ABOVE: Beth McCauley, Helen Sullivan, Haylee Corbin, Amber Knight and Grace McCauley pause for a photograph before leaving Flemington on Melbourne Cup day.
That's it for our live coverage of 2012 Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington. We've had a visit from Prince Charles and Camilla, we've welcomed actors from the US, we said hello to an Italian soccer legend ... but most importantly, we had an Australian win in the Melbourne Cup. And yes, it must be said that Lloyd Williams did keep the Cup in Australia thanks to a stayer who began his racing career in England ... but there's no denying that Green Moon is now officially True Blue. We'll see you on Thursday for live coverage of Oaks Day.
Melbourne Cup 2012
Crowds take shelter from the rain. Photo: Jason South
Melbourne Cup Day highlights
- Green Moon wins the Melbourne Cup. Read Andrew Eddy's story here.
- Record First 4 dividend paid out on the New South Wales TAB (see entry at 5.38pm).
- Prince Charles and Camilla headline the star parade, with Camilla presenting the Melbourne Cup. Watch here.
5.38pm — Daniel Sankey reports: Just had word from officials here in the mounting yard press room that the estimated Melbourne Cup crowd was 106,000 ... exceeding the Derby Day attendance, which just failed to hit the 100,000 mark. From a betting point of view, the New South Wales TAB's First 4 dividend of $1.4 million was a record, eclipsing the previous biggest dividend recorded on Emirates Stakes Day in 2007. In Victoria, the First 4 dividend fell just short of the million dollar mark at $969,406.
5.30pm: We leave Flemington for a moment to head to the wilds of Murwillumbah in Northern New South Wales, where there's been a nasty fall involving jockeys Adam Nicholls and Gary Bungard. It was a non-TAB meeting at Murwillumbah today, so unfortunately we don't have access to vision ... but the unusual thing about this racefall is that it occurred in a two-horse race. Somehow, Nicholls and Bungard managed to come a cropper while riding the only two horses on the track ... and as a result, neither horse finished. Nicholls was complaining of pain in his shoulder and arm. He was assessed on course and cleared to take himself to hospital.
The news wasn't so good for Bungard, who was unconscious when the ambulance arrived. He has since regained consciousness, but is suffering concussion and may have internal injuries. He was taken to John Flynn Hospital in Tweed Heads. Our best wishes go out to the jocks and their families. And we commiserate with the on-course punters who decided to have bet in a two-horse race ... and still couldn't find a winner!
5.24pm: We finish the day with another horse at double-figure odds winning the last, 3 MAHISARA (Craig Williams) proving too strong for his rivals in the Headquarters Tavern Plate (1400m). He may have failed to win the Melbourne Cup on Dunaden, but Williams certainly finished the day with a rush, winning the final two races on the card. 15 MOSSE DIVA (Brett Prebble) was second, with 11 THE NEW BOY (Jamie Mott) ensuring a healthy trifecta dividend by snatching third place at odds of 40/1.
Race 10: Headquarters Tavern Plate (1400m)
3 MAHISARA $10.20, $3.60 (Victorian TAB)
Jockey: Craig Williams. Trainer: Paul Messara.
15 MOSSE DIVA $4.40
Jockey: Brett Prebble. Trainer: David Hayes.
11 THE NEW BOY $8.40
Jockey: Jamie Mott. Trainer: Danny O'Brien.
First Four (3,15,11,13): $48,721.30
5.02pm: And now we're down to the lucky last. I hope you've managed to find a winner or two today. If not there's always the time-honoured Get Out Stakes, which today takes the form of the Headquarters Tavern Plate (God knows I could do with a cold beer at the Headquarters Tavern!) over 1400m. The Sydney raider, 2 AERONAUTICAL (Corey Brown) is a $5 favourite on course after opening at $4.40. Next in the betting is 13 HOT LOVER (Mark Zahra), who no doubt will get plenty of attention from some of the good sorts in the Birdcage.
But most importantly ... let's see if we can find you a winner. Chris "always listens to his Sydney" Roots has confidently tipped Aeronautical to win — "it's my second best bet of the day, Dan", he tells me. When I asked what his best bet was, he walked away and ignored me, so I'm guessing that's not a good sign. Maybe this is now his best bet of the day. Andrew "Fast" Eddy, on the other hand, is (shock, horror) tipping one at a good price — the fresh specialist 6 CORNELL (Kerrin McEvoy) for Darley. Fast seems very confident, so I'm sticking with him. A word of warning, though ... it's often a case of so close, yet so far with Mr Eddy. He did manage to tip Lloyd Williams to win this year's Melbourne Cup, and he was spot on. Only problem was, he didn't tip Green Moon — he tipped Lloyd's other Melbourne Cup runner, Mourayan, who ran an honourable seventh. Typical!
ABOVE: Welcome to Australia! Flemington racegoers say g'day to Prince Charles and Camilla.
4.48pm — Andrew Eddy reports: Stewards are currently investigating an incident in the Melbourne Cup involving James McDonald, who rode the runner-up Fiorente, and Nick Hall, who rode the 18th placed Sanagas. The interference occurred on the home turn in the Melbourne Cup. As yet, no judgement has been made. We'll have more information as soon as it comes to hand.
4.44pm — Daniel Sankey reports: The plunge has come off for the punters who unloaded on 23 UNPRETENTIOUS (Craig Williams) the MSS Security Sprint (1200m), with the Nikki Burke-trained gelding coming with a strong run out wide to win by a length. The second horse in the betting, 14 ALTAR (Kerrin McEvoy), was second from Queensland raider 3 EXCELLANTES (Michael Rodd). Unpretentious ended up starting a $3.60 favourite courtesy of a strong push from punters, some of whom managed to secure as much as $4.20 on track.
MSS Security Sprint (Listed, 1200m)
23 UNPRETENTIOUS $4.00, $2.00 (Victorian TAB)
Jockey: Craig Williams. Trainer: Nikki Burke.
14 ALTAR $2.80
Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy. Trainer: Peter Snowden.
3 EXCELLANTES $5.40
Jockey: Michael Rodd. Trainer: Robert Heathcote.
First Four (23,14,3,2): $3,808.90
4.34pm: Final word on betting in Race 9, and the push for 23 UNPRETENTIOUS is strong. The Stratum gelding is now into $3.70 on track after getting out to as much as $4.20. A small move at good odds for Gerald Ryan's 2 HOT SNITZEL ($15, in from $17), but outside that, most other runners have been drifters. Craig Williams takes the ride on Unpretentious and there's little doubt he'll be looking forward to erasing the memory of a disappointing Melbourne Cup performance on Dunaden. Williams actually rode Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon in all four of his starts this spring campaign leading into today, but accepted the Melbourne Cup ride on Dunaden, giving Brett Prebble the chance to jump on board. The rest, as they say is history ... but you can hardly blame Williams for choosing Dunaden, the horse he rode to victory in last year's Melbourne Cup and this year's Caulfield Cup. Let's just say his bank balance is probably still looking okay at the moment!
4.19pm: It's not often that you see the number 23 saddlecloth at the top of the betting for a race, but that's exactly what we're looking at in the ninth race on the program, the Listed MSS Security Sprint (1200m) down the Flemington straight. The Nikki Burke-trained 23 UNPRETENTIOUS (Craig Williams) is currently a $4 favourite (in from $4.20) in on-course betting, ahead of Darley's 14 ALTAR (Kerrin McEvoy, $7.50, out from $6.50). They're the only two horses under double figures, so if you're happy to work around the favourites, there's plenty of value to be found.
ABOVE: No, it's not Green Moon celebrating his Melbourne Cup victory. But it is fair to say that as the day goes on, it's not uncommon to see some horsing around in the crowd. Here, some punters have made good use of the rain that fell before the Melbourne Cup.
4.11pm: Hong Kong-based Australian jockey Brett Prebble, who rode Green Moon to victory in the Melbourne Cup, told Fairfax's Andrew Eddy that during the race, he was always confident he would win. "He was never going to get beat," Prebble said. ''He got a severe check about 250 metres after the start but eventually got into a rhythm and then I put it to him on straightening.'' The winner was trained by former AFL footballer Robert Hickmott, who played a number of games for Melbourne and has been the head trainer at Williams' Mt Macedon training property for the past four years. Read Andrew Eddy's full story here.
3.59pm: And in the midst of the Melbourne Cup afterglow, it's easy to forget there's more racing to come at Flemington. 11 ECLAIR SURPRISE (Dominic Tourneur) made it two wins on the trot, diving between horses in the final 200m to win the Diamond Jubilee Plate (1800m). It's a nice result for Tourneur, who was controversially replaced by Craig Williams on Alcopop before the horse won Saturday's Mackinnon Stakes. Eclair Surprise, who last start stormed home to win the Murray Bridge Cup, edged 5 GREY ASSIGNMENT and 12 TRIBAL ROCK in a bunched finish.
Race 8: Diamond Jubilee Plate (Listed, 1800m)
11 ECLAIR SURPRISE $10.30, $3.50 (Victorian TAB)
Jockey: Dominic Tourneur. Trainer: Phillip Stokes.
5 GREY ASSIGNMENT $2.70
Jockey: Luke Nolen. Trainer: Kelso Wood.
12 TRIBAL ROCK $1.70
Jockey: Damien Oliver. Trainer: Gai Waterhouse.
First Four: $7,394.00
3.48pm: Trainer Gai Waterhouse, who saddled up this year's Melbourne Cup runner-up Fiorente, was far from disappointed at just failing to win Australia's biggest race. "He [Fiorente] can only improve. Eight second [placings] are better than eight 10ths ... you look at my bank account," she said. "It's just a treat to have a runner in the Cup and to have two runners that ran second and sixth [Glencadam Gold] is what you dream about. It's interesting Gai mentioned that seconds are better than 10th placings, but in the case of the Melbourne Cup, 10th placings are MUCH better than 11th and beyond. Placings sixth through 10th receive a cheque for $125,000, which is more than the first prizemoney cheque for any other race on the program today. Eleventh and beyond receive ... nothing.
ABOVE: Green Moon (Brett Prebble) wins the Melbourne Cup from Fiorente and Jakkalberry.
3.44pm: Did Nick Williams, the son of Green Moon's owner Lloyd Williams, have a fairly sizeable wager on his horse to win the Melbourne Cup? He denied having a bet when speaking at the post-race press conference, saying: "My punting days are over"). But speaking in the mounting yard after Green Moon's victory, one couldn't help but notice the big smile that broke out on Nick's face when he saw the horse's starting price on the Victorian TAB ... a healthy $22.50 for the win. "It's terrific we got [odds of] $22.50 ... I just saw the odds up there. God bless everyone who wrote him off!" Williams said. But he was quick to remember the effort — and money — it took to secure the victory. "Everyone puts in so much time and effort and it's led by Dad," he said. "[Dad] puts a lot of money in and a heck of a lot of effort, so to get this result today is terrific." Yes, the result is terrific ... and so is the first prize of $3.6 million, in addition to a trophy worth $175,000.
3.32pm: Wondering where your horse finished in the Melbourne Cup? Here's the full list of placings in this year's big race. For those people wondering who finished last for their Melbourne Cup sweep ... you're looking for ETHIOPIA.
