Vauban won a restricted race at Royal Ascot by 7.5 lengths to announce himself as a Cup contender and followed that with an easy group 3 win in Ireland.
He has a winning weight of 55 kilograms and his canny Irish trainer Willie Mullins has had Melbourne Cup placegetters Max Dynamite (second in 2015, third in 2017), while the world’s best jockey Ryan Moore will be on board.
The fact Vauban is a lightly raced six-year-old and is seemingly untapped adds to the hype. The one minus is that six of his seven wins have come on soft tracks.
Topweight and defending champion Gold Trip will be out to join the select group of five horses to win multiple Cups – Archer (1861, ’62), Peter Pan 1932-34), Rain Lover (1968, ’69), Think Big (1974, ’75) and Makybe Diva (2003-05).
History is against him, though. The last Cup winner to carry 58.5kg was Think Big in 1975. But weights are compressed these days with the race more a quality handicap favouring horses higher up in the weights.
Caulfield Cup winner Without A Fight is out to become the 12th horse to complete the Caulfield-Melbourne Cup double.
Without A Fight fits the mould of the typical present day Cup runner, and winner, a European stayer bought to race here by local owners for local trainers having deduced that our home-bred stayers as a rule are inferior.
Vow And Declare, the 2019 Cup winner, and Right You Are are the sole Australian-bred stayers in the race.
If you like statistics barrier five (Military Mission) with eight wins has been the most successful, barriers 15 (Right You Are) and 18 (Breakup) are the least with just one win each. No.4 (Breakup) is the most successful saddlecloth number with 12 wins.
- TABs open from 7.30am
- First trains to Flemington leave Flinders Street from 8.15am stopping at Southern Cross and North Melbourne stations.
- Gates open at Flemington at 8.30 am
FIVE BEST BETS FOR CUP DAY
Flemington Race 2 No.6 LORD VLADIVOSTOK
One of several hard-luck runners in the last race on Derby Day. Ran third in this race last year on the same three-day back-up.
Suggested bet: Lord Vladivostok each-way
Flemington Race 4 No.1 BARBER
Group-performed sprinter down in grade. Blinkers first time and impressed in a Flemington 800m jumpout on October 27.
Suggested bet: Barber to win
Flemington Race 6 No.10 FROST YOURSELF
Frost Yourself drops eight kilos on her first-up third at Kyneton when she faded late. Has a good turn of foot and can surprise at double-figure odds.
Suggested bet: Frost Yourself each-way
Flemington Race 7 No.5 VAUBAN
Irish raider Vauban has been Cup favourite for months on the strength of Royal Ascot win and group 3 win in Ireland. He’s also a star hurdler so the 3200m will be the least of his concerns.
Suggested bet: Vauban to win.
Flemington Race 10 No.16 CHORLTON LANE
An impressive Cranbourne jumpout suggests consistent Chorlton Lane can send favourite punters home happy. He has strong form lines and looks ideally placed.
Suggested bet: Chorlton Lane to win.
Vauban (5) is the obvious. In-form Irish stayer meticulously prepared and has a great jockey in Ryan Moore. Include last year’s winner Gold Trip (1) racing in career best form and Soulcombe (6), a gifted stayer but risky form the barriers.
Numbers: 1, 5, 6
Host of chances headed by Kimochi (3) down in class from a group 1 Flight Stakes second and has since trialled well. Facile (4), suited out to 1400m and winkers go on, and down from Sydney lightly raced Commemorative (13).
Numbers: 3, 4, 13
HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB
Madame Pommery (1) was luckless locked away on the rails at Caulfield last start. She’s a group 1 Thousand Guineas winner so has earned the 59kg and has James McDonald. Chances to the consistent La Danseuse Rouge (8), out to 1400m for the first time, and Climbing Star (12)
Numbers: 1, 8, 12
Chorlton Lane (16) has an excellent fresh record and has had a six-week break going into this. Looked sharp in a recent Cranbourne jumpout. Underrated Adelaide visitor Chicago Storm (3) is a last-start fast-finishing Gawler Cup winner, while Dubai Poet (7) was luckless late at Sandown.
Numbers: 3, 7, 16
For a $20 outlay you would receive 25 per cent of a $1 dividend.
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