On the first Tuesday of November 24 horses will battle it out to win the Melbourne Cup, however in the recent acceptances we still had 35 runners vying for a starting position in the race.
Pro Group Racing takes you through our top picks, who to watch and our best roughy so you have all the information you need to know when it comes to backing your Melbourne Cup horse.
Melbourne Cup Best Bets
5yo Bay Gelding
You can’t do a preview of the Melbourne Cup and pick potential winners without being up front and saying Incentivise probably has the best chance of winning the race.
Now with the Peter Moody stable, Incentivise failed to fire on the first two starts to his career and hasn’t looked back since going 9 unbeaten with three Group 1’s already in the Spring including the Makybe Diva Stakes, Turnbull Stakes and more recently the Caulfield Cup.
Having started life in Queensland under the management of Toowoomba trainer Steve Tregea, Incentivise caught the eye early when winning his first 6 wins by an average of 5 lengths and quickly moved to the top of betting for the Melbourne Cup.
That triggered interest from prominent owners Kheir and Sokolski who bought shares in the horse and transferred training to Moody in Victoria where Incentivise continued to progress in his following three starts.
The race that really makes you wonder if anything can beat Incentivise has got to be the Caulfield Cup win which he won with pure arrogance.
Having jumped from the widest ally the five year old had no choice but to roll along in front, even hitting the first bend nearly 6 wide. Incentivise had to continue to cover the extra ground and even into the final straight had to travel wide having shaken off the other early pacemakers.
When he hit the straight though there was nothing but a blitz, having covered extra ground throughout he was still able to let down and click through the gears showing he had plenty in the tank to compete over 3200m.
Melbourne Cup Verdict:
It's hard to see anything beating Incentivise from at home or abroad and the only question now is how will the weight factor, carrying the 57.5kgs is a matching Makybe Diva levels of greatness, but if any runner can do it Incentivise has the best chance.
5yo Bay Stallion
\The main danger that could stop Incentivise winning the 2021 Melbourne Cup is the main European hope in Spanish Mission for the Andrew Balding stable in Kingsclere, Great Britain.
Without having shot the lights out on paper, registering just one win in six starts, Spanish Mission’s form reads better when you consider the calibre of field and level of racing competed in.
Those races while mainly on British soil do include a trip to the Dubai World Cup racing festival where he finished 9.5l of Subjectivist, who gapped the field by 5 lengths and a narrow defeat to Irish horse Gifts of Gold in Riyadh on the all weather.
The run that without doubt made both bookies and handicappers sit bolt upright was Spanish Missions run in the Group 1 Lonsdale Cup at York over 3270m against a horse called Stradivarius.
Stradivarius has been one of the highest rated racehorses in the world and was going for 4 straight Lonsdale Cups and Spanish Mission pushed the champion all the way, even heading the great Stradivarius in the home straight before losing in a head bobbing finish.
Melbourne Cup Verdict:
If Spanish Mission can bring his recent form down under then the Melbourne Cup is set to be a barn burner between the top Aussie prospect and the top European chance and should be another one fighting out the finish.
The form lines are hard to stack up between the two runners but if you’re looking for a chance with a bit more value then Spanish Mission is the one to watch.
9yo Bay Gelding
Twilight Payment was the winner of the 2020 Melbourne Cup, which took place behind close doors due to the Covid-19 restrictions last year.
The win crowned a 7th Melbourne Cup win for owner Lloyd Williams and a second for trainer Joseph O’Brien who had won the race 2 years prior for Williams with young distance horse, Rekindling.
Twilight Payments win was a huge front running performance where jockey Jye McNeil took the then eight year old to the front and never relinquished the lead from start to finish only having to stave off late pressure from fellow Irish horse Tiger Moth.
After the 2020 Melbourne Cup Twilight Payment struggled for form in the British and Irish Spring and according to co-owner Nick Williams they nearly called time on the old warhorses career having achieved over $5m in prize money.