2012 Melbourne Cup finishing order
- 14 GREEN MOON (Jockey: Brett Prebble. Trainer: Robert Hickmott. Starting price: $20)
- 11 FIORENTE (James McDonald, Gai Waterhouse, $31)
- 3 JAKKALBERRY (Colm O'Donoghue, Marco Bott, $81)
- 24 KELINNI (Glen Boss, Chris Waller, $19)
- 8 MOUNT ATHOS (Ryan Moore, Luca Cumani, $7.50)
- 13 GLENCADAM GOLD (Tommy Berry, Gai Waterhouse, $41)
- 16 MOURAYAN (Hugh Bowman, Robert Hickmott, $26)
- 4 RED CADEAUX (Michael Rodd, Ed Dunlop, $9.50)
- 21 PRECEDENCE (Blake Shinn, Bart Cummings, $101)
- 17 MY QUEST FOR PEACE (Corey Brown, Luca Cumani, $18)
- 2 AMERICAIN (Damien Oliver, Alain de Royer Dupre, $7.50)
- 7 CAVALRYMAN (Frankie Dettori, Saeed bin Suroor, $31)
- 6 VOILA ICI (Vlad Duric, Peter Moody, $101)
- 1 DUNADEN (Craig Williams, Mike Delzangles, $7 favourite)
- 18 NIWOT (Dwayne Dunn, M,J&W Hawkes, $71)
- 20 LIGHTS OF HEAVEN (Luke Nolen, Peter Moody, $20)
- 5 WINCHESTER (Jamie Mott, John Sadler, $61)
- 9 SANAGAS (Nick Hall, Bart Cummings, $51)
- 15 MALUCKYDAY (Jimmy Cassidy, M,J&W Hawkes, $17)
- 12 GALILEO'S CHOICE (Pat Smullen, Dermot Weld, $16)
- 22 UNUSUAL SUSPECT (Glyn Schofield, Mick Kent, $151)
- 23 ZABEELIONAIRE (Craig Newitt, Leon Corstens, $51)
- 19 TAC DE BOISTRON (Olivier Doleuze, Mick Kent, $101)
- 10 ETHIOPIA (Rhys McLeod, Pat Carey, $21)
3.24pm: Apart from owner Lloyd Williams, who talked up Green Moon's Melbourne Cup chances on radio this morning, it seems most tipsters came up with a blank on the Cup. The only racing identity I can recall tipping Green Moon on top was bookmaker Tom Waterhouse. So if you stuck firm with Green Moon, despite his disappointing effort in the Cox Plate two Saturdays ago, congratulations!
3.18pm: Officially fourth in this year's Melbourne Cup was 24 KELLINI, who qualified for the Cup by winning Saturday's Lexus Stakes, while 10 ETHIOPIA finished last after pulling up with an abrasion on his hip. Jockey Rhys McLeod said he hoped it was not a long-term problem for Ethiopia, this year's ATC Derby winner.
ABOVE: Green Moon's trainer Robert Hickmott (left) and owner Nick Williams (right) hold the Melbourne Cup over the head of jockey Brett Prebble.
3.06pm — Daniel Sankey reports: The Lloyd Williams camp has done it for Australia! 14 GREEN MOON wins the Melbourne Cup from the Gai Waterhouse import 11 FIORENTE and English stayer 3 JAKKALBERRY in a performance that perfectly illustrates the difference between weight-for-age and handicap racing. Green Moon was a disappointing seventh of 14 in the Cox Plate after starting favourite, but proved too strong in the two mile test with just 53.5kg on his back. Everything's always easy in hindsight ... but Lloyd Williams gave punters the tip this morning (see blog entry at 7.05am when he talked up the chances of Green Moon, even though most judges thought Mourayan was his best chance in the race). "I wasn't terribly sure whether he could win the Cox Plate (at weight for age). Back to 53.5kg, it's a winning weight. I think the winner is going to come out of the 53kg-54kg range." I'm sure there's many who took the tip!
Race 7: 2012 Melbourne Cup (Group 1, 3200m)
14 GREEN MOON $22.50, $7.40 (Victorian TAB)
Jockey: Brett Prebble. Trainer: Robert Hickmott.
11 FIORENTE $11.80
Jockey: James McDonald. Trainer: Gai Waterhouse.
3 JAKKALBERRY $16.00
Jockey: Colm O'Donoghue. Trainer: Marco Botti.
First Four (14,11,3,24): $969,406.60
2.50pm: On-course bookmakers had their fingers burnt when they wound out Luca Cumani's 8 MOUNT ATHOS to $8 ... that was immediately snapped up and he's back into $7.50. 1 DUNADEN is holding firm at $7. Money has finally started to come for 2 AMERICAIN, who's into $8.50 (from $9). Also a little move for the Lexus Stakes winner, 24 KELINNI ($18, in from $20) while there are some romantics who've snapped up the $201 about 22 UNUSUAL SUSPECT. He's back into his opening quote of $151. Just a few minutes away from a start now ... good luck punters!
2.40pm — Chris Roots reports: Racing Victoria's Raceday Compliance Team, Kane Ashby and Dion Villella, were forced to jump a padlocked fence and run through a stable at noon today as they raided a Geelong stable where Queensland trainer Nathan Schofield was staying. Ashby and Villella witnessed Schofield with stomach tubing equipment and 400ml of warm water next to Beseech, which has been scratched from the last race at Flemington today by orders of the stewards. Schofield refused requests from the compliance team to inspect his vehicle after being caught with the drenching equipment. "By denying access to the vehicle, it suggests you were hiding something," Bailey said. Schofield will again front stewards on Friday.
2.30pm — Daniel Sankey reports: I'm really surprised to see a big drift in betting for 2 AMERICAIN with the Melbourne Cup just 30 minutes away. A couple of days ago, the 2010 champ was as short as $6 in some fixed odds market. Out in the betting ring, though, he's friendless — drifting from an opening quote of $8 out to $9. 1 DUNADEN ($7) and 8 MOUNT ATHOS ($7.50) are fighting out favouritism, with 4 RED CADEAUX AT $9.50. The shortest-priced Australian horse is 2010 runner up 15 MALUCKYDAY, who's out to $17 after opening at $15. 20 LIGHTS OF HEAVEN, backed to win $1.5 million at odds of $21 at yesterday's Call of the Card, is another drifter ($17 out to $18). The outsider of the field remains 22 UNUSUAL SUSPECT, who's $201 after opening at $151. I'm tipping they could bet double those odds and not write a ticket ... which is odd, given the former US horse finished top 10 in this race last year. Unfortunately for his connections, he hasn't fired a shot this campaign. But what a story if he could turn things around!
ABOVE: Prince Charles (right) and Camilla at Flemington racecourse for Melbourne Cup day.
2.18pm — Andrew Hornery reports: Camilla may well become Queen, but it was another "royal" who was being mobbed by crowds at Flemington today when Ian "Molly" Meldrum was chauffeured into the Birdcage enclosure. Still recovering from his dramatic fall almost a year ago, Meldrum was quickly the star attraction inside the marquee enclosure as punters raced to have their picture taken with the Melbourne icon. "Mate, it's just great to be here," Meldrum said, wearing a black velvet jacket with a Barack Obama bade on his lapel. Meldrum has lead a veritable smorgasbord of famous faces to Flemington this year for the Melbourne Cup, including Maria Venuti, Glenn McGrath and his wife Sara Leonardi, soccer star Alessandro Del Piero and his wife Sonia, KerrieAnne Kennerley, Jennifer Hawkins, Shane Warne minus his fianceé Elizabeth Hurley, Qantas chief Alan Joyce, Lady Susan Renouf, Wolf of Wall Street author Jordan Belfort, Mischa Barton and Delta Goodrem. Prince Charles and Camilla will spend most of their time in the Victorian Racing Committee's Chairman's Suite, before Camilla present's the winner of this year's Melbourne Cup.
