The contrarian word on tomorrow's Melbourne Cup....

Last Updated: 05.11.2018

Monday, 5th November 2018

The contrarian word on tomorrow’s Melbourne Cup….

Aidan O’Brien came as close to winning the Melbourne Cup as he has ever done last year  when his Johannes Vermeer was beaten just half a length into second place by Rekindling, trained by his son, Joseph....

That would have been a bitter-sweet moment for O’Brien – the sweet probably out-pointing the bitter once the immediate dust had settled....

For O’Brien senior, these things will be a little easier to bear than for other lesser lights in the training ranks....

It’s not as though he hasn’t won more than his fair share of big races over the last two decades....

And it isn’t as though he is ever going to have to wait too long for other ‘live’ chances. In terms of year-on-year firepower for the biggest races, O’Brien is better equipped than anybody....

And you can rest-assured that his appetite to win this big Australian G1 handicap will be undimmed and undiminished. Plenty will have been learnt from the details of last season’s close shave and it is surely only a matter of time before the master of Ballydoyle carves this specific notch onto the bed-post....

  • An each-way bet at a big price....

O’Brien is three-pronged in his assault on the race this year....

He saddles the race-favourite Yucatan. He produced a very taking effort in his prep run, he’s on a nice weight and the fact that he’s drawn out wide in stall 23 doesn’t appear to have deterred the market.

He’s a general 11/2 this morning. He clearly has a big chance. But he’s been well-found by the market and this column – which seeks-out live ones at prices – is happy to look elsewhere....

Ryan Moore has opted to ride The Cliffsofmoher. The one-time runner-up in the Epsom Derby went off the boil as a 3yo and his 4yo campaign didn’t provide much to shout about either. But they’ve persevered with him and his two prep runs in Australia both caught the eye....

The problem with him – for me at least – is that he’s carrying enough weight and at the prices I prefer ROSTROPOVICH as an each-way option at 20s....

On the face of it he’s the confirmed third-stringer with Wayne Lordan onboard. And, like Yucatan, he runs out of wide stall....

But I’m not going to let that put me off. Horses have won and run well from wide draws in previous years and the fact is, if you want a price, you must sometimes ignore the factors that put the rest of the market off....

On the plus side of the column, this horse carries a nice weight tomorrow and his prep-run – over what would be an inadequate trip for him  - will have served to sharpen him up no end....

It is dangerous to pigeon-hole any O’Brien G1 runner as a no-hoper. Time and again second, third and even fourth-string contestants from Ballydoyle have proven themselves genuine G1 horses when put into big races at big prices – and this could be another example....

Back in early October, the whole Ballydoyle team turned out to see the horse do a piece of work. There was nothing special about what he did – but afterwards everybody was very keen to talk about how well he had travelled over and afterwards O'Brien's travelling head lad TJ Comerford made a point of telling the press the 3yo was a genuine dark horse for tomorrow’s race....

He revealed that this race has always been the plan for the Frankel colt – a brother to Zoffany – and the Ballydoyle team don’t tend to throw darts speculatively. He’s here – and it won’t be to make up the numbers. You can expect him to be primed to produce....

He’s a G3 winner as recently as September and was only beaten a half-length in the Irish Derby – so he’s got a bit of the necessary class. He’ll have been prepped to peak tomorrow morning and he’s given the impression that a proper trip could suit....

I think he’s got a lot going for him. More than the market believes. And the 20s is an acceptable each-way price....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow morning….

In the Melbourne Cup (04.00 @ Flemington).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – ROSTROPOVICH each-way (20s generally)

That is my take on where the value lies – but you will no doubt have your own ideas and that’s exactly as it should be.

  • The last word….

That’s all from me for now.

I’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow....

Win, lose or draw – enjoy tomorrow morning’s race....

Until next time. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd