Melbourne Cup: Best European chances
Timeform run you through the ten best European chances in the Melbourne Cup on weight-adjusted Timeform ratings...
"He was made one of the favourites for the Melbourne Cup after his eye-catching finish in the Caulfield Cup last time..."
1. Johannes Vermeer - Aidan O'Brien
Aidan O'Brien's sole chance of rounding off his record-breaking season with a first Melbourne Cup comes courtesy of Johannes Vermeer, and he comes out as having the best chance of any European runner in the race on weight-adjusted Timeform ratings. He has 4 lb to find with the top-rated Australian runner, Humidor, but is relatively lightly-raced for a four-year-old and has shaped as though he will be well suited by the step up to beyond a mile and a half (strong at the finish both starts at that trip when placing in the Ballyroan Stakes and the Caulfield Cup last time).
2. Thomas Hobson - Willie Mullins
While his draw in stall 21 is far from ideal, conections of Thomas Hobson will just be glad to be in the race. Indeed, the seven-year-old's place in the field was only secured following the late defection of Jon Snow, but he appears to come out with a good chance on ratings, having bounced back to near his best when second to Desert Skyline in the Doncaster Cup in mid-September (crucially settling better than he had done on his previous two starts). The booking of Joao Moreira, who rode last year's runner-up Heartbreak City, is a big plus, and Thomas Hobson could go well from his light weight.
3. Wall of Fire - Hugo Palmer
Last year's Melrose winner is without a win in 2016, but he has put in back-to-back career-best efforts on his last two starts, finishing runner-up first in the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury (when slightly better than the result, the winner Defoe hanging across him late) and then in the Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield last time. Wall of Fire hasn't fired on both of his tries at two miles, but shapes as if he will get the trip, for all that his style of racing (well off the pace and takes plenty of stoking up) may not be ideal for a Melbourne Cup.
4. Marmelo - Hughie Morrison
Though trained in Britain by Hughie Morrison, Marmelo has only had one domestic start in 2017 (not beaten far by Dartmouth in the Yorkshire Cup), but his form does stack up well given that he beat Doncaster Cup winner Desert Skyline in the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay at Deauville in August (though the second met trouble). He was made one of the favourites for the Melbourne Cup after his eye-catching finish in the Caulfield Cup last time (finished best of all) and connections may well be rewarded by opting for this race over a crack at the Arc.
5. Max Dynamite - Willie Mullins
Max Dynamite's career-best effort remains his unlucky second in this race in 2015 (short of room, had to be switched twice before finishing strongly), and he has only had four starts (both jumps and Flat) since. He was forced to miss fourteen months due to an injury sustained in 2016, however, and though he couldn't land a substantial gamble when returning to action for the Galway Hurdle in August, he did get back to winning ways in a minor event at Killarney back on the Flat after that (barely needed to come out of second gear). He'd have a big chance if reproducing his performance from two years ago.
6. Tiberian - Alain Couetil
Tiberian was winless as a four-year-old, but he has only met with defeat on one of his five starts during 2017 (when well below form in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud), and arrives in Melbourne on the back of a career-best victory in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville in August. He'll be giving weight away to plenty as a result, and will probably need another career-best to figure up in trip.
7. Wicklow Brave - Willie Mullins
Wicklow Brave arrived in Melbourne on the back of a shock defeat of Order of St George in the Irish St Leger, but he was thumped by that rival in the race this time around, and ran only respectably in the Caulfield Cup last time (though that was only his second start at a mile and a half).
8. Nakeeta - Iain Jardine
Nakeeta was rewarded for some excellent seconds in top handicaps when winning the Ebor with a career best. He'll likely need more again here, but will have no problem with the extra two furlongs of the Melbourne Cup and is a consistent sort.
9. Rekindling - Joseph O'Brien
Rekindling has been very progressive this season - his first with Joseph O'Brien - winning the Ballysax in April and then the Curragh Cup in July. He was better than ever when staying on well for fourth in the St Leger on his last start and, based on that, the extra distance of this race could bring out an ever bigger effort.
10. US Army Ranger - Joseph O'Brien
On his 2016 Derby second, US Army Ranger would have a serious chance from his allotted mark here, but this season has been far from encouraging, and he cut a sorry figure when dropping out quickly in a Group 3 last time on his final start for Aidan O'Brien. He is another to have been done no favours by the draw (stall 22), too.
View the market for the 2017 Melbourne Cup here