2.16pm — Michael Lynch reports: "You can't win it if you are sitting in the stand'', said a smiling jockey Glyn Schofield when we caught up with him in the Flemington mountng yard. Schofield, the talented South African who is now based in Sydney, is in town to ride the rank outsider 22 UNUSUAL SUSPECT for Cranbourne trainer Mick Kent. At 300/1 the ex-American galloper could be described as friendless in the market, but, as Schofield said, you have to be in it to at leasT have a chance of winning it.
Schofield, who is best known as the regular rider of that grand sprinter Hay List, got home third behind Shocking and Crime Scene on Mourilyan in the 2009 Cup, but admitted that part of the attraction of being in Melbourne today was so that he could catch up with teenage son Chad. The younger Schofield was Sydney's champion apprentice last year, and is now attached to David Hayes Euroa stable in Victoria.
2.11pm — Daniel Sankey reports: Unbelievably, we've got near enough to four equal favourites for the Melbourne Cup on the TAB's fixed odds market. At 2.10pm, 1 DUNADEN ($7) held sway, just ahead of 2 AMERICAIN, 8 MOUNT ATHOS (both $7.50) and 4 RED CADEAUX ($8). On Betstar's fixed odds market, it's a little more generous, with Dunaden ($7) ahead of Mount Athos ($7.50), Americain (8.50) and Red Cadeaux ($9.50). The press room is now starting to clear out as the racing journos move outside to take up a position. The tension is building!
2.04pm — Michael Lynch reports: The Royal couple arrived at Flemington not unacquainted with horseflesh. Prince Charles, of course, is a polo player of some renown and Camilla has often been seen accompanying her husband at the sports. The King in waiting does have some experience of the racing game himself, having ridden in a handful of National Hunt events (over hurdles and fences) in the late 1970s in England. And there was, of course, a well known race mare in the early 1970s in the UK called Princess Camilla. Unusually for a female (at that time anyway) she competed over jumps and in fact twice ran in the most famous jumping race of all, the Aintree Grand National. As an eight-year-old she refused at the 27th fence, three from home, and a year later she completed the daunting course in 17th position.
ABOVE: Damien Oliver (blue and white checks, green sleeves) drives Walk With Attitude to the finishing line.
2.02pm — Daniel Sankey reports: I hope you took the tip from Michael Sharkie ... 8 WALK WITH ATTITUDE gets the cash in the Lexus Hybrid Plate. She was beautifully ridden by Damien Oliver, who sat just off the pace with cover before peeling out in the straight to make a perfectly-timed run. The $41 chance 10 THUNDER RAIN (Dwayne Dunn) tried hard to grab second ahead of 7 MEDUSA'S MISS (Jimmy Cassidy), while 5 BALACLAVA LADY (Michael Walker) ran into a wall of horses and should've fought out the finish.
Race 6: Lexus Hybrid Plate (Listed, 3YO fillies, 1400m)
8 WALK WITH ATTITUDE $6.30, $2.00 (Victorian tote)
Jockey: Damien Oliver. Trainer: Darren Weir.
10 THUNDER RAIN $10.60
Jockey: Dwayne Dunn. Trainer: Matthew Ellerton, Simon Zahra.
7 MEDUSA'S MISS $2.50
Jockey: Jimmy Cassidy. Trainer: Kevin Moses.
First Four (8,10,7,5): $23,457.20
1.40pm: Now that we've got confirmation that Zabeelionaire will be taking his place in the Melbourne Cup field, let's turn our attention to the sixth race on the card, the Lexus Hybrid Plate over 1400m. This is a listed race for three-year-old fillies, and there's a bit of value to be found, according to our experts. Andrew Eddy says he needs a few, so it's no surprise to see him tipping 9 COINS (currently $12 on course) to win and in the process secure a race-to-race double for Peter Snowden and Kerrin McEvoy. The Hard Spun filly raced wide and did a good job to hang on for a 1.9-length sixth to Mosse Diva at Warwick Farm last start. She's had one start at Flemington for a third placing, drops 3.5kg on her previous run and jumps from barrier one. Michael Sharkie also likes one at a decent price ... he's tipping 8 WALK WITH ATTITUDE to give jockey Damien Oliver a nice Melbourne Cup warm-up. The Hussonet filly, trained by Darren Weir, last raced on October 6 when she was a 2-length sixth to Maybe Discreet in the Edward Manifold Stakes here at Flemington. She drops 1.5kg and should get a lovely run on the pace.
1.25pm — Chris Roots reports: South Australian Derby winner Zabeelionaire will be permitted to run in this afternoon's Melbourne Cup, but his trainer Leon Corstens has been fined $500 for failing to notify stewards of administering a herbal hoof oil to the horse at 6.20am today. The treatment had been recommended by the VRC veterinarian. Chief Steward Terry Bailey said: "We understand there was no reason for deceit here, but you should have made a request about using this [oil]. If the request was made, permission would have been denied."
1.20pm: Trainer Leon Corstens, who saddles up Zabeelionaire in the Melbourne Cup, is about to again front stewards after being charged with administering a raceday treament to the horse without first notifying stewards. It's understood a herbal supplement was given to the four-year-old Zabeel stallion in the presence of a security guard at 6.20am today. Corstens has pleaded not guilty. We'll have the latest news on a potential penalty as soon as it comes to light.
ABOVE: Football superstar Alessandro del Piero signs an autograph for a fan outside the Lavazza marquee in the Birdcage.
1.18pm — Michael Lynch reports: His hamstring might have been a bit too iffy for him to play for his new club Sydney FC on Saturday night in their shocking 7-2 shellacking at the hands of Central Coast Mariners. But that didn't stop Italian stallion Alessandro Del Piero making it down to Melbourne for a Cup Day party, sharing the frolics with the bold and the beautiful and assorted glitterati. Don't know how much Aussie racing form the ex Italian international knows — although his assistant coach at Syndey, Zeljko Kalac, the former Socceroo is a keen student of the racing game and could doubtless mark his card — but on $2million a year Del Piero has plenty of loose change with which to have a play.
