1. Anthony Van Dyck (3) (T: A. O'Brien/J: H. Bowman/W: 58.5kg)
The 2020 Caulfield Cup runner-up was game in defeat, coming one of the widest on the turn, but just not being strong enough to gun down Verry Elleegant who was the eventual winner. He has not been tested over the two miles before, with his strongest form coming over 2400m.
The son of Galileo seems to be a horse who lacks a big turn of foot in the shorter staying races, but arguably will be even better suited over further given that he does not necessarily need a big turn of foot to win the race, more that he has the best form on the board and clearly has elite staying ability.
Looks a big chance if he can get a smother early from barrier three and use no energy during the run.
2. Avilius (10) (T: J. Cummings/J: J. Allen/W: 57kg)
This grand horse has not been able to stay the 3200m in his previous attempt at a Melbourne Cup, but now as a more seasoned horse and after a very unlucky run in the Caulfield Cup, he could well earn himself another cheque in the race.
Known for loving a wet track, the Cummings stable will be hoping that there is a lot of rain about that can give this boy his chance on his favourite type of ground.
On a good track, it is hard to see him featuring against some of these classy horses, but on a wet track, this gives him his best chance to feature at some part of the race.
3. Vow And Declare (4) (T. D. O'Brien/J: J. Mott/W: 57kg)
The 2019 Melbourne Cup winner won the very messy event last year, coming from just behind the pace and up against the rail to hold off everything to his outer but not found that form again since and will have to carry 57kg if he were to repeat last year's doses.
What we do know, is that he has a great set of lungs and can run this race right out if they set a tempo in front. There is a chance as we saw last year that he could be dug out of the machines to take that forward role, and make this a genuinely run affair to try and out stay his rivals.
I can't have him in the numbers and it would be a shock to see him feature.
4. Master Of Reality (11) (T: J. O'Brien/J: B. Melham/W: 56kg)
The talk of last year's race, with Frankie Dettori in the saddle, he caused a lot of interference to both Vow And Declare and Il Paradiso to his inside. He made the running in the event and showed nice acceleration off a slow speed, but has shown to be adaptable off tempos that are a little quicker as well.
The six-year-old comes into the race with better form than what he had shown last year, finishing a short-half-head second in the Irish St Leger trial, and then subsequently dominating a Group Three event.
Master Of Reality handles Australian racing conditions and with Ben Melham in the saddle, must be considered a chance once again.
5. Sir Dragonet (14) (T: C. Maher & D. Eustace/J: G. Boss/W: 55.5kg)
The 2020 Cox Plate winner put all the haters away when winning the greatest two minutes in sport emphatically on a rain effected surface.
We have seen the Cox Plate a strong form reference in recent years, but this year's event did look to have two main hopes heading to the Melbourne Cup albeit the consensus is that he will be well suited in a Melbourne Cup with seemingly great ability to stay.
He does need a wet track to show his best though as he loves to get the hoof into the ground. Any rain about (ssems unlikely), and this boy must go up in your selections.
6: Twilight Payment (12) (T: J. O'Brien/J: J. McNeil/W: 55.5kg)
Twilight Payment contested the 2019 Melbourne Cup and did set the tempo with Master Of Reality but finished 11th and just under four lengths off the winner on the line.
He's arguably in better touch this year, beating Master Of Reality in the Curragh Cup and finishing a close third in the Irish St Leger behind Search For A Song and Ebor winner Fujaira Prince.
Twilight Payment does seem to lack a little bit of class ton some of these horses, so a pace making role could be what this horse is brought over for.
7: Verry Elleegant (15) (T: C. Waller/J: M. Zahra/W. 55.5kg)
This six-time Group One winner looks weighted to a treat in the 2020 Melbourne Cup based off what she has done on the track and allthough she has to carry a big weight for a mare, did beat home Anthony Van Dyck in the Caulfield Cup and was coming away from him on the line, showing that the 3200m could well suit.
Verry Elleegant had a lot in her favour in that race, including the soft track which we know she loves.
With the track likely to be in the Good range, there could be a few horses who can catch up to her over the longer trip and on their more favourable ground.
8: Mustajeer (2) (T: K. Lees/J: M. Rodd/W: 55kg)
Mustajeer has not been in great form this preparation despite catching the eye somewhat when running home in the Caulfield Cup.
In saying that, it was a similar performance last year before a flop in the Melbourne Cup, so it is hard to take any confidence with him into the two mile event.
He was in good form over the Autumn on rain effected tracks, running well against the likes of Verry Elleegant and Avilius, but on anything other than a heavy surface, it is hard to see this horse finishing inside the top 10.
