Apr 20

Max Presnell rates the Melbourne Cup runners


Admire Rakti

Weight is the only query with this seven-year-old but most of his top rivals are too close to him. He has been given a perfect Japanese preparation, the same as Delta Blues before his 2006 win. Will appreciate the anticipated firm ground, which could take a toll on others, and has the benefit of an Aussie navigator in Zac Purton.


A nine-year-old but age hasn’t wearied him as he is in career best form, which keeps him on the radar on Tuesday. Failed badly in the 2012 Melbourne Cup, run at a dawdle, but has subsequently been successful in Dubai and the UK. Jockey Craig Williams is a plus.


The best local hope and the hardest to beat. An excellent second in a strong Cox Plate confirms the necessary class, but will it extend to 3200 metres? The gelding was sixth last year after giving a long start – mastermind and owner Lloyd Williams intimated jockey Nick Hall “went to sleep”. Expect both horse and man to be lively, mentally and physically, on Tuesday afternoon.

Red Cadeaux

Another old-timer who looks good and has a penchant for Flemington. Second in two previous Melbourne Cups, but I can’t see him adding to that tally here.


A five-year-old from Germany, this rising star is potentially the best horse in the race, coming along a similar European trail to Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011). Also has the benefit of Australian experience, finishing fourth in the Herbert Power at Caulfield. I’m gambling against him. It could be the wrong move.


Widely travelled and a group 1 winner in Germany. Failed pulling hard in the Caulfield Cup and was subsequently described by jockey Craig Newitt as “dour”. Too slow for mine.


Benefited from a great Blake Shinn ride to take The Metrop at Randwick but with 55.5 kilograms could be tested against this company. Has the assistance of Hugh Bowman, a great distance rider, but it won’t be enough.

Royal Diamond

Another nine-year-old eligible for the pension or the paddock and regarded as the second pick of the John Murtagh stayers. Acts over two miles, but not with any brilliance. Back with the cap-catchers.


Did not like Sydney and a failure for Chris Waller. A Geelong Cup winner (2012) and subsequently back with John Gosden in the UK. His form has been good in much weaker races. Not a contender.

Mutual Regard

Being an Ebor winner last start and still having the bloom of youth at six, he appeals strongly but I did not include him in my first four because he has not had Australian experience. Great rides win the Melbourne Cup and none do it better than his jockey, Damian Oliver.

Who Shot Thebarman

Likes Flemington and is a proven 3200m horse, having won the Auckland Cup. Failed in the Caulfield Cup but on later examination was found to have mucus in his lungs. Lacks the necessary class to figure in the top bracket but, with Glen Boss up, he should get a good passage.

Willing Foe

An eight-year-old which has had three starts in the last two years. Regarded abroad as “gifted”, but fragile. Maybe he’s just a travelling companion for Godolphin’s major player, Cavalryman.

My Ambivalent

Obviously top-class, but a flighty mare. Targeted at the Caulfield Cup but withdrawn because of to injury. Under the circumstances, the 3200m journey is a problem.


Remarkably, did not make the field last year when in better form. Had excuses for his last-start Moonee Valley Cup failure and lacks the lead-up credentials of his past three Melbourne Cup attempts.  Only the fact that J.B. Cummings is in his credentials entitles him to any respect.


Certainly his effort in the Mackinnon at Flemington on Saturday was ordinary, not unlike Viewed (2008) before he won the Big One. But Viewed struck interference. Brambles was too slow but has enough pace to take a position here. However, not where it matters.

Mr O’Ceirin

Concussion plates going on as a gear change indicates the firm ground could be a problem. Also, his recent Cranbourne Cup failure hardly puts him into the form horse category.

Au Revoir

Prepared by Andre Fabre, known as a champion French trainer, the five-year-old can improve fitness-wise on his Moonee Valley Cup third, but could this be more an exploration exercise for the future, for the trainer if not for the horse?


Like Lidari, the last four Melbourne Cup winners have been northern hemisphere six-year-olds. He was sixth in the Caulfield Cup and lacks quality and a staying element, in my opinion, but Racing And Sports has him highly, if not, top rated.


Catch him on his day and he is better than average. However, this was not the case in the Moonee Valley Cup last start. Perhaps a tidal wave would help. But that appears unlikely.


Third in The Metrop and that is a reasonable credential, as was his Caulfield Cup fifth. But the 23 launch is hardly a plus for a stayer which needs all the breaks.

Lucia Valentina

Highly talented and the youngest entrant in the race. Produced an outstanding Melbourne Cup trial when third in the Caulfield Cup. So why didn’t she make my top four? She has the class but maturity and staying power are the queries.

Unchain My Heart

The Flemington metric two miles are much to her liking, but class and tempo will test this eight-year-old mare, still racing at an age when most of her gender are at stud or in a paddock.


With 51kg, he has the handicap to test the topweights, even allowing for the possibility of Joao Moreira riding another half kilo overweight. Trainer Darren Weir has given the five-year-old gelding a strong foundation and he should look sweet in the run for a long way. Then class will kick in. Top three for sure.

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