Perhaps he's more of a pinsticker, or a man who picks on jockey colours. There are no horses running in the famous black and white stripes — in which he played for almost all his career for Juventus — the closest being the black and white check jacket of Bart Cumming's outsider Precedence.
What of his new team Sydney, who play in light and dark blue? Perhaps the best match there might be the royal blue of Godolphin, whose Cavalryman is being ridden by Italian superstar Frankie Dettori. Maybe a box quinella with Quest for Peace and Mount Athos, both trained by expatriate English based Italian Luca Cumani, could complete the Latin theme...
1.15pm — Daniel Sankey reports: Peter Snowden has his first winner of the day, with the promising Exceed and Excel filly 6 GENTEEL too strong for her rivals in the Schweppes Tonic 1000 (1000m) for the three-year-olds. Jockey Kerrin McEvoy held the filly back in the field on the outside of runners, made his move at the 300m and his mount did the rest. 3 MAGNIER (Vlad Duric) finished well for second, just in front of 5 KOLONGA (Dwayne Dunn) and 1 THE TRAVELLING MAN (Ben Melham).
Race 5: Schweppes Tonic 1000 (3YO, 1000m)
6 GENTEEL $3.90, 150 (Victorian TAB)
Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy. Trainer: Peter Snowden.
3 MAGNIER $1.60
Jockey: Vlad Duric. Trainer: Anthony Cummings.
5 KOLONGA $3.80
Jockey: Dwayne Dunn. Trainer: Matthew Ellerton, Simon Zahra.
First Four (6,3,5,1): $671.90
1.10pm — Chris Roots reports: Leon Corstens, trainer of Zabeelionaire, has just been charged with administering a raceday treatment to the Cup runner without notifying stewards. Corstens has pleaded not guilty. "I've been charged enough, I never want to be charged again," Corstens said. "The treatment was done in front of the security guard at 6.20 this morning." Chief steward Terry Bailey responded with: "You are required under the rules to notify the stewards of any treatment you would give a horse. We accept that this is a herbal treatment, but if you'd asked in this case, permission would have been denied." Corstens will front stewards immediately after race five.
1.05pm — Daniel Sankey reports: About 10 minutes before the fifth race on the program, the Schweppes Tonic 1000 for the three-year-olds over 1000m. Punters very wary ... most horses have drifted from their opening quotes, although there has been a little move for 1 THE TRAVELLING MAN, who's firmed from $13 into $12. Darley's 6 GENTEEL ($4) is the on-course favourite from 2 MALASUN and 3 MAGNIER, both at $6.
12.45pm: If you're looking to find the winner of the Melbourne Cup, to whom should you turn for expert advice? Normally, I'd suggest one of Fairfax's racing writers (yes, there were a few who tipped Dunaden last year), but maybe we should instead just ask Macquarie Bank's equities research department. Believe it or not, the venerable duo of John Conomos and Francis Lim have managed to pick the past three winners (Dunaden, Americain and Shocking) of the Melbourne Cup. "Last year we made it three successful years in a row as Dunaden edged out Red Cadeaux by the closest of margins," they wrote today (read the full story here. "Can we get four in a row?"
So, what are they backing this year? Based on modelling designed for choosing investments and tweaked to reflect the variables of each race, last year's Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden is most likely to win in 2012, the Macquarie analysts wrote. If they're correct, not only will I be out of pocket (I'm on Red Cadeaux), but I'll be asking them to take over this blog in 2013.
ABOVE: Hugh Bowman has a peep over his shoulder as he surges to the front on Koonoomoo.
12.35pm: Another longshot gets home in the fourth race of the day, with 15 KOONOOMOO (Hugh Bowman) coming from well back to beat 13 CABERNET (Brenton Avdulla) and this year's Stradbroke Handicap winner, 1 MID SUMMER MUSIC (Luke Nolen). Koonoomoo benefitted from a hot speed set by 16 SHEILA'S STAR and 2 STEPS IN TIME who both, not surprisingly, found it difficult in the straight.
Race 4: Herald Sun Stakes (Group 3, 4YO+ mares, 1400m)
15 KOONOOMOO $23.30, $7.50 (Victorian TAB)
Jockey: Hugh Bowman. Trainer: Simon Vercoe.
13 CABERNET $4.60
Jockey: Brenton Avdulla. Trainer: Matthew Smith.
1 MID SUMMER MUSIC $3.10
Jockey: Luke Nolen. Trainer: Peter Moody.
First Four (15,13,1,9): $30,361.80
12.20pm — Suzanne Carbone reports: Actress Mischa Barton has arrived at the Emirates marquee in the Birdcage wearing a long, plum-coloured Ellery outfit matched with a Philip Treacy hat. Of late, Barton — who shot to prominence with her starring role in The OC — has been starring in a stage production of Steel Magnolias in the UK. Over at the Lexus marquee, and Australian actress Rose Byrne arrived wearing a bespoke Alex Perry dress and Chanel roses headpiece. Over at the Lavazza marquee, the star attraction is Sydney FC star Alessandro del Piero, who still can't manage to get away from fans wearing Juventus shirts.
ABOVE: Actress Sophie Monk gets her hands on the Melbourne Cup. We're assured she didn't fill it with champagne beforehand.
12.16pm — Daniel Sankey reports: Cup revellers heading to Flemington by public transport are facing delays at train stations. At Southern Cross station, patrons waited about 10 minutes to buy myki cards from short-staffed service counters and slowticket machines. The Age online reporter Adrian Lowe said the mood was generally upbeat; many were looking forward to the day. Sydney friends Ashley, 20, and Nicole, 21, were not fussed by the wait but were confused as to where to go. They said signage was minimal, which had not helped them, but transport staff had been. "Everyone else seems to be in the same boat," Nicole said.
12.10pm: Looking ahead to the fourth race on the card, a Group 3 1400m race for the mares. It's time for some tips from Fairfax's experts. Michael Sharkie thinks 11 CRUCIAL is one of the best value bets on the program. You can get $41 currently with Betstar, which seems like a ridiculous price for a Group 3 winner who was very solid first up over an unsuitable 1200m. Those interested in omen bets, take note. Crucial, raced by Darley, will be ridden by Michael Rodd, who steered 40/1 shot Appearance to victory for Darley on Derby Day. Andrew Eddy is keen on 2 STEPS IN TIME, thinking the front-running mare will shoot straight to the front from barrier 19 and prove hard to catch with Jimmy Cassidy aboard. Chris Roots is sticking with the Gerald Ryan-trained 9 ANGEL OF MERCY, while yours truly thinks 7 DETOURS is an "each way all day" moral.
