Melbourne Cup 2021: Horse-by-horse guide to the great race

·8-min read
Jockey Jye McNeil is aiming to win back-to-back Melbourne Cups on Twlight Payment. Pic: Getty
Jockey Jye McNeil is aiming to win back-to-back Melbourne Cups on Twlight Payment. Pic: Getty

The 161st running of the Melbourne Cup serves up the shortest-price favourite seen for many decades in Queensland boom horse Incentivise. 

And unlike recent years there is no big group of international raiders here to pinch the Cup – but the two horses representing international camps, including last year’s winner, are top class.

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Check out the chances of all the runners in our Melbourne Cup form guide.

2021 Melbourne Cup – Flemington Race 7, 3pm Tuesday

1 TWILIGHT PAYMENT

9yoG

Jockey: Jye McNeil Trainer: Joseph O’Brien

Odds: $12 Barrier: 2 Weight: 58Kg

Irish horse who won the race last year in the fourth fastest time in history. Has to carry an extra 2.5kgs this year but is going just as well after winning the Irish Derby trial and then placing second in the Irish Derby, his last start before travelling to Australia.

2 INCENTIVISE

5yoG

Jockey: Brett Prebble Trainer: Peter Moody

Odds: $2.50 fav Barrier: 16 Weight 57kg

Won his first race only in April on the Sunshine Coast but hasn’t lost since. His impressive form during the Melbourne spring carnival, including a dominant last-start Caulfield Cup (2400m) victory, sees him start the shortest Melbourne Cup favourite in years.

Caulfield Cup winner Incentivise goes into the Melbourne Cup as the shortest-priced favourite since the legendary Phar Lap. Pic: Getty
Caulfield Cup winner Incentivise goes into the Melbourne Cup as the shortest-priced favourite since the legendary Phar Lap. Pic: Getty

3 SPANISH MISSION

6yoH 

Jockey: Craig Williams Trainer: Andrew Balding

Odds: $10 Barrier: 14 Weight: 57kg

In a Cup year short of international raiders this well-travelled stayer has arrived from the UK in great form. He will get back in the race but should be running home strongly. Unlike several others he will have no trouble with the distance and has a top jockey on board. 

4 VERRY ELLEEGANT

6yoM

Jockey: James McDonald Trainer: Chris Waller

Odds: $13 Barrier: 19 Weight: 57kg

Classy mare who won the Caulfield Cup last year and this year was aimed at the Cox Plate where she finished third. She has a big weight and rises 1.5 kilos on last year’s effort when she came from well back to finish seventh, but does have a top jockey and trainer in her camp.

5 EXPLOSIVE JACK

4yoH 

Jockey: John Allen Trainer: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Odds: $41 Barrier: 4 Weight: 54kg

Was the top staying three-year-old of the autumn winning the Australian and SA Derbies and finishing third in the Queensland Derby. He seemed to be ticking over nicely until a poor Caulfield Cup last start.

6 THE CHOSEN ONE

6yoH

Jockey: Damian Lane Trainer: Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman

Odds: $41 Barrier: 5 Weight: 54kg

Finished fourth last year and has placed second in the Sydney Cup over the same distance. The New Zealand-trained stayer looked great in his first three runs this spring before a disappointing 14th in the Caulfield Cup on a soft track behind Incentivise.

7 DELPHI

5yoH

Jockey: Damien Oliver Trainer: Anthony and Sam Freedman

Odds: $20 Barrier: 3 Weight: 53.5kg

With champion hoop Damien Oliver on board the imported stayer was well-fancied for the Caulfield Cup but wilted badly after trying to lead all the way. Oliver stays on board hoping the gelding can regain the form that saw him four successive races in Ireland last year.

8 OCEAN BILLY

6yoG

Jockey: Damien Thornton Trainer: Chris Waller

Odds: $91 Barrier: 13 Weight: 53.5kg

Was a strong winner back in March of the Auckland Cup, over the same distance but against weaker opposition. Warmed up for this with a well-beaten ninth in the Caulfield Cup. Returning to a dry track suits.

9 SELINO

6yoG

Jockey: Ron Stewart Trainer: Chris Waller

Odds: $61 Barrier: 24 Weight: 53.5kg

A proven European stayer who will have no trouble with the distance. He won the Sydney Cup in April, likes a dry track and is well-weighted. Was good two starts back when fourth at Flemington before running poorly in the Caulfield Cup and draws the widest barrier. 

10 JOHNNY GET ANGRY

4yoG

Jockey: Lachlan King Trainer: Denis Pagan

Odds: $151 Barrier: 22 Weight: 53kg

Trained by two-time AFL premiership coach Denis Pagan who turned his hand to racehorses and incredibly won the prestigious Victoria Derby with this horse last year. But the four-year-old has been hopelessly out of form this spring finishing near the tail of the field in each of his four races.

Johnny Get Angry earned a Melbourne Cup spot off the back of winning last year's Victoria Derby. Pic: Getty
Johnny Get Angry earned a Melbourne Cup spot off the back of winning last year's Victoria Derby. Pic: Getty

11 KNIGHTS ORDER

7yoG

Jockey: Daniel Stackhouse Trainer: Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott

Odds: $101 Barrier: 9 Weight: 53kg

Likely to try and lead as he did to win the weaker Brisbane Cup (3200m) in June, but doesn’t seem capable of keeping the lead when the pressure mounts after some poor lead-up runs this spring.

