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2018 Melbourne Cup tips – 14/1 and 25/1 ante-post tips for Australia’s historic handicap

A view of the runners at last year's Melbourne Cup Carnival.

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting for Australia’s most famous race and highlights two horses for punters to keep a close eye on at Flemington on Tuesday 6th November.

Britain has the Grand National, France has the Arc, America has the Kentucky Derby and Australia has the historic Melbourne Cup. “The races that stops the nation” was first staged at Flemington almost 170 years ago and has been won by some of the finest flat racers the world has ever produced. 

The 2019 Melbourne Cup champion will receive almost $4.25m, making this race one of the most lucrative contests in the world. Our expert has taken a look through the ante-post betting to try and picked out two horses he feels could challenge for the Cup in less than two weeks time.

4:00pm Flemington Lexus Melbourne Cup (Group 1 Handicap) 2m

European horses dominated last year’s race, filling five of the top six places as Rekindling handed Joseph O’Brien the biggest win of his training career. The current betting suggests European raiders could rule the roost at Flemington again in 2019, with Aidan O'Brien's Yucatan (9/2 William Hill)  topping the ante-post market.

After struggling for form on home soil, Yucatan secured an impressive victory over Brimham Rocks in the Herbert Power Stakes. As good as that victory was, Yucatan has never tackled a trip over 12 furlongs and I'd favour someone who looks more suited to this kind of trip.

Aidan is still searching for his first victory in the race won by his son, Joseph last season and he could send several capable performers to accompany the current favourite. The horse formerly known as Cliffs Of Moher (14/1 William Hill) ran on well for third in the Caulfield Cup but, like Yucatan, any trip further than a mile-and-a-half is unknown territory. Rostropovich (20/1 Ladbrokes) also features in the betting, but after running a hard race behind Winx in the Cox Plate, I doubt he will make an appearance. 

Ian Williams’ Magic Circle (9/1 Paddy Power) leads the British brigade and he looks to have everything required to succeed at Flemington. Owner, Marwan Koukash prizes a victory in the Chester Cup more than anything and Magic Circle handed the good doctor a fourth victory in that staying handicap on his reappearance in May. Williams’ charge then proved his quality with a runaway success in the Group Three Henry II Stakes at Sandown, booking his spot in the Melbourne Cup with a terrific six length triumph.

Magic Circle (right) and Fran Berry streak clear to claim the Chester Cup.

Godolphin has enjoyed a stellar worldwide campaign and look set to fire plenty of arrows at this year’s Melbourne Cup. The boys in blue will be captained by Best Solution (10/1 Ladbrokes), who travels to Flemington searching for a fifth-straight win - a run which includes a Group Two win at the July Festival and back-to-back Group One triumphs in Germany. Saeed Bin Suroor’s colt proved his Melbourne Cup credentials with a hard-fought triumph in the Caulfield Cup and Bin Suroor will be hoping his charge can land a favourable draw once again.

Cross Counter (10/1 Paddy Power) set a new course record over a mile-and-a-half at Goodwood when powering to victory in the Gordon Stakes during the summer. Charlie Appleby’s gelding was outstayed by stablemate Old Persian in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, but could be open to further improvement with the step up to two miles.

Ebor winners have a decent record in the Cup, with last year’s York victor, Nakeeta (50/1 BetVictor) managing to finish fifth last year. Jim Crowley and Muntahaa (12/1 Paddy Power) carried 9-9 to victory over stablemate Weekender in this year’s Ebor and John Gosden’s colt has plenty of big-race experience to back up his claims, having placed fourth in the 2016 St Leger.

Marmelo (20/1 William Hill) could only pass the post ninth on his Melbourne Cup debut 12 months ago, but Hughie Morrison’s stayer has enjoyed a successful season since. A narrow defeat to Vazirabad at Longchamp was followed by back-to-back victories in Listed and Group Two company, before rounding off his Cup preparation with a runner-up finish in the Prix Kergorlay.