12.02pm: Less than three hours to go before the Melbourne Cup ... and already, the betting is heating up on the race that stops a nation. There's been a very good push on TAB fixed odds for last year's runner-up 4 RED CADEAUX ... he's now into $7.50 fixed odds and is pushing 1 DUNADEN and 2 AMERICAIN (both $7) for favouritism. On Betstar, you can still get $8.50 for Red Cadeaux and $8 for Americain, but they're taking no risks with Dunaden, who's a clear-cut favourite at $6.50. Betstar has 8 MOUNT ATHOS at $8, equal with Americain, but he's even shorter with the TAB ($7.50).
12.01pm — Michael Lynch reports: When Robert Smerdon shelled out 250,000 Guineas (around $340,000 at current exchange rates) for Verdant at last year's Newmarket Horses in Training Sales, he hoped that the son of Singspiel might be starring at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November. Star he did, but not in the race Smerdon hoped.
The leading Caulfield trainer would have fondly imagined that Verdant, a former occupant of Sir Michael Stoute's Newmarket stables, might be a live chance in the Melbourne Cup. Instead he took the role of leading man in the Cup consolation, the 2800 metre Lavazza Long Black, winning by a length and a quarter under a clever ride from Dwayne Dunn, who was patient and waited for his mount to find its stride before bringing him home from the rear of the field to beat favourite Garud ($3.60) and another well backed candidate in Practiced ($5).
A $7 chance, Verdant has come a long way from the midwinter midweeks to win on one of the biggest days in the calendar, and his time in the spotlight will be extended as he now targets the Sandown Cup on the final day of the carnival in mid November. ''The ride won the race, no question. He cost about 250,000 guineas, so we have still got a way to go. The autmumn we might look at Sydney and Adelaide. He does seem to settle and runs a trip. Maybe the Melbourne Cup is a bit tough, but those sort of races are options for him.''
Verdant's win shows how different horses acclimatise and change over time. As a three year old he gave Melbourne Cup favourite Mount Athos six kiolgrams and beat him four lengths in a 2400 metre handicap at Goodwood. Now Mount Athos is going round in the biggest race of all, and Verdant has collected the consolation prize...
ABOVE: Dwayne Dunn has enough time to stare down the crowd as he wins the Lavazza Long Black on Verdant.
11.50am — Daniel Sankey reports: Jockey Dwayne Dunn and trainer Robert Smerdon combine to win the Lavazza Long Black with consistent Singspiel gelding 5 VERDANT. Dunn rode the $7.50 chance (a drifter from $6 on track) a treat, taking an inside run as favourites 15 GARUD and 11 PRACTICED battled it out on the crown of the track.
Race 3: The Lavazza Long Black (2800m)
5 VERDANT $7.30, $2.50 (Victorian TAB)
Jockey: Dwayne Dunn. Trainer: Robert Smerdon.
15 GARUD $1.90
Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy. Trainer: Mike Moroney.
11 PRACTICED $1.70
Jockey: Craig Williams. Trainer: Robert Hickmott.
First Four (5,15,11,6): $429.30
11.40am: News from Flemington as the stayers head out onto the track for race three, and the track has been upgraded to a Good 3, despite a passing shower earlier. In other news, European stayer Brigantin, who failed to qualify for the Melbourne Cup after running third in last week's Geelong Cup, has been ruled out of the spring after sustaining a leg injury. The Andre Fabre-trained stallion was pencilled in to run in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Emirates Stakes Day on Saturday.
11.28am: Looking now at Race 3 on the program, the Lavazza Long Black for the stayers over 2800m. This is a tremendous betting race ... at the moment, the Mike Moroney-trained 15 GARUD (Kerrin McEvoy) heads the betting at $4. He's coming off a dominant four-length win in a benchmark 78 at Geelong on Geelong Cup day. It was a race in which they went seven seconds faster than the Geelong Cup ... although how much you can read into that, given the farcically slow speed of a small Geelong Cup field this year, is debatable. On the second line of betting is 11 PRACTICED, who was well-beaten by the promising Puissance de Lune in the Bendigo Cup last Wednesday. He's a big drifter ... out to $5 after opening at $4.20. Both 5 VERDANT and 6 CRAFTY CRUISER also under double figures.
11.26am — Daniel Sankey reports: Another quick update on the Damien Oliver saga. Fairfax Media can reveal the Victorian opposition will ask the state's racing watchdog to launch an inquiry into the handling of the betting scandal by Racing Victoria. Opposition racing spokesman Martin Pakula said he would ask Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna to investigate the matter after revelations that Oliver had admitted to racing authorities a fortnight ago that he had placed a bet on a rival horse in an October 2010 race. Read the full story here.
ABOVE: Need a last-minute tip for the Melbourne Cup? Watch our Rails Run preview.
11.25am — Michael Lynch reports: Pat Carey thought long and hard about running his improving four year old Ethiopia in the Melbourne Cup. Having earlier in the year suggested it was unlikely, the first Tuesday in November does, after all, see the West Australian bred son of Helenus taking his place in the field. At least his stable is in top form, Carey sending out outsider Kasane, under expatriate Australian Hong Kong-based jockey Brett Prebble, to cause a boilover in the second race on the Cup Day card.
As the rain tumbled down heavily Carey was asked how track conditions might affect his ATC Derby winner later today.
''I am not sure that this would worry Ethiopia at all. He likes respectable good ground, I don't see this as the type of rain that would hurt his chances. Its just started, we will see how much we will get,'' the Mornington based handler said.
Prebble, such a success these days in Hong Kong, was Victorian champion when based in his native Melbourne. He has jetted in for the ride on Lloyd Williams Green Moon in the Cup — but there was at least one trainer who, for a few minutes yesterday, wished he had stayed on the island.