12 PERSAN

5yoG

Jockey: Luke Currie Trainer: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Odds: $34 Barrier: 11 Weight: 53kg

Prepared to peak for this race after a good third in the Caulfield Cup and fifth in the race last year. Rises 2kg in weight from last year but has drawn well.

13 CARIF

6yoG

Jockey: Blake McDougall Trainer: Peter and Paul Snowden

Odds: $126 Barrier: 8 Weight: 52.5kg

Won’t have a problem with the distance but appears hopelessly out of form. His latest effort saw him finish 12 lengths behind the winner at Randwick, in a race well below the class of the Melbourne Cup. 

14 MASTER OF WINE

7yoG

Jockey: Fred Kersley Trainer: M, J & W Hawkes

Odds: $101 Barrier: 6 Weight: 52.5kg

Good effort two starts back when third over 2500m at Flemington, but finished well back in the Caulfield cup. Drops nicely in the weights but doesn’t appear to be racing well enough to figure in the finish.

15 PONDUS

6yoG

Jockey: Rachel King Trainer: Robert Hickmott

Odds: $31 Barrier: 1 Weight: 52.5

Rachel King gets her first ride in the Cup and draws the inside barrier as Michelle Payne did in 2015 becoming the first female jockey to win the Cup. Pondus ran well in his past two Australian starts and should improve again.

16 GRAND PROMENADE

6yoG

Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy Trainer: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Odds: $16 Barrier: 21 Weight: 52kg

Qualified for the race with a dominant win in the 2500m Bart Cummings. Has drawn wide and will go forward to be close to the pressure up front. Comes from a top stable and gets in with a light weight.

Grand Promenade is seen here winning  The Lexus Bart Cummings at Flemington in 2021.
Kerrin McEvoy will ride Lexus Bart Cummings winner Grand Promenade in the Melbourne Cup. Pic: Getty

17 MIAMI BOUND

5yoM

Jockey: Patrick Moloney Trainer: Danny O’Brien

Odds: $151 Barrier: 17 Weight: 52kg

Should have no trouble with the distance but may get too far back to run into the placings. Would have preferred a wet track but is prepared by the 2019 winning trainer Danny O’Brien.

18 PORT GUILLAUME

5yoG

Jockey: Harry Coffey Trainer: Ben & JD Hayes

Odds: $126 Barrier: 23 Weight: 52kg

Finished 10th and 16th at his past two starts but may have had excuses. Has raced at the top level in France, but not beyond 2500m and would have preferred it wet.

19 SHE’S IDEEL

6yoM

Jockey: Crag Newitt Trainer: Bjorn Baker

Odds: $91 Barrier: 20 Weight: 52kg

She appears to be an improving type who will get back and be running on. Produced a great run to finish second in the Tancred Stakes over 2400m in the autumn before fourth in the Sydney Cup (3200m). Racing well without luck and appears one of a few lightweight Cup chances.

20 FUTURE SCORE

7yoG

Jockey: Dean Yendall Trainer: Matt Cumani

Odds: $101 Barrier: 15 Weight: 51.5kg

May be a doubt over the trip butt has won over 2600m here on a wet track. Finished sixth in his final lead-up run and appears out of his depth. 

21 TRALEE ROSE

5yoM

Jockey: Dean Holland Trainer: Symon Wilde

Odds: $16 Barrier: 102 Weight: 51kg

Won by seven lengths over 2800m on this track at the start of the year. Disappointed to finish fourth in the Adelaide Cup (3200m) in May when favourite. Fought hard to win the Geelong Cup at her last start, a race that had produced previous Melbourne Cup winners.

22 FLOATING ARTIST

6yoG

Jockey: Teo Nugent Trainer: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Odds: $12 Barrier: 10 Weight: 50kg

Has raced against top-class stayers in the UK and began the Melbourne spring with three wins. Ran an unlucky second at his last start and looms as great lightweight chance if he can see out the trip.

23 GREAT HOUSE

5yoG

Jockey: Michael Dee Trainer: Chris Waller

Odds: $21 Barrier: 7 Weight: 50kg

Won the 2500m Hotham Handicap on Saturday to confirm his place in the race after a 5th place in the Caulfield Cup. If he has come through that race well he shapes as a good lightweight chance and several horses in recent years have benefited from the quick back-up.

Pictured here, Great House ridden by James McDonald wins the Lexus Hotham Stakes at Flemington.
Great House goes into the Melbourne Cup on the back of a win in the Hotham Stakes at Flemington. Pic: Getty

24 SIR LUCAN

4yoC

Jockey: Glen Boss Trainer: Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott

Odds: $26 Barrier: 18 Weight: 50kg

Somewhat of a mystery horse that will have his first start in Australia and only his ninth race start. He did run a good fourth in Group 2 company in the UK in March and gets three-time winning Cup jockey Glen Boss on board.

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