another special talent on his hands in Russian Camelot. He is the early antepost favourite to win the Melbourne Cup, but there is plenty of time for that to change in the coming weeks, and you can find some appealing prices on a stayer with immense potential.
Paul Presker’s Surprise Baby delivered a solid performance to finish fifth in the Melbourne Cup last year. He had won five of 10 starts before the race, including the Group 2 Adelaide Cup over 3200, so he was among the favourites to salute. Surprise Baby settled towards the rear of the field, but came on really strong in the closing stages of the race. He was the fastest horse down the final 600m, and he finished less than a length behind winner Vow and Declare. He could have won it if jockey had Jordan Childs had made his move earlier in the race, and there were lots of positives for connections.
Surprise Baby returned to action with a second placed finish in the 1600m Feehan Stakes at The Valley earlier this month. He was just a neck behind Humidor, but the New Zealand-bred stayer will prefer a longer distance at Flemington. He has been handed 54.5kg this time around, which is 1kg heavier than he carried last year, but he could improve on his 2019 showing if the team pursues a different strategy.
Irish maestro Aidan O’Brien has three leading Melbourne Cup contenders in Anthony Van Dyck, Santiago and Tiger Moth. They have all been placed into quarantine to prepare for a trip to Melbourne, and O’Brien will have another strong hand in the big race.
Anthony Van Dyck will be the first winner of the Derby at Epsom to bid for success in the Melbourne Cup. He recently won the Group 2 Prix Foy at Longchamp, and he has always been competitive with the world’s best horses. However, that counts against him here, as Carpenter has assigned him a top weight of 58.5kg.
Santiago is another interesting prospect after he won the Irish Derby in June, then finished third in the Goodwood Cup and fourth in the St. Leger at Donacaster. However, the lightly raced Tiger Moth could represent O’Brien’s greatest chance of winning the Melbourne Cup. He won a maiden over 2000m and finished just a head behind stablemate in the Group 1 Irish Derby. Tiger Moth then went on to win the Group 3 Kilternan Stakes in dominant fashion, which inspired Carpenter to give him a 2.5kg penalty for the Melbourne Cup.
He will now carry 52.5kg, but that does not seem like much of a burden for an impressive young horse. He will aim to be the least experienced Cup winner in almost 140 years, with just four starts under his belt, but his potential is vast. Three-year-olds from the northern hemisphere have flourished in this race in recent years, including 2018 winner Cross Counter and 2017 winner Rekindling, and Tiger Moth could follow in their footsteps.
Chris Waller’s Verry Elleegant is aiming to become the first female Cup winner since Makybe Diva in 2005. She was unstoppable when winning the Group 1 Winx Stakes in August, and she could be among the favourites for the Melbourne Cup.
However, Waller warned he would go for the Cox Plate instead if Verry Elleegant was assigned too great a weight. She was then given 55kg, so she may skip it. You can see the confirmed list here nearer the race, and Verry Elleegant is certainly one to keep an eye on.
German raider Master Of Wine is another horse to follow over the next six weeks. The five-year-old gelding won consecutive races over 2000m and 2400m last year, and he drew considerable plaudits after winning over 1400m at Rosehill when he resumed earlier this year. He flopped in the Winx Stakes, but he could relish the significantly longer distance in the Caulfield Cup. If he thrives there, he could be the favourite for the Melbourne Cup.
Shared Ambition won The Macca’s Run over 2800m on the Melbourne Cup Day undercard last year, and he was quickly placed among the antepost favourites for this year’s Cup. His form has been indifferent since then, with victory in the 2000m Randwick City Stakes his only victory in six starts, but he is still on track for the Melbourne Cup. Ahsrun, King Of Leogrance, Oceanex and Master of Reality are also worth following in the weeks ahead.