''Get back home, '' waved David Hayes with a grin, after Prebble had outpointed his fast finishing mare Mabsam, ridden by last season's Sydney apprentice champion Chad Schofield, who is now attached to the Euroa based Hayes. Hayes, like Prebble, was a big success in HK when he was based in the former British colony before returning back to Melbourne, where he made his name succeeding his legendary father CS Hayes.
11.03am — Daniel Sankey reports: Welcome back to Australia, Brett Prebble! The Hong Kong-based hoop, who'll ride Green Moon for Lloyd Williams in the Melbourne Cup later today, piloted $26 longshot Kasane to victory in race two of the day, the TAB Trophy for mares over 1700m. Prebble did it wearing the silks of trainer Pat Carey, who'll saddle up Ethiopia in the big race. Like Ethiopia, Kasane is by Western Australia-based sire Helenus, best remembered for his dominant three-year-old campaign in the spring of 2002, when he won the Caulfield Guineas and the Victoria Derby.
Race 2: TAB Trophy (4yo+ mares, 1700m)
11 KASANE $28.70, $7.50 (Victorian tote)
Jockey: Brett Prebble. Trainer: Pat Carey.
8 MABSAM $3.50
Jockey: Chad Schofield. Trainer: David Hayes.
16 ALIYANA $4.00
Jockey: Nick Hall. Trainer: Bart Cummings.
First Four (11,8,16,10): $39,009.40
ABOVE: Jennifer Hawkins (left) and Rebecca Judd in the Birdcage.
10.40am — Suzanne Carbone reports: The Birdcage is starting to fill, with Myer beauty Jennifer Hawkins wearing a baby blue Toni Maticevski frock. Rebecca Judd is in colourful Nicola Finetti. Rain is falling, the skies are grey and everyone is ducking for cover. Brollies a mandatory accessory!
10.35am — Michael Lynch reports: Michael Rodd got off to a cracking start with an easy win in the first race aboard Villa Verde, giving him plenty of confidence before he climbs aboard Red Cadeaux in the big one in a few hours time as the pair seek to avenge their narrow loss to Dunaden 12 months ago. The ever smiling Rodd is like all top sportsmen _ always able to relax when not called into action. After weighing in from piloting Shaun Dwyer's impressive two year old to her second victory in succession, Rodd said he was off to the jockeys room to have a lie down.
''I haven't got another ride until the fourth so I will get some rest,'' he said as he walked away from the scales. And how was his Cup mount — ''he's going well,'' he shot back with a trademark grin.
He could afford to smile at the ease with which the grey Not a single Doubt filly scooted home in the 7News Plate, a 1000 metre scamper for two year olds. One of only two with race experience (from her winning debut at Caulfield), Villa Verde looked a class above the rest — a mixture of her ability and her experience. But Dwyer thinks highly enough of her to have nominated the Golden Slipper as her major target, and Rodd agrees its a path worth taking. ''She's very smart, really professional, does everything right and what you see is what you get with her, I don't know what more I can say. She gives you a bit when you want her to go.
"I said to Shaun, I ran second in this race last year and got in front at the hundred and just got nabbed late and I said I won't do that this year. But I was going too easy, I got to the front at the 300 and she just cantered away from them — I looked over and they were all starting to feel for theirs and I was going so easy I think they will be able to get her to a Golden slipper. She has plenty of scope, and she shows the right professionalism to suggest that she will handle a 2yo preparation.''
ABOVE: Villa Verde (Michael Rodd) scores a comfortable victory in the first race of the day.
10.22am — Daniel Sankey reports: First favourite home for punters, with Michael Rodd piloting 1 VILLA VERDE to a comfortable victory in the 7 News Plate (1000m) for three-year-old filliles. She exploded at the 300m, putting a gap on her rivals before being eased down to win by 2½ lengths. 10 PURRIFIC (Glen Boss) chased hard for second, with 14 THUMP (Christian Reith) just edging out 6 ITAMERI (Kerrin McEvoy) for third.
Race 1: 7 News Plate (Listed, 2yo fillies, 1000m)
1 VILLA VERDE $3.20, $1.60 (Victorian TAB)
Jockey: Michael Rodd. Trainer: Shaun Dwyer.
10 PURRIFIC $3.20
Jockey: Glen Boss. Trainer: Kevin Newby.
14 THUMP $3.70
Jockey: Christian Reith. Trainer: John Thompson.
First Four (1,10,14,6): $889.60
10.17am: Close to a jump now, and the money has come for 6 ITAMERI in the first ... the Darley filly has been well backed late and is now into $4.40 after drifting to $4.80. 1 VILLA VERDE to run the favourite.
10.05am The word from The Age's Michael Sharkie on well-bred Darley first starter 6 ITAMERI in the first race is that the Exceed and Excel filly is the stable's best Melbourne-based two-year-old. You can still get $4.60 in the betting ring here at Flemington, but a few bookies have her around the $4.40 mark. As you'd expect, not a lot of betting interest in a race in which just two of the 15 runners have had a race start. Favourite 1 VILLA VERDE opened at $3.30, was wound out to $3.80 and the punters decided that was a luxury for a filly that's won her only race start. She immediately shortened to $3.60 and there's since been another turn of the dial into $3.50.
9.35am: It's a weird feeling, just finishing off a coffee and a piece of toast for breakfast as we turn our attention to the first race of the day, but that's the "beauty" of a 10.20am start. Early favourite in the first, the 7 News Plate over 1000m for the two-year-old fillies, is the Shaun Dwyer-trained 1 VILLA VERDE, who scored a nice win at Caulfield on debut on October 17. The Not A Single Doubt filly started at the juicy odds of $15 that day ... no such luxury today, as she's around $3.30 in the early market. There's a big watch on the unraced Darley filly 6 ITAMERI, a $300,000 yearling by Exceed and Excel. She's around $4.60 at the moment and the betting will tell a story on her chances.
9.02am: The Age's Racing Editor Andrew Eddy reckons there's a danger in pinning your hopes on the favoured French pair of Dunaden and Americain in today's Melbourne Cup. While class runners, he says the decision to not penalise Kelinni for his Lexus win on Derby Day dispels the theory that the reduced weight spread between top and bottom favours the topweights. "Fast Eddy" reckons there's plenty of value to be found in the middle of the field. Read his full report here.
