The Melbourne Cup – Australia’s Greatest Race

Horse Racing Radar
Chris O'Rorke
Chris O'Rorke is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Monday, November 2, 2020

The Melbourne Cup – Australia's greatest race

It is the race that stops a nation­­ – the $7.7 million 3200-meter (two mile) test of endurance that brings together 24 of the best stayers from Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the United Kingdom. The 2020 Melbourne Cup takes center stage this Tuesday afternoon (Australian time) and the team at have brought us their preview and racing tips for the big race.

The first running of the Melbourne Cup was in 1861, and its now part of the fabric of Australian culture. This year, despite the impact of COVID-19, the race must go on. The field is as strong as ever with several serious international contenders in town to battle many of Australia's own superstars.

Let's first focus on the international raiders looking to take the huge Australian purse back to their own shores.

The race favourite at 8-1 is (21) Tiger Moth who comes to Melbourne with a huge international reputation. He has performed well in the Irish Derby and won at Group 3 level in the UK. Due to being lightly raced (only five starts) he has many questioning whether its too early to tackle the Cup. But more of the international trainers are targeting the Cup early in their horse's careers to reduce the weight they are allocated, compared to the older more seasoned stayers. He also has one of Australia's leading jockeys on board in Kerrin McEvoy. McEvoy simply knows how to win the big races so Tiger Moth will be tough to beat.

Another of the overseas horses to watch out for is the top weight (1) Anthony Van Dyck. He recently came from almost last to place second in the 2020 Caulfield Cup (one of the key lead-up races). It was a huge effort. He looks a winning hope but the sceptics would say that's too much weight over too much distance for him to win. He also gets one of Australia's star jockeys in Hugh Bowman.

(5) Sir Dragonet comes into the Cup after an impressive win in the 2020 Cox Plate – one of the other main lead-in races. He has been a major player in similar races in Ireland and England, can handle the long distance, and comes into this well-weighted. He is a genuine contender at 11-1.

The other international horses (6) Twilight Payment, (9) Stratum Albion and (10) Dashing Willoughby should not be overlooked. You do not bring a horse to Australia unless they are going to be seriously competitive.

Looking at the Australian runners we start with last year's winner (3) Vow And Declare. At odds of around 40-1 he has not shown a lot since taking out the Cup. Rest assured, he will be targeting this race but you could not entertain him as a serious contender. It's rare to win a Melbourne Cup – and very unlikely to get two of them.

(7) Verry Elleegant is potentially Australia's current #1 superstar. She held off Anthony Van Dyck to win the Caulfield Cup – it was a great victory. She seems to know where the line is and manages to time her runs to perfection. At 11-1 you will not be getting those odds for her in any other race – or on the day. She will be the popular pick.

(15) Russian Camelot has carried the weight of a nation in his past few runs. Commonly regarded as the next big thing in Australian racing, he has performed well, winning multiple Group races – but seems to fall short in the really big ones. He looks to be outgunned in the Cup.

The winner of the Geelong Cup over 2400 metres was (16) Steel Prince. He was showing some significant quality over distance races only to have languished last preparation. Now with a win under his belt he may be peaking and ready to go on with it. At great odds of 41-1 you should not exclude him from your thinking.

(13) Surprise Baby is a horse that has been mapped for this race, so the lead-in races have not meant much. Ready to fire and expected to be in contention.

(24) Persan could be the bolter at 31-1. He has gone from a maiden runner to the Melbourne Cup in one preparation, and has shown every ability to handle the distance. With the lowest weight he will be looking likely at some stage.

Of course there are many other class runners in the field we have not even mentioned.

So who do you back to win the Melbourne Cup? Unusually for this race, many of the contenders are better on Soft tracks, but they find themselves on a Good surface on Tuesday. The firmer surface may take its toll on some of them, especially over the 3200 meters. It is hard to deny the form and placement of the favourite in what looks like a preparation of military precision.

1.       Tiger Moth  8-1

2.       Verry Elleegant  11-1

3.       Steel Prince  41-1

4.       Anthony Van Dyck  17-2