Melbourne Cup field, form and tips to help you pick the winner

They’ve come from all over the world to contest the 159th running of the Melbourne Cup. After some rain over the past few days the track is rated soft and Finche is set to start favourite. Here’s the line-up for Tuesday’s race, and a snapshot of each horse’s chances.

1. CROSS COUNTER

Trainer: Charlie Appleby

Jockey: William Buick

Weight: 57.5kg

Barrier: 5

ODDS: $15 Last year’s winner who by all accounts has come back a better and stronger horse, but he needs to be as he has been given an extra 6.5kg in weight by the handicapper. After winning the Melbourne Cup last year, he won the Dubai Gold Cup over the same distance in March. Then finished top four in his other three starts, all at Group 1 level. Comes into the race off a seven week break, afresh horse with only 12 starts to his name. Kerrin McEvoy was the winning jockey last year, but he has committed to Finche and Cross Counter will be ridden by English hoop William Buick.

2. MER DE GLACE

Trainer: Hisashi Shimizu

Jockey: Damian Lane

Weight: 56kg

Barrier 2

ODDS: $9 The Japanese five-year-old ridden by Australian jockey Damien Lane came from well back to blow away his rivals in the Caulfield Cup on October 19, a traditional lead-up to the Melbourne Cup. The query is whether he can run the distance as the 2400m of the Caulfield Cup is the furthest he has been, He also copped a weight penalty for winning that race and has been asked to carry 56kg. Lane sticks with the horse and will be hoping the track dries out after weekend rain.

Damian Lane, who rides Japanese horse Mer De Glace, is aiming to become the first jockey to win the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup in one year. Source: Getty Images

3. MASTER OF REALITY

Trainer: Joseph O’Brien

Jockey: Frankie Dettori

Weight: 55.5kg

Barrier: 1

ODDS: $23 Will race close to the lead, so won’t need to do much work from barrier 1 to get a good position. Weighted up to his best which he hasn’t produced in his last couple of starts. He will have no trouble running the distance but may not have the speed to win a sprint to the line, despite the services of world renowned jockey Frankie Dettori.

4. MIRAGE DANCER

Trainers: Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young

Jockey: Ben Melham

Weight: 55.5kg

Barrier: 13

ODDS: $34 Cranbourne based trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young sought out this well-performed British galloper after consistently good runs in the UK. He ran a great third in the Caulfield Cup (2400m) on debut in Australia, after not having much luck. But the 2400m, which he has never ran beyond, had been seen as his optimum trip, so there is a question mark over him being able to run a strong 3200m.

5. SOUTHERN FRANCE

Trainers: Ciaron Maher and David Eustace

Jockey: Mark Zahra

Weight: 55.5kg

Barrier 14

ODDS: $21 Melbourne trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace bought this promising stayer from champion Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien to race him in the Cup. He only arrived in Australia a few weeks ago but Maher is pleased with how he has settled in. At his last start in September, Southern France finished strongly for third place in the Irish St Ledger (2816m), beating home four other Cup rivals.

6. HUNTING HORN

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Jockey: Seamie Heffernan

Weight: 55kg

Barrier: 11

ODDS: $34 As one of Aidan O’Brien’s three runners, Hunting Horn’s usual role in weight-for-age races around the world of up to 2400m is that of the pacemaker, where he leads the field at a solid pace and then drops away late in the race. At his first run in Australia in the Mooney Valley Cup on October 26, he was allowed to settle back and run his own race. He finished strongly and won. This is a much stronger race and he has never raced beyond 2500m.

Hunting Horn, ridden by Ryan Moore, wins the Moonee Valley Cup in October. Source: Getty Images.

7. LATROBE

Trainer: Joseph O’Brien

Jockey: James McDonald

Weight 55kg

Barrier: 7

ODDS: $21 He is a class galloper who has gradually been building towards this race. Latrobe was nominated for the Cup last year but owner Lloyd Williams thought he wasn’t ready and ran him in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on the last day of the Flemington carnival where he finished a close second. In his last start he was sixth in the Group 1 Irish St Ledger (2816m) when racing near the lead, before facing in the last 100. He won a 2800m Group 3 in Ireland before that. He has drawn a bad gate for the Cup and may have to do much work early to still be strong at the finish.

