As usual the conflict between the overseas raiders and the locals is even muddier with the ones that came and stayed having been bought into by Aussie interests, and the other factor this year is the rain!!!!!
Some factors are constant though – such as it is very hard to win the Caulfield/ Melbourne Cup double (although a finish in the top 5 is a good thing); it is very hard to win the year to year double; it is hard to win if you have more than 54.5 kgs; it is hard to win if you are a female horse; it is harder to win if you haven't run over 3000m and finished in a good position, and so far impossible to win if you draw gate 18.
The favourite so far is Mer de Glace, a gorgeous Japanese horse (meaning entire) who won the Caulfield Cup impressively but can he do the double on a wet track? Has great jockey and gate 5 is good. Current price is 7.00 so watch carefully.
Constantinople is on 8.50 out from 8.00. He's now with Team Hayes having been purchased by Lloyd Williams. He's by Galileo whose progeny are probably better at a shorter trip. As a 4yo he's on 52.5 kgs and his record is 9 starts 2 wins and 5 places. In Ireland he was racing in small fields but he did look good in the Caulfield Cup where he had a bit of a rough trip but still finished fourth. Ticks a lot of boxes but maybe not the main one. Keep safe.
Finche has been our pick for some time and not much has altered. He was 4th in this race last year and has been gelded and aimed for this. He's a very handsome chestnut by Frankel and has the same weight as last year. Was running on well for 5th in the Caulfield Cup and has Kerrin McEvoy in the irons who has won this before. Comes from a top stable. The cut in the ground will certainly suit him. 10.00 a steady quote.
Vow and Declare was second in the Caulfield Cup, should be fine at the trip and has a postage stamp weight of 52 kgs. He's a 4yo gelding which fits the profile quite well and will have a lot of local support. Currently on 13.0.
Cross Counter won this last year, has won the Dubai Gold Cup in the meantime so no problems with the trip or the wet but has got a lot more weight this time. Comes out of gate 5 which is good but consecutive wins and the weight make this a more difficult assignment. 14.00.
Il Paradiso is another Galileo. As a 3yo he's not very experienced with 8 starts to his name and none here and only small fields. He's got the light weight of course and a promising future. 14.00 looks skinny.
Surprise Baby is NZ bred but doesn't seem to have wet form. He can do the trip as an Adelaide Cup winner and has been aimed at this having qualified. Gate 20 not ideal but not the worst and at 15.00 has his fans.
Mustajeer was 6th in the Caulfield Cup. Previously with Ger Lyons he won the Ebor and is a genuine stayer picked up by Australian Bloodstock. Has the services of the Carnival's winningest jockey in Damien Oliver. 17.00 could be value.
Raymond Tusk is another English stayer who can stay for ever but may not have the turn of foot required here. Comes out of gate 3 and Jamie Spencer has come to ride him. Has not had a prep here and although Gate 3 is good 17.00 looks a bit short.
Prince of Arran won the Lexus last year and then came back 3 days later to run 3rd in the Cup. A return trip was planned and he's done well since arriving winning the Geelong Cup. Could be value on 18.00.
Downdraft has been quite spectacular running third in the MV Cup then winning the Hotham on Saturday but a third tough race in 11 days? He's on a roll so could be worth sticking to him on 18.00 if you think he can do it. John Allen gets on well with him.
The only other one that is over the 20.00 that we are adding is Mirage Dancer, a former Sir Michael Stoute runner and as such is a model of consistency. He was 3rd in the Caulfield Cup and he's up in the weights and gate 13 might be lucky! 34.00 is value!
Summing up we like Finche, Mer de Glace, Prince of Arran, Vow And Declare and Mirage Dancer. And that's not to say that something could come out of left field and leave us all with our mouths open.