Melbourne Cup 2018: Timeform's runner-by-runner guide
Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to Tuesday morning's Melbourne Cup at Flemington, and pick out their 1-2-3...
"Given a great ride to win the Caulfield Cup last time but showed a terrific attitude and comes here without penalty."
Timeform on Best Solution
1. BEST SOLUTION (Saeed bin Suroor/Pat Cosgrave)
Won 9 races from 22 starts. Multiple Group One winner including Caulfield Cup over 1m 4f, 146th Longines Grosser Preis Von Baden over 1m 4f at Baden Baden, 128th Longines Grosser Preis Von Berlin over 1m 4f at Hoppegarten. In sparkling form. Given a great ride to win the Caulfield Cup last time but showed a terrific attitude and comes here without penalty. Must be considered a big winning chance with the string of Group One wins.
2. THE CLIFFSOFMOHER (Aidan O'Brien/Ryan Moore)
Won 3 races from 17 starts. Winner of Group Two Mooresbridge Stakes over 1m 2f at Naas. Resumed when fourth (beaten 2.6 lengths) behind Benbatl over 1m 2f on good going in Caulfield Stakes. Similar effort last start when third, behind Best Solution in Caulfield Cup over 1m 4f on a slow track on 20th October beaten 1.9 lengths. Follows much the same path as last year's runner-up, and stablemate, Johannes Vermeer and every bit as talented. Powerful connections and demands respect off his excellent European form lines.
3. MAGIC CIRCLE (Ian Williams/Corey Brown)
Fresh for this. Won 8 races from 21 starts. Winner of Group Three Henry II Stakes over 2m at Sandown Park. Not raced for 166 days. Record first up (4w-1p-7s). Fresh winner of the Chester Cup over 2m 3f defeating Fun Mac on a good track. Has looked a much-improved model in two runs since joining this stable and aimed exclusively at this following his dominant Sandown win last time. Should be considered in the top handful of chances here for a multiple Cup winning jockey.
4. CHESTNUT COAT (Yoshito Yahagi/Yuga Kawada)
Won 4 races from 18 starts. Placed behind Ganko in Group Two Nikkei Sho over 1m 4f at Nakayama. Had a break of 17 days since resuming when thirteenth beaten 11 lengths over 1m 4f in Caulfield Cup behind Best Solution on a slow track. Second up last campaign won at Kyoto in 4yo+ Allow over 1m 3f defeating A T Thunder on good going. Japanese visitor with a progressive profile but he was never a factor in the Caulfield Cup last time and faces a sterner test here. Has plenty to prove now.
5. MUNTAHAA (John Gosden/Jim Crowley)
Won 4 races from 15 starts. Not raced for 73 days. Record first up (1w-2p-4s). First up last campaign finished fourth, behind Idaho in the Ormonde Stakes over 1m 5f on a good track at Chester on 10th May beaten 5 lengths. Has since won the Ebor Handicap at York over 14f. Stayed on well and posted a strong rating. Dominant in the Ebor which has been good form for this in the past and has been set for this from that point. Brilliant stable in the best of form and shapes as a key player on the strength of his latest win.
6. SOUND CHECK (Michael Moroney/Jordan Childs)
Won 7 races from 16 starts. Winner of Group Two Comer Group International 47th Oleander over 2m at Hoppegarten. Just fair at his Australian debut when twelfth beaten 10 lengths over 1m 4f in Caulfield Cup behind Best Solution on slow going. Expected to improve for the step up to two miles which brought out the best of him in Germany but a new career peak would be required to trouble the principal players here and his Caulfield Cup run didn't inspire that sort of confidence.
7. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN (Chris Waller/Ben Melham)
Honest veteran. Won 11 races from 55 starts. Won the Sydney Cup over 2m at Randwick this year and the Group Two Moonee Valley Gold Cup over 1m 4f last season. Two runs back ninth (beaten 10 lengths) behind Moss 'N' Dale over 1m 2f on a heavy track in Craven Plate. Much better effort last start when fourth beaten 2.5 lengths over 1m 4f in Moonee Valley Gold Cup behind Ventura Storm on good going. Contests the Melbourne Cup for the fourth time. Stays the trip well and sure to give an honest account for all that others hold stronger winning claims.
8. ACE HIGH (David Payne/Tye Angland)
Won 5 races from 22 starts. Multiple Group One winner including Victoria Derby over 1m 4f at Flemington, Spring Champion Stakes over 1m 2f at Randwick. Did a good job to land the Group Two Hill Stakes over 1m 2f at Randwick two back but disappointing last start when fifteenth beaten 12 lengths over 1m 4f in Caulfield Cup behind Best Solution on a slow track. Led in the Caulfield Cup which may not have suited but he did have an easy time of it in front and stopped quickly. Needs to turn things around dramatically now.