8. MUSTAJEER

Trainer: Kris Lees

Jockey: Damien Oliver

Weight: 55kg

Barrier: 6

ODDS: $17 Bought by Australian owners for this race, he has plenty going for him. He won the UK’s richest handicap, The Ebor, which is traditionally a good guide for the Cup. Then in his first Australian run finished strongly to place sixth in the Caulfield Cup. He has plenty of weight and would need to improve again on his Caulfield Cup, but has drawn a nice barrier making the job easier for three-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver.

9. ROSTROPOVICH

Trainers: D & B Hayes, Tom Dabernig

Jockey: Dwayne Dunn

Weight: 55kg

Barrier: 12

ODDS: $81 He ran fifth in both the Cup and Cox Plate last year for Aidan O’Brien when young and inexperienced. He switched over to the Australian stable of David Hayes earlier this year and would have been expected to be a top contender for the race, but has been out of form. He had excuses in the Caulfield Cup when 16th, will be better suited at Flemington and may bounce back.

10. TWILIGHT PAYMENT

Trainer: Joseph O’Brien

Jockey: Hugh Bowman

Weight: 55kg

Barrier: 19

ODDS: $51 One of three horses trained by Joseph O’Brien and owned by Australian racing tycoon Lloyd Williams. That partnership won the race in 2017, also has Winx’s jockey Hugh Bowman on board. Appears way over the odds after winning two of his past three starts in Ireland, albeit in weaker grade.

11. FINCHE

Trainer: Chris Waller

Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy

Weight: 54kg

Barrier: 4

ODDS: $8 Last year’s winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy opted to ride this horse early on despite the 2018 winner Cross Counter running again. The Cup has been a long-term target for Finche after running fourth last year, his only run over 2500m. Champion trainer Chris Waller, who has just won the Everest and Golden Eagle, has him well prepared as was evident with a gallant fifth in the Caulfield Cup, and barrier four will help him get into a great position to run well.

12. PRINCE OF ARRAN

Trainer: Charlie Fellowes

Jockey: Michael Walker

Weight: 54kg

Barrier: 8

ODDS: $17 Finished third in the Cup last year and appears to be going just as well. Didn’t achieved a lot during the year during Dubai and England but his stable were reportedly just content to get him fit for another trip to Melbourne. And once back on Australian soil he has thrived, finished second in the Herbert Power and first in the Geelong Cup, both over 2400m. That win secured him another Cup start, with just 1kg more than what he had last year. Has drawn well and has top NZ hoop Michael Walker aboard.

Prince of Arran finished third in the Melbourne Cup of 2018, and warmed up for another shot at the Cup with victory in the Geelong Cup. Source: AAP Images.

13. RAYMOND TUSK

Trainer: Richard Hannon

Jockey: Jamie Spencer

Weight: 54kg

Barrier: 3

ODDS: $21 Convinced connections to take him to Melbourne after an unlucky fourth in the Ebor Handicap behind Mustajeer. Australian syndicates tried to buy him to contest the Cup, but the British owners decided they would keep him and race him themselves in the great Australian handicap. Hasn’t won for over a year but seems to be well in at the weights and has top British jockey Jamie Spencer in the saddle.

14. DOWNDRAFT

Trainer: Joseph O’Brien

Jockey: John Allen

Weight 53.5kg

Barrier: 15

ODDS: $21 Secured his spot with a convincing win in the Hotham Handicap at Flemington on Saturday. Has to back up after just three days but plenty of horses have done it and ran well including Prince of Arran who ran third last year. From his past five starts, he has won three and placed twice. Downdraft hasn’t taken on the strongest fields – but winning form is good form and he drops 5.5kgs on Saturday’s win.

15. MAGIC WAND

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Jockey: Ryan Moore

Weight: 53.5kg

Barrier: 24

ODDS: $26 Is the class horse of the race after running fourth behind Japanese star Lys Gracieux in the Cox Plate. She drops 3.5kgs from that race and will probably be in the finish if she can stay the 3200m, and gets a dry track. But it is a big if. She races in top-class 2000-2400m races around the world. She has drawn the outside gate, so won’t get an easy run, and may be found out in the final stages of the race.

16. NEUFBOSC

Trainers: D & B Hayes, Tom Dabernig

Jockey: Luke Nolen

Weight: 53.5kg

Barrier: 23

ODDS: $151 Looks like starting the outsider of the field at huge odds. Had good form in top-class races in Europe up to 2400m but since coming to Australia to join the Hayes stable, has not reproduced that form. In fact he has run terrible in his five Australian starts.