However, come the Spring Twilight Payment returned to his best when winning the Group 3 Irish St Ledger Trial Stakes over 2816m carrying a whopping 62kgs. Seven kilos more than his emphatic Melbourne Cup win.
Following that and carrying the same weight the Lloyd Williams runner finished second to Sonnyboyliston in the Group 1 Irish St Ledger when the pair cleared out from the rest of the pack.
Melbourne Cup Verdict:
One of the best hopes for Lloyd Williams to see his Macedon Lodge stable go back to back in Melbourne Cups having won with Twilight Payment, Almandin and Rekindling the past few years.
The age of the runner and weight does raise clear concerns however he is a front runner and if he is left to his own devices up front again he could be leading all the way again.
One To Watch
Every year when the Melbourne Cup field is assembled it is difficult for any punter to line up international and local form which means there are always a handful of runners to keep an eye out for. We whittle it down to our top runner to watch.
6yo Brown Mare
You can’t have the Melbourne Cup and forget about the quality of Verry Elleegant for the Chris Waller stable.
Ran well late in the Turnbull Stakes without landing a glove on Incentivise. On that occasion you could argue that she was bumped by Young Werther for the Danny O’Brien stable and also the jockey struggled to get the whip free on the key run in up the straight.
There was a lot more to like about her run in the Cox Plate where she drew wide and took a sit at the back of the field before having to circle all 8 runners to mount a challenge in the straight while the first and second horse enjoyed cheeky runs up the inside rail.
While State of Rest and Anamoe were already off and away, Verry Elleegant finished off really well but only got going at the 2000m mark with 40m left in the race.
She’s had an interesting Spring overall after having such a strong Autumn campaign and it makes us wonder if the Melbourne Cup has always been the 6 year olds goal for the campaign. Going on her 2020 form you thought she might never lose.
Melbourne Cup Verdict:
You can’t count out Verry Elleegant as she has the talent to deliver on the biggest of stages. Admittedly, as yet she has failed to replicate the form she showed as a five year old but her run in the Cox Plate was impressive to loop the field and finish with a bit in the tank.
How much is in the tank is yet to be seen but has the talent to be in the finish with the best of the best.
Finally we come to our final pick in the Melbourne Cup and just purely on his form as a three year old we like the look of Explosive Jack for the Ciaran Maher and David Eustace stable.
4yo Bay Stallion
Ciaron Maher & David Eustace
Explosive Jack is our best roughie for the Melbourne Cup given his form as a three year old as well as impressive performances up until the Caulfield Cup where he failed to fire over the 2400m.
To be fair we can forgive him that run in a quickly run affair he got back in the field and never got near the leaders being wound down when coming to the line in 17th place.
What we do like is the run in the Turnbull Stakes where the field were once again chasing conformist home. On this occasion there were a couple of key runs and whilst finishing fifth he was the only one to gain ground on the leader in the closing stages and hit the line well.
On that occasion Explosive Jack was carrying 0.5kgs more than Incentivise, while this time around he’ll meet the Melbourne Cup favourite 4kgs lighter and could be producing an even bigger finish late and over the distance.
When we marry that race up against his impressive performances in the Derby’s a year prior where he won 2 out of the major Derby races and placed in a 3rd at Group 1 level it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out if he can be close in the straight late.
Melbourne Cup Verdict:
At the price we think Explosive Jack presents great each way value, especially with bookmakers offering up to 5 places in betting.
Can he land a glove on our top three picks it is hard to tell, however with the low weight and solid form around the distance races you simply can’t rule him out of contention in the 2021 Melbourne Cup.
Betting Strategy For The Melbourne Cup
If you are having a punt on the race that stops the nation we recommend backing Incentivise outright to win and then playing amongst the exotics with our other picks.
A boxed quinella or trifecta of the five runners generally yield high dividends due to the betting volume of the race but also don’t forget to check out the top place finishing horses as horse to finish top 5 and top 10 can also yield great value!!