9. MARMELO (Hughie Morrison/Hugh Bowman)
Won 5 races from 16 starts. Multiple Group winner including Group Two Prix Maurice De Nieuil over 1m 6f at Longchamp, Group Two Prix Kergorlay over 1m 7f at Deauville, Group Three Prix Barbeville over 1m 7f at Chantilly. Not raced for 79 days. Record first up (1w-1p-3s). First up last campaign ran well to finish second (beaten a long neck) behind Vazirabad over 1m 7f on a good track in Prix Vigier. One of the favourites in this race last year after a slashing trial in the Caulfield Cup. Disappointed but runs fresh this time which may suit. Form in Europe this season has been as good as ever and no shock to see him in the finish here.
10. AVILIUS (James Cummings/Glyn Schofield)
Won 6 races from 12 starts. Multiple Group winner including Group Three The Bart Cummings over 1m 4f at Flemington, Group Three Kingston Town Stakes over 1m 2f at Randwick, Group Three Premier's Cup over 1m 2f at Rosehill. Even run last start when fourth, behind Winx in Cox Plate over 1m 2f on good going at Moonee Valley on 27th October beaten 8 lengths. Well beaten in the Cox Plate but went there with an eye to the two miles here. Improving at a rapid rate and looks one marked for the top. Trip is some concern but if he stays he is a terrific chance of landing Godolphin a first Melbourne Cup.
11. YUCATAN (Aidan O'Brien/James McDonald)
Won 3 races from 13 starts. Multiple Group winner including Group Two Herbert Power Stakes over 1m 4f at Caulfield, Group Three International Stakes over 1m 2f at Curragh. Had a break of 24 days since resuming. Second up last time third beaten 1.95 lengths over 1m 2f at Naas in Mooresbridge Stakes behind The Cliffsofmoher on a good track. Eye-catching winner of the Herbert Power when eased right down over the final 100m. Dominant up to that point and looks the type thriving in Australia and on track for a new peak. The horse they all have to beat and is favourite despite the wide draw.
12. AUVRAY (Richard Freedman/Tommy Berry)
Won 8 races from 39 starts. Multiple Group winner including Group Three Sky High Stakes over 1m 2f at Rosehill, Group Three Colin Stephen Qlty over 1m 4f at Rosehill. Two runs back sixth behind Patrick Erin in The Metropolitan over 1m 4f at Randwick. Maintained form last start when sixth (beaten 8 lengths) behind Big Blue over 1m 5f on heavy going in The ATC St Leger. Solid performances of late giving weight away to key rivals. Showed that he stayed the trip well in the Sydney Cup but may come up short for talent here.
13. FINCHE (Chris Waller/Zac Purton)
Won 3 races from 9 starts. Multiple Group winner including Group Two Prix Eugene Adam over 1m 2f at Maisons-Laffitte, Group Three Prix Valparaiso Sporting Club Prix De Reux over 1m 4f at Deauville. Had a break of 13 days since resuming, when third behind Runaway in Geelong Cup over 1m 4f on good going on 24th October beaten 1.6 lengths. Strong form around top line performers in Europe. Closed strongly in the Geelong Cup and gives the impression that there is a much better performance to come from him. Promising profile and no surprise to see him run a big race here.
14. RED CARDINAL (Darren Weir/Damien Oliver)
Won 5 races from 16 starts. Multiple Group winner including Group Two Oleander over 2m at Hoppegarten, Group Three Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes over 2m at Belmont Park. Two runs back third behind Big Blue in The ATC St Leger over 1m 5f at Randwick. Eleventh beaten 7 lengths over 1m 4f in Moonee Valley Gold Cup behind Ventura Storm on good going. Record at two miles is good but his form looks well short of the required standard here. Not fancied.
15. VENGEUR MASQUE (Michael Moroney/Patrick Moloney)
Won 4 races from 26 starts. Multiple Group winner including Group Three Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 1m 5f at Flemington, Group Three Geelong Cup over 1m 4f. Two runs back fifth behind Avilius in The Bart Cummings over 1m 4f at Flemington. Just fair last start when ninth beaten 5 lengths over 1m 4f in Caulfield Cup behind Best Solution on slow going. Racing honestly and holding his form from last season but he isn't getting any better and others have far more upside than him now. Could easily run top ten.
16. VENTURA STORM (David & Ben Hayes & Tom Dabernig/Mark Zahra)
Won 7 races from 29 starts. Group One performer won the Premio Jockey Club over 1m 4f at Milan, Group Three Haras De La Pomme Prix De Reux over 1m 4f at Deauville. Unsuited two runs back when tenth beaten 6 lengths over 1m 4f in Caulfield Cup behind Best Solution on slow going but back to his best last time winning the Group Two Moonee Valley Gold Cup over 1m 4f. Given a good ride there but landed a good gamble and won with authority. Runs at two miles have been disappointing, including when down the track in the Melbourne Cup last year, but as good as ever at the moment and should be considered.