9: Stratum Albion (9) (T: W. Mullins/J: J. Childs/W: 55kg)
The eight-year-old has shown some great staying ability over the jumps and flat in Europ and brings a similar profile to a horse such as Max Dynamite who was a hurdler before his first campaign in Australia, then subsequently performed well in the great race.
His last start was a second placing behind Enbihaar in the Lonsdale Cup, a great stayer over in Europe, so that form is not to be over looked.
It is always hard to say that a hurdler is a great chance in the Melbourne Cup, but we have seen this formula work well in previous years, especially from the Mullins stable.
10: Dashing Willoughby (19) (T: A. Balding/J: M. Walker/W: 54.5kg)
He came over to Australia with some promising form behind him, with a win over Spanish Mission and a a fourth placing in the Lonsdale Cup (beaten by Stratum Albion).
Dashing Willoughby ran in the Caulfield Cup and seemed to be pulled up, whether that was because he did not handle Caulfield or was wanting two miles, I am not sure.
After that run, you would think Michael Walker would be regretting hopping off Prince Of Arran, but the thing in this horses favour is that he has natural speed and was always going to be better suited over two miles.
11: Finche (6) (T: C. Waller/J: J. McDonald/W: 54.5kg)
This honest son of Frankely was good in the Caulfield Cup after being three-wide for the entirety of the race, yet still showing some resistance at the end.
He has no turn of foot, but a great lung capacity and would be well suited if the race was run at a fast clip.
Finche finished fourth in the race two years ago, and not too far off them last year, but to be a winning chance, he wants them to go quick. If they sit up for the race, these horses have a better turn of foot than him, and although his form looks reasonably strong, desperately needs the race shape to suit.
12: Prince Of Arran (1) (T: C. Fellows/J: J. Kah/W: 54.5kg)
One of Australia's adopted favourites having finished in the placings in the last two Melbourne Cups after having won lead-up races in the last two years to get him into the race, but having assured himself a start this year, he arguably gets his best chance to win now on a more preferred route.
With a new jockey in the saddle in Jamie Kah who is arguably Australia's best rider at present, Prince Of Arran finished fourth in the Caulfield Cup, but closed off with great splits.
As a proven international in Australia and with a winnable weight, it would be a barave move to leave him out of the numbers
13: Surprise Baby (7) (T: P. Preusker/J: C. Williams/W: 54.5kg)
Surprise Baby is the top pick for me coming into the race third-up and is a proven stayer, showing that in the 2019 Adelaide Cup when stepping up from the 2000m to the 3200m in just his first campaign.
He found himself in last years edition of the Melbourne Cup, having won the Bart Cummings leading up the race and after settling last, was not entitled to finish as close as he did off a slow tempo,
Back bigger and better this time around and with two blowout runs under his belt, watch for the Surpise Baby to rocket down the outside under Craig Williams.
14: King Of Leogrance (18) (T: D'O'Brien/J: D. Lane/W: 53.5kg)
Early in the year, this boy was your Melbourne Cup favourite having won the Adelaide Cup before tackling the Andrew Ramsden where he finished second.
King Of Leogrance was not seen again until the Turnbull Stakes where he was in need of the ru but it was a more positive performance in the Geelong Cup when making a great run up along the rain but simply being beaten by two better horses.
Although he loves Flemington, it is very hard to see him beating some of these high class internationals and turning the tables on Steel Prince.
15: Russian Camelot (16) (T: D. O'Brien/J: D. Oliver/W: 53.5kg)
The exciting Russian Camelot was the favourite for the 2020 Melbourne Cup for the last few months, but after his defeat in the Cox Plate, has now drifted to double figures and I do have a few horses ahead of him in the pecking order now as ultimately, he is six months away from being everything we hoped he would be.
There's no doubting he is well and truly up to open age Group One class though, as he has shown all preparation when finishing runner-up twice at and winning the Underwood Stakes easily.
He went around as the heaviliy supported favourite in the Cox Plate and finished third behind Sir Dragonet and Armory, two horses who are world class but again, he was ridden close to the pace and expect his race pattern to look a lot different in the Melbourne Cup, where he will likely conserve his energy early.
16: Steel Prince (21) (T: A & S. Freedman/J: W. Pike/W: 53kg)
The 2020 Geelong Cup winner earned himself a one kilo penalty to find himself in the final field of the Melbourne Cup.
He was admirable performer last year, earning a cheque for his owners with a ninth-place finish and again, that looks his most likely finishing position (5th-10th) although he is in much better form this time around.
Steel Prince loves a fight, so this could help see him finish closer to fourth than 10th and he gets a lot of conditions to favour him with the good weather leading up to the race also is a tick but appears to the lack the class of a genuine winning chance.