17. SOUND

Trainer: Michael Moroney

Jockey: Jamie Winks

Weight: 53.5kg

Barrier 10

ODDS: $101 Will also be at big odds but has run well in his past two starts. He was badly impeded in the straight in the Caulfield Cup, and should have finished much closer. Before that he ran to the line well at weight-for-age level, and at least seems to be going better than last year when he was 18th in the Cup. He has good 3200m form in Europe, but that was 18 months ago.

18. SURPRISE BABY

Trainer: Paul Preusker

Jockey: Jordan Childs

Weight: 53.5kg

Barrier: 20

ODDS: $12 What a great story if this $5500 bargain gets up. He’s trained in the bush at Horsham in Victoria by country trainer Paul Preusker who does all his fitness work for the horse at his property. He was bred in New Zealand but is emerging as the classic Aussie battler taking on the international raiders. Hasn’t had many lead-up races. Won the Adelaide Cup at his sixth start in March. Then won at Flemington impressively a month ago, before going back to the farm to prepare for the Cup.

Surprise Baby has had a rapid rise to the Melbourne Cup after being bought for just $5500. source: AAP.

19. CONSTANTINOPLE

Trainers: D & B Hayes, Tom Dabernig

Jockey: Joao Moreira

Weight: 52.5kg

Barrier: 7

ODDS: $9 Fits the profile of the past two winners – a promising European three-year-old that gets into the race at a light weight. But unlike the past two winners, Rekindling and Cross Counter, he has the benefit of an Australian run before the Cup – a fast finishing fourth. He hasn’t run past 2400m, but either did Johannes Vermeer who was a narrow runner-up and the Hayes stable expect him to be suited to Flemington.

20. IL PARADISO

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Jockey: Wayne Lordan

Weight: 52.5kg

Barrier: 17

ODDS: $15 Has the right profile to win the Cup. As a European three-year-old he gets in with a light weight, has been prepared for the race by master Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien and has performed impressively over two miles in Europe. He won a lower-class 3200m race In Ireland before matching it with Europe’s best stayers, Stradivarius and Dee Ex Bee, in the Lonsdale Cup in England. Has an awkward barrier but should go well.

21. STEEL PRINCE

Trainer: Anthony Freedman

Jockey: Brett Prebble

Weight: 52.5kg

Barrier: 16

ODDS: $67 A Melbourne-trained horse who won a start in the Cup with a nose victory over Surprise Baby in a qualifying race at Flemington over 2800m back in June. That was his fifth win a row, but all against lower grade Australian stayers. Then during the spring he ran some OK races and shorter distances while building his fitness up. He was disappointing in the Geelong Cup at his last start. Regular rider Damien Oliver chose the ride of Mustajeer instead for the Cup, but 2012 Cup winner Brett Prebble gets onboard.

22. THE CHOSEN ONE

Trainers: Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman

Jockey: Tim Clark

Weight: 52kg

Barrier: 18

ODDS: $81 This Kiwi import has proven a good horse over 2400m, including a strong win in the Herbert Power two starts back, but is a risk at 3200m. He raced on Saturday over the 2500m of the Hotham Cup to get him fit for the two miles of the Cup, but he went poorly due to over-racing in the early stages of the Cup. Connections have opted to forgive that run and push on for the Cup, but would need massive improvement to be a chance.

Vow And Declare will fly the flag for the locals when he takes on a strong international field in the Cup. Source: AAP

23. VOW AND DECLARE

Trainer: Danny O’Brien

Jockey: Craig Williams

Barrier: 21

Weight: 52kg

ODDS: $11 A genuine Aussie hope who showed during the Brisbane carnival that he is suited to the 3200m of the Cup with an impressive win over 3000m in the Tattersall’s Cup. That was a much lower grade race nut highlighted the horse’s potential as a stayer. Has been trained on since then, only needing two lead-up races in the Spring ahead of the Cup. He produced a great second in the Caulfield Cup and will only have improved. Has drawn badly but has a smart jockey to overcome that.

24. YOUNGSTAR

Trainer: Chris Waller

Jockey: Tommy Berry

Weight: 52kg

Barrier: 9

ODDS: $34 Ran well last year in the Cup, finishing sixth. Not going as well this year but her last-start third over 2600m in the St Ledger at Randwick wasn’t bad. That was a weaker field than what she meets in the Cup so has the task ahead despite the light weight and good barrier draw.

TIPS

13 RAYMOND TUSK

23 VOW AND DECLARE

20 IL PARADISO

5 SOUTHERN FRANCE