Hello, punters and welcome to The Tunnel’s 2014 Melbourne Cup form guide.
As any TV pundit will tell you, the trick to being a tipster is to be knowledgeable about every horse in a race, then tip the first three favourites.
Here at The Tunnel, we at least try to be entertaining before tipping the favourites.
So, without further ado, The Tunnel’s Ed previews the 2014 Melbourne Cup.
1. ADMIRE RAKTI
Part Godzilla, part Pokemon, Admire Rakti is the ultimate in Japanese racing technology. Except that, after winning the Caulfield Cup like a Shinkansen, the Japan Racing Association has ranked Admire Rakti the 21st(!!!) best stayer in their country. Like some sort of Michael Bay directed nightmare, there are 20 faster robot horse-monsters in Japan ready to plunder our racing riches whenever the Evil Boss gives the word. Last time I checked, Australia doesn’t even have 20 good stayers to rank. Be very afraid, punters. But make sure you back Admire Rakti first.
Remember the good old days of 2012? Gangnam Style. Carly Rae Jepsen. Somebody That I Used to Know. And Tony Abbott wasn’t Prime Minister!
Back in 2012 I wrote a sparkling form appraisal of the Godolphin (boo, hiss!) owned Cavalryman that incorporated references to both Jane Austen and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (and they say Austen and zombies is cutting edge.) Two years later, Cavalryman is still winning races so, if you wish it was 2012 again, go for it.
Last year’s Caulfield Cup winner and the best chance of the two runners owned (but definitely not trained – cough!) by battling Aussie millionaire Lloyd Williams. At his last start, Fawkner ran a brave placing to a younger horse in the Cox Plate, the same formline as last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente. An attractive grey, Fawkner never travels without a hot date, as the photo below attests. Like the women at his side, Fawkner is sure to have plenty of admirers on Cup Day.
4. RED CADEAUX
The Cad is back! After running second in last year’s Cup when completely off his tits, Europe’s premier playboy racehorse is back to prove that age and a fondness for gin are no barriers to success. Sure, Red Cadeaux’s form this year is middling, but it was last year too. If all goes to plan, the Cad will be drunk by race time, make a pass at Fawkner’s strapper, run a bottler in the Cup and hit the tables at Crown Casino with at least one of Tony Abbott’s daughters. Now that’s a stayer.
Angela Merkel’s bridge partner and Bob Katter’s favourite racehorse, Protectionist is a German stereotype on four legs. Dour, relentless and a winner, Protectionist was controversially omitted from the German World Cup squad after criticizing manager Joachim Löw’s taste in cashmere sweaters. Finished hard for fourth at his only Australian run and is by the same sire as last year’s winner Fiorente. But we didn’t tip Fiorente last year so we couldn’t tip Protectionist. Or could we?
6. SEA MOON
You know how it is when you are crazy about someone and then you split up and you see the object of your affection a year later and you go “What the hell was I thinking???” Well, I tipped the Lloyd Williams-owned Sea Moon to win last year’s Melbourne Cup. The horse went poorly and he’s run even worse both times this spring. What the hell was I thinking???
Former fast German horse who is now a slow English horse. When Craig Newitt went for the whip in the Caulfield Cup he dead set looked like he was on a rocking horse the way Seismos stood there and everything zoomed away. Could only beat Admire Rakti if he was given a stick and the Japanese horse promised not to move.
This year’s Metropolitan winner, Junoob came to even greater prominence when Bronwyn Bishop confusedly announced he should be banned from Parliament. At his most recent start, Junoob was respectable in the Caulfield Cup, which is tipster code for “won’t win next time”.
9. ROYAL DIAMOND
One of many Europeans in the race with a generic adjective-noun name. Won the Irish St Leger in 2012 when Carly Rae Jepsen was in her heyday. Like the Canadian songstress, Royal Diamond has had a much lower profile since. His distant sixth in this year’s Irish St Leger suggests a comeback isn’t on the cards any time soon.
You know Lloyd Williams is doing it tough when he only has two horses in the Melbourne Cup and Simon O’Donnell (yes, the cricketer) has four. Gatewood, a Euro owned by O’Donnell’s OTI Racing, won the Geelong Cup in 2012 (naturally) then left Australia when he couldn’t cut it here the following autumn. Quitter! And now Gatewood has jetted back and expects us to like him in the 2014 Melbourne Cup? Where’s this border protection we read so much about?
11. MUTUAL REGARD
As you might have noticed, this year’s Melbourne Cup has more European grinders than the New Farm coffee strip. Another adjective-noun Euro but according to the market (and a racing friend who backed him when he won the Ebor Handicap at York at 20-1) Mutual Regard is the best of them. Has two wins at 3200 metres, has Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver aboard and is Irish, so what’s not to like?
12. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN
If you’re wondering why there’s no space in “Thebarman” it’s because Australian racehorse names can’t have more than 18 characters. If you’re wondering why forty-something men with beards are tipping Who Shot Thebarman, it’s because the horse has the New Zealand two mile formlines that were all the rage back in 1990. But, heck, it’s not even 2012 any more. One for hipster nostalgists.
13. WILLING FOE
Godolphin owned (boo, hiss again!) stayer who was beaten in England last start by Seismos. Can only imagine Seismos was allowed to start the race a couple of minutes beforehand. Red Cadeaux apparently calls Willing Foe “Willem Defoe” because it pisses him off. And it’s also pretty funny, especially if you’ve been drinking with stablehands and/or Tony Abbott’s daughters all night.
14. MY AMBIVALENT
Eccentric European mare with the personality of Kate Bush. Is said to have impressed her trainer since arriving in Australia by not wanting to train. Is actually called Ambivalent, which means “don’t care”. But because there’s an Australian horse called Ambivalent, she will race as My Ambivalent or “I don’t care”. Precisely.
One of the trickiest parts of writing this form guide each year is coming up with a new way to persuade Bart Cummings tragics that Precedence can’t win the Melbourne Cup. But there’s no telling rusted-on disciples of the Cups King that a horse who has never run a place in the Cup in three goes, doesn’t run a strong two miles and who put in a shocker last start at Moonee Valley can’t win the Melbourne Cup this year. So why would I bother?
The Queensland Derby winner in 2012 – do you see a pattern here? – who sounds like he should be a pony walking kids around the oval at the school fete. Prior to a disappointing ninth in the Mackinnon Stakes on Saturday, OTI’s Brambles had run some respectable races this spring. There’s that word “respectable” again.
17. MR O’CEIRIN
Under-performing local (via New Zealand) who hasn’t run a place in six months. Distance query, class query and “What the hell is it running in the Melbourne Cup?” query. As Australia’s greatest philosopher Gus Gould is wont to say: no, no, no, no!
18. AU REVOIR
Yet another OTI runner, Au Revoir is a French-named, French import who couldn’t be more French unless he rode a bicycle, smoked and complained constantly about the result of the last rugby union World Cup. Don’t get me wrong, I like French imports in the Cup – and god bless him, Dunaden even won for us. But tipping you Au Revoir would be as hokey as telling you to back something called Team Australia. And no one with any credibility would ever do that.
Plural of Lidarus (whatever that is), the OTI-owned Lidari would be a huge chance if the Melbourne Cup was run over one mile and all the foreign horses were scratched. Unlikely to have conditions to suit.
Everyone is entitled to have an opinion. Chris Waller’s Opinion is better than most, a former European stayer who, like a lot of opinions, won’t go away. Second in both this year’s Sydney Cup and The Metropolitan, Opinion will run the two miles right out and his last start sixth was actually a pretty good Melbourne Cup trial. Has a more respectable chance than many of the outsiders.
European import whose real name is Harold. Has a lightning bolt on his silks, which is the pattern he often runs when asked to go straight. This erratic running style could prove a masterstroke if Admire Rakti drops dead before the winning post when four lengths in front of the rest of the field. Otherwise Harold is more likely one for your trifectas and first fours.
22. LUCIA VALENTINA
Like all great Australians – Phar Lap, Russell Crowe, the pavlova – Lucia Valentina is actually a New Zealander. But not if she wins this year’s Melbourne Cup. Then she’s the Aussie heroine who kept our country safe from the marauding foreign horde. Expect Scott Morrison to use Lucia as a propaganda tool real soon. The best credentialled local, she will fly home like a duck on a jetski if it rains. If Lucia doesn’t run down Admire Rakti (or some other foreigner) in the Cup, it’s not because she lacks heart. It’s because, unlike Scott Morrison, she’s got too much of it.
23. UNCHAIN MY HEART
Aussie mare who is two from two at the Flemington 3200 metres but neither of those wins was a Melbourne Cup. Her 17th of 18 in the Caulfield Cup gives an indication of the task she faces here. But unlike some of the other locals, Unchain My Heart will at least be running on at the end. A roughie for the Joe Cocker fans out there.
A lightweight like Bill Shorten but, unlike the Opposition Leader, Signoff has plenty of admirers based on his recent performances. Won a weak-looking Lexus on Saturday but won it well. The Lexus winner usually runs well in the Cup so Signoff is likely to be prominent when it matters. Not sure if you can say the same for Bill.
THE TUNNEL SELECTS:
1 Admire Rakti
2 Lucia Valentina
3 Mutual Regard