17. The Chosen One (5) (T: M. Baker & A. Forsman/J: D. Stackhouse/W: 53.5kg)
He shocked many with a third-place finish in the Caulfield Cup at huge odds in what was a big form reversal off his prior two performances this spring.
The first-up win at Flemington was fantastic with a big weight but he did not find anything like that form in the Underwood or Herbert Power, so the consistency is a definite concern.
The Chosen One was well beaten in the 2019 Melbourne Cup and even though he comes off solid Caulfield Cup lead-in, I'm against him repeating those heroics, or improving enough to be in the mix here.
18: Ashrun (24) (T: A. Wohler/J: D. Bates/W: 52kg)
Ashrun was very good in the Geelong Cup, proving the eye-catcher when storming home from the back of the field for an eventual fourth-place finish.
That forced their hand to run in the Lexus on Derby Day, where he won on the line in what was five lengths faster than the class average to book his palce in the 2020 Melbourne Cup.
Any rain about would greatly enhance his chances, but on a three-day back-up, I'm happy to risk him at the current quote against much stronger opposition.
19: Warning (8) (T: A & S. Freedman/J: L. Currie/W: 53kg)
Warning has been great this spring and would love a down pour of rain to be in the finish, but that does seem unlikely with a warm forecast for Tuesday.
He has come back in his four-year-old season as a much bigger and stronger horse, with a super run in the Turnbull Stakes which is Verry Elleegant form before a fair effort in the Caulfield Cup, a track he does not get around that well.
Flemington is a monster tick in his favour and has minor claims at big odds depsite a predicted firm surface.
20: Etah James (22) (T: C. Maher & D. Eustace/J: B. Egan/W: 52.5kg)
The Maher & Eustace stable are getting more prominent in the spring features so I would not put this past them with just about any entrant.
Although Etah James not look a factor whatsoever in the 2020 Melbourne Cup, she did win the Sydney Cup when beating The Chosen One, who did place in the 2020 Caulfield Cup, so the form is okay.
She likely lacks the class to threaten but the last start Moonee Valley Cup effort was fine and could be one that perform s a little better than a big starting price indicates as a proven performer over the two miles.
21: Tiger Moth (23) (T: A. O'Brien/J: K. McEvoy/W: 52.5kg)
The 2020 Melbourne Cup favourite has the x-factor and the perfect profile to win this as a lighty-raced Northen Hemisphere three-year-old who won in such dominant fashion last start.
Although that victory was just at Group Three level, he put a big space on his rivals and lapped up the 2400m so the two miles looks as if it will suit and getting Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle can only be a positive.
With the light weight, a second placing to Santiago in an Irish Derby (a high class galloper), Tiger Moth is one of the two horses to beat with perhaps the only dampner being barrier 23.
22: Oceanex (17) (T: M. Price & M. Kent Jnr/J: D. Yendall/W: 51.5kg)
She won her way into the race earlier in the year with a victory in the Andrew Ramsden over King Of Leogrance where to the surprise of many, proved that she can stay when letting down with a turn of foot over 2800m.
Her form this time in has just has not been as good as the autumn albeit was fair last start in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup when running third.
It is too hard to see her turning the tables on Miami Bound from that event, who does look an outsider in the race herself.
23: Miami Bound (13) (T: D. O'Brien/J: D. Moor/W: 51kg)
She finally bounced back to some great form with a win in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup last week, when running away from her opposition with ease over the 2500m.
Miami Bound loves Flemington and is sure to stay all day, but when tested against genuine Group One opposition, hsas failed, which has to linger in your thoughts when assessing whether she is a live winning chance in the 2020 Melbourne Cup.
The daughter of Reliable Man likely needed a soft track to give her any chance, which she won't get so I'm happy to look around her.
24: Persan (20) (T: C. Maher & D. Eustace/ J: M. Dee/W: 51kg)
The very consistent Persan won The Bart Cummings which guaranteed his place in the 2020 Melbourne Cup and although he's seemingly been up forever, just keeps showing up.
A standing applause is due for the Maher & Eustace stable for the way they have handled this horse from falling as a two-year-old with another yard to running in a Melbourne Cup 18 months later and did only break his maiden in May.
Although it would be one of the great Melbourne Cup stories if they were to prevail, this looks a bridge too far.
Selections (Based on a good 3 - soft 5)
- Surprise Baby
- Tiger Moth
- Prince Of Arran
- Stratum Albion
- Master Of Reality
Selections (Based on a soft 6 and worse)
- Verry Eleegant
- Sir Dragonet
- Tiger Moth
- Surprise Baby
- Stratum Albion