Then, from about 1000 metres to go, that’s when the pressure starts to ramp up. There will be those looking to make a mid-race move, while some jockeys back in the field will already have an idea which horses they want to follow. The notable move is likely to come from the Japanese horse Breakup (4). After finding a position midfield, he could be the one to set off four wide and start the compression of the field, and Zahra on Without A Fight (3) will be looking to stalk this move to put himself in a position to strike.
Meanwhile, the favourite Vauban (5) won’t want to get stuck behind the leaders, so Moore will be angling off their heels to give himself clean air. Purton will look to follow on Absurde (7), while Gold Trip (1) will also be making his move to follow that running line, with Soulcombe (6) saving ground to also jump on that train. At this stage, the pressure will be on the leaders Serpentine (18) and Future History (21).
400 metres to glory
As they turn into the straight, it will be Vauban (5) tearing clear to put two lengths on the field, as those behind him fan out wide to give themselves clear air. Lastotchka (15) will be the first of the chasing pack, after Williams saved as much ground as possible, allowing him to plot his course to victory.
Absurde (7) will be bursting onto the scene and Breakup (4) will be the big runner out wide to watch, with Gold Trip (1) and Without A Fight (3) hunting them respectively. Soulcome (6) has saved good ground, but Moreira has to decide whether to come outside Gold Trip or cut the corner.
The five key chances to win the Cup
With the form analysed and the race pattern predicted, we’ve boiled it down to the five most likely to claim the Cup…
Vauban: He was purchased specifically for this race by high-profile UK owner Rich Ricci, with the team believing they have the ideal runner to win a Melbourne Cup. He came through the unorthodox path of a hurdle campaign, before a devastating win at Ascot back on the flat. The Ascot win in June profiles as the perfect performance for an overseas Melbourne Cup competitor. If he repeats that level here he’ll simply winning.
Without A Fight: He failed in this race last year on soft ground, but has an overseas profile and has proven in Australia he’s more dynamic on dry ground. He was excellent when winning twice from two starts in Queensland over winter, but went to a whole new level when winning the Caulfield Cup. The mark set in the Caulfield Cup surpassed what he was capable of overseas and was also a superior performance to the 2022 edition of the Caulfield Cup, which proved the right form line going into the Melbourne Cup. While some may question his capabilities to run out 3200 metres, he has an ideal Cup profile and his dynamic straight-line speed should come to the fore in the home straight.
Lastotchka: Import for the Mick Price and Michael Kent jnr team, with a solid French profile. She boasts the right overseas profile to be dangerous in a Melbourne Cup. While she’s small in stature, she certainly packs a big punch and is proven to be dynamic over any trip from 1800 to 3100 metres. She won her most recent start at Longchamp in fine fashion, and while the wide draw might be a tactical challenge, Craig Williams is the jockey capable to overcome it. She’s better than a knock-out chance, she’s another considered a genuine winning contender.
Gold Trip: Won last year’s Melbourne Cup, but his profile from his Turnbull Stakes win gives us the insight he’s returned a better horse this campaign. He was not disgraced in either the Caulfield Cup or Cox Plate, and while he thrives on tracks with some give, he’s certainly equally as dangerous on the dry. Under normal circumstances, the loss of Mark Zahra from the pilot’s seat would be deemed a negative, but the engagement of the rock star James McDonald certainly does his chances no harm. He’s another of the key winning hopes.
Breakup: Highly-talented Japanese staying import, who had his colours somewhat lowered in a fast edition of the Caulfield Cup. He’s got 3000-metre form behind Justin Palace in Japan, who would start a very short-priced favourite in a race of this nature. That’s a key form line which can be utilised when assessing his chances. He’s proven historically he can bounce back off a lacklustre performance and was brought here with the Cup specifically in mind. He might be the forgotten horse, and is a must include in everything.
News, results and expert analysis from the weekend of sport sent every Monday. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.