It’s a very early start for European race fans but the early hours of Tuesday morning herald the latest running of the ‘race that stops a nation’ as Flemington Park gets set for Melbourne Cup Day.
Joseph O’Brien’s Rekindling won in 2017 to end a European famine of 15 years and there was further success for the northern hemisphere in 2018 when Charlie Appleby’s Cross Counter scored for Godolphin.
The Europeans are out in force again in 2020, at what will be an eerily silent Flemington.
Van Dyck to Make History?
No horse has ever managed to win The Derby at Epsom and the Melbourne Cup but that is what Anthony Van Dyck
(7/1) attempts here.
He’s one of a strong assault from trainer Aidan O’Brien to finally end his quest for Melbourne Cup glory. Anthony Van Dyck’s Classic win is scorned by some after he failed to scale further heights last season but, in three European runs this year, he has finished second to Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket and beaten Stradivarius at Longchamp in September.
That’s excellent form and Anthony Van Dyck warmed up for this with a good second behind Verry Elleegant in the Caulfield Cup recently. If his stamina holds up, he may be the one under Hugh Bowman – the top-class Aussie pilot yet to win this race.
Tiger Moth heads the betting for the Ballydoyle trainer meanwhile. He won a Leopardstown Group 3 on Irish Champions Weekend in September and had also finished second in the Irish Derby in June.
Kerrin McEvoy’s mount aims to become the third three-year-old winner in four years after Rekindling and Cross Counter, but he’s drawn in stall 23 and that’s a negative.
Prince to Hit the Right Note
Charlie Fellowes once again has sent Prince Of Arran to run in the race. He agonisingly missed out behind Vow And Declare last year and will attempt to win the race at the third time of asking.
Leading the Aussie challenge in the betting is Paul Preusker’s
7/1 chance Surprise Baby, who finished a very good fifth in the race 12 months ago and could have more to offer now.
Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet made a dream start for new connections in winning that Moonee Valley race after departing Ballydoyle and looks to have excellent claims of thwarting his former trainer Aidan O’Brien on that evidence.
Steel Prince Worth a Punt
For an each-way play in the big race, there’s reason to see
33/1 chance Steel Prince going well.
Anthony and Sam Freedman’s charge finished ninth a year ago, beaten only two-lengths, having had to make up plenty ground in the home stretch. He went into the race then after being well held in the Group 3 Geelong Cup and returns having won that same race last month.
William Pike will have to negotiate from a higher draw than ideal but six-year-olds have won the Melbourne Cup five times since 2010 and Steel Prince looks a fair price to run well.
Further European hopefuls include the 2019 Cesarewitch winner Stratum Albion for Willie Mullins and Andrew Balding’s outsider Dashing Willoughby. He boasts promising European form but was disappointing in the Caulfield Cup.
*All odds correct at time of writing.