8.44am: A couple of amazing horse racing stories doing the rounds today on this, the biggest day on the calendar for the industry. Earlier today, I touched on the pressure surrounding Damien Oliver as he prepares to ride Americain in the Melbourne Cup later today. Gerry Ryan, the owner of Americain, is sticking by the jockey as he continues to deal with the fallout created by allegations he bet on an opposing horse. You can read Michael Lynch's interview with Gerry Ryan here. There's also plenty of controversy swirling around mining magnate Nathan Tinkler, with revelations he's been struggling to pay the bills for his massive Patinack Farm racing operation. Love him or hate him, Tinkler has been good for the racing industry ... he's injected millions of dollars into the industry and the flow-on effects in terms of employment and other opportunities have been enormous. Not sure if Tinkler will be at Flemington today ... he has four runners at Flemington today, including Thump (race 1), Maules Creek (race 8), Metallurgical (race 9) and Potions (race 10) ... but Real Stolle (race 6) and Tagus (race 8) have been scratched.
ABOVE: Watch the rush as the first punters arrive at Flemington for Cup Day.
8.33am: The gates have just opened at Flemington and already, the prime spots on the rails are being reserved with blankets, tarpaulins and folding chairs. Here in the mounting yard press room, it's already a hive of activity while just outside, the bookies are setting up in the betting ring.
8.02am: Scratchings are in for the Flemington card ... just repeating, the track is Dead 4, but an upgrade to Good 3 is expected in the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup at 3pm. Weather is cloudy, with some passing showers this morning expected to bring no more than 2mm. Maximum temperature of 24 degrees to come later today. Importantly, there are no scratchings in the Melbourne Cup. Quaddie legs on the Victorian TAB are the final four races on the program — races 7 (Melbourne Cup), 8, 9 and 10.
Race 1: 12 Tens All Round
Race 2: 13 French Tang (also a riding change, Dwayne Dunn rides 17 Queen For Ninedays)
Race 3: 13 Tenby Lady
Race 4: 17 Bonaria, 18 Simply Put, 19 New Beginning, 20 Twilighting
Race 5: 10 Zarzing
Race 6: 1 Real Stolle
Race 7: Nil
Race 8: 3 Tagus
Race 9: 16 Onthelookout, 19 Rosie's Reward, 22 Fontelina
Race 10: 8 Hot Spin, 10 Reparations, 19 Lonhreign, 20 Chile Express
ABOVE: Dawn rises over Flemington: watch our stunning video.
7.38am: We know Damien Oliver is a jockey that responds to pressure ... remember this day 10 years ago, when he won the Melbourne Cup on Media Puzzle while mourning the death of his brother, Jason? But it will certainly be an amazing achievement if he can win the 2012 Melbourne Cup on Americain after more revelations today surrounding allegations that he breached the rules of racing by betting $10,000 on a rival horse, Miss Octopussy, at Moonee Valley two years ago. Read the full story here. Oliver's booking for Americain certainly didn't scare away the punters ... Americain was backed into outright favourite last week when Oliver was announced as Americain's jockey. Currently, Americain ($7) is on the second line of betting behind arch rival Dunaden ($6.50).
7.30am: For those of you still working your way through the form for today's Melbourne Cup, we've got a cheat sheet of sorts for you. Andrew Eddy has done a full rundown on all the Melbourne Cup runners — you can read about the hopes of each horse here. The Rails Run team has also done a full wrap-up of every runner ... simply play the video below.
7.25am: A quick look at the betting, and there's been a good move for the defending champion Dunaden overnight, with the Caulfield Cup winner now outright favourite with Alan Eskander's Betstar. After offering odds of $8 at yesterday's Call of the Card — which was claimed by one punter with a bet of $50,000 for a collect of $400,000 — Betstar has tightened Dunaden to $6.50. The 2010 Cup winner Americain is steady at $7 ahead of Luca Cumani's Mount Athos ($8). There's been another good move for last year's runner-up Red Cadeaux, for whom $12 was offered yesterday. Betstar now has the 2011 Melbourne Cup runner-up at $8.50. For those who love the Melbourne Cup roughies, the outsider of the field is Unusual Suspect at $301.
7.15am: Flemington-based trainer John Sadler, who saddles up outsider Winchester in the Melbourne Cup, believes it's one of the best fields to contest the race. He said Winchester — a four-time Group 1 winner in the USA before joining Sadler earlier this year for his new Australian owners — was over a hoof problem and would go into the Melbourne Cup in fine fettle. Winchester's late sectionals in Saturday's Mackinnon Stakes (2000m), when he was a 2.8-length sixth to Alcopop, were very strong and he'll be suited by the step up to 3200m.
ABOVE: Teresa Haddow from Perth and Jo Sexton from Townsville are in fine form as they make their way to a champagne breakfast on Melbourne Cup morning.
7.05am: Prominent Australian owner Lloyd Williams gave supporters of Green Moon and Mourayan plenty of confidence this morning when he told RSN radio that his Melbourne Cup hopes were in terrific order. While plenty of tipsters have dropped off Green Moon following his unplaced effort in the Cox Plate, Williams said coming back to a handicap suited Green Moon. "I wasn't terribly sure whether he could win the Cox Plate. He hasn't really stepped up to weight for age ... set weights and penalties is a hell of a lot different to weight for age. I think there's probably 10 chances out of the 24 (runners). Back to 53.5kg (for Green Moon), it's a winning weight. I think the winner is going to come out of the 53kg-54kg range," he said, pointing out that history showed it was difficult for topweights to win Melbourne Cups.
6.45am: Good morning punters. It's just 8 hours before they jump in the 2012 Emirates Melbourne Cup, but we've got a fair bit to talk about before we get there. Firstly, let's get an update on the condition of the track.
Flemington course manager Mick Goodie told RSN this morning that yesterday, the track was given a total of 9mm of irrigation — the most ever in a 24-hour period — despite the threat of passing showers this morning. Currently the track is a Dead 4, with an upgrade to Good 3 expected by the time the Cup field jumps at 3pm. The penotrometer is 4.78, with a reading of 4.80 on the inside and 4.85 on the outside.
Goodie said the track would race fair for all horses, with just "a touch of give in it". That'll please the connections of many of the Europeans, that's for sure. When it comes to the weather, Terry Ryan from the Bureau of Meteorology said no more than 2mm of rain was expected from passing showers this morning, with a forecast maximum temperature of 26 degrees and fine conditions for the Cup.