Red Verdon (33/1 Paddy Power) may have struggled in the Caulfield Cup, but Ed Dunlop’s charge has placed twice in good quality Group Two’s in England this season and stepping back up to two miles should bring about an improved display. Nakeeta’s form figures don’t look particularly pleasing, but Iain Jardine’s handicapper has performed reasonably well under the burden of big weights and should be much more competitive with just 8-5 on his back.

Spearheading the home charge in this year’s Melbourne Cup will be James Cummings’ Avilius (12/1 Ladbrokes), the third Godolphin representative at the top end of the betting. James has so far failed to win the Cup his father Bart lifted a record 12 times, but Avilius has progressed nicely through the grades this term and the team is confident he will strip fitter after finishing fourth in the Cox Plate.

Chris Waller’s hopes of landing a first Melbourne Cup could lie with Youngstar (20/1 Paddy Power), who disappointed when carrying a price of 13/2 to seventh in the Caulfield Cup. Waller’s most interesting entrant, however, could be Finche (25/1 William Hill), who ran a decent race when finishing third behind Runaway (50/1 William Hill) on his stable debut in the Geelong Cup.

Big Duke (50/1 Ladbrokes) ran a storming race to finish as the highest-placed Aussie entrant in this race last year, crossing the line six lengths behind Rekindling in fourth. Sadly, Darren Weir’s charge has gone right off the boil since, with a three-length fifth behind Avilius in the Kingstown Town Stakes his best result of a forgettable campaign.

Katsuhiko Sumii brought the Melbourne Cup back to Japan in 2006, but it’s unlikely any of this year’s Asian entrants will pull up any trees, with Chestnut Coat (40/1 William Hill) slipping down the betting after being soundly beaten in the Caulfield Cup. Kings Will Dream was also sitting prominently in the Melbourne Cup market until he appeared at Caulfield, where Darren Weir’s four-year-old laboured to a sixth-place finish despite carrying the tag of favouritism to post.

Obviously, we don’t yet know which entrants will make the final cut for the Melbourne Cup and the draw will be all-important, with most connections hoping for a favourable inside gate. I may alter my selections nearer to the time of the race – depending on how they fare in the draw -  but these are the two entrants I feel offer the most value at their current prices.

Jim Crowley riding Muntahaa to victory in the Sky Bet Ebor at York.

2018 Melbourne Cup Ante-Post Tip One

John Gosden's colt has been campaigned above handicap level for most of the past two years, winning a Group Three at Newbury last season and placing third in the Listed Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot this season. Just one victory since August 2016 meant Muntahaa's rating had dropped down to 109 by the time the Ebor rolled around and Gosden decided to take advantage.

Jim Crowley took the bold decision to race away from the main body of the field for the first half of the race, joining up with the pack as the field entered the home turn. As rival after rival came off the bridle, Muntahaa made serene progress down the centre of the track, pounding away from Weekender to scoop the £311k first prize.

Crowley will be making the trip down-under to renew his partnership with Muntahaa, who will be carrying almost a stone less on his back than the 9-9 he scored with at York. Gosden's five-year-old should have no problems seeing out the trip and he has that touch of class needed to triumph in a race of this size and stature.

2018 Melbourne Cup Ante-Post Tip Two

During his days with Andre Fabre, Finche was running against Group One winners Cracksman and Waldgeist in races like the Prix Ganay. The son of Frankel then ended his time in France with a Group Three victory at Deauville, comfortably seeing off Tiberian - who placed seventh in last year's Melbourne Cup - in the Prix de Reux. 

Chris Waller then made the move to bring Finche to Australia, with the Melbourne Cup clearly at the forefront of his thoughts. The four-year-old was then backed into second-favouritism for the Geelong Cup, but found himself a little too far back having handed Runaway a soft lead and his late charge was only good enough for third.

Despite that loss, Finche was getting better with every stride at Geelong, running powerfully through the finishing line. That performance will give Waller plenty of reason to be optimistic as Finche targets Melbourne Cup glory – so long as the 13-day turnaround isn’t too much to cope with.

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2018 Melbourne Cup tips – 14/1 and 25/1 ante-post tips for Australia’s historic handicap

Our expert takes a look through the ante-post betting for Australia’s most famous race and highlights two horses for punters to keep a close eye on at Flemington on Tuesday 6th November.

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