17. A PRINCE OF ARRAN (Charlie Fellowes/Michael Walker)
Won 5 races from 28 starts. Won the Group Three Lexus Stakes at Flemington over 1m 4.5f after previously being third in Group Two Herbert Power Stakes over 1m 4f at Caulfield. Was third in Group Two Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes over 2m at Belmont Park, placed behind Sweet Selection in Group Three Sagaro Stakes over 2m at Ascot. Second up last campaign won Meydan in 3yo+ Handicap over 2m defeating Los Barbados by a head in 3:22.99 on a good track. Closed strongly when third at his Australian debut in the Herbert Power, making up plenty of ground late then won the Lexus Stakes on Saturday to make it into the field. Has the right local form to run well.
18. NAKEETA (Iain Jardine/Regan Bayliss)
Won 5 races from 38 starts. Two runs back finished seventh, behind Just In Time in 3yo+ Handicap over 1m 7f on a good track and carrying a big weight (9-10) at Doncaster on 14th September beaten 5 lengths. Rating dropped last start when thirteenth, behind Ventura Storm in Moonee Valley Gold Cup over 1m 4f on a good track on 27th October beaten 14 lengths. Ran well in this race last year but has been well beaten since and Moonee Valley run was hardly an inspiring lead up for this.
19. SIR CHARLES ROAD (Lance O'Sullivan & Andrew Scott/Dwayne Dunn)
Won 6 races from 24 starts. Multiple Group winner including Group Two Chairman's Hcp over 1m 5f at Randwick, Group Three City Of Auckland Cup over 1m 4f at Ellerslie, Group Three Manawatu Classic over 1m 2f at Awapuni. Was fourth (beaten 1.8 lengths) behind Night's Watch over 1m 2f on a good track in Naturalism Stakes. Rating dropped when seventh beaten 5 lengths over 1m 2f at Caulfield in Coongy Cup behind Best Of Days on slow going then was third in the Bendigo Cup at 1m 4f. Stayed the trip well when placed in the Sydney Cup back in April. Going well and can run his race but looks a rung below the required level here.
20. ZACADA (Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman/Damian Lane
Won 4 races from 36 starts. Winner of Group Two Avondale Cup over 1m 4f at Ellerslie. Two runs back eighth behind Avilius in The Bart Cummings over 1m 4f at Flemington. Well beaten last start when twelfth beaten 7 lengths over 1m 4f in Geelong Cup behind Runaway on a good track. Stays this trip, as shown when second in the Sydney Cup this year, but he was 100-1 there and likely to be bigger odds again today. Not up to this.
21. RUNAWAY (Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott/Stephen Baster)
Solid performer. Won 4 races from 17 starts. Half-brother to Group One winners Absolutely and Abbey Marie. Winner of Group Three Geelong Cup over 1m 4f. Winner of the St Leger at Flemington over 1m 6f. The Geelong Cup does have a tremendous history for the Melbourne Cup. Will press forward here and settle in the first couple in running. Stays well and while class is tested he can give a sight from on the pace.
22. YOUNGSTAR (Chris Waller/Craig Williams)
Won 4 races from 12 starts. Group one performer won the Queensland Oaks over 1m 3f at Doomben, Group Two Doomben Roses over 1m 2f at Doomben. Two runs back second behind Winx in Turnbull Stakes over 1m 2f at Flemington. Left with too much to do last start when seventh behind Best Solution in Caulfield Cup over 1m 4f on slow going on 20th October beaten 5 lengths. Stayed on well in the Caulfield Cup when the steady tempo played against. Shapes as though she will stay two miles and seen as one of the better local hopes.
23. CROSS COUNTER (Charlie Appleby/Kerrin McEvoy)
Won 4 races from 7 starts. Winner of Group Three Gordon Stakes over 1m 4f at Goodwood. Not raced for 76 days. Fresh record (1w-1p-2s). First up last campaign second beaten 2.75 lengths over 1m 2f at Sandown Park in 3yo+ Nov SW behind Elwazir on good going and carrying a big weight (10-0). Ran well last time in the Great Voltiguer Stakes over 1m 4f at York, finishing second to Old Persian. Strong formlines and progressive profile for one of the world's leading stables. Multiple Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy booked. Ratings make him one of the leading hopes and his profile and connections only strengthen that view with the light weight.
24. ROSTROPOVICH (Aidan O'Brien/Wayne Lordan)
Won 4 races from 13 starts. Half-brother to Group One winner Zoffany. Multiple Group winner including Group Two Futurity Stakes over 7f at Curragh, Group Three Kilternan Stakes over 1m 4f at Leopardstown. Even effort last start when fifth behind Winx in Cox Plate over 1m 2f on good going at Moonee Valley on 27th October beaten 9 lengths. Better suited back to a handicap now. Strong profile for top connections and plenty of upside in his profile. Likely to need a clear career best for the step up to two miles to be a winning hope.
Timeform's Melbourne Cup Analyst Verdict
YUCATAN was eased down when hugely impressive in the Herbert Power from a pair who dominated the Lexus on Saturday and looks the one to beat in a race European-based runners could dominate. It's hard to knock in-form Best Solution, especially from a good draw, while Cross Counter is a 3-y-o on the up and looks potentially well treated. Youngstar could come out best of the home team.
Timeform's Melbourne Cup 1-2-3
2. Best Solution
3. Cross Counter