Martin Kelly’s 2016 Melbourne Cup preview
Martin Kelly blog: 2016 Melbourne Cup preview
At The Races broadcaster and horse racing journalist Martin Kelly spoke exclusively to Coral and gave us his 2016 Melbourne Cup preview.
As the most prestigious race Down Under, the Group 1 Flemington showpiece goes to post in the early hours of Tuesday morning UK time.
Familar names to British and Irish audiences entered in Australia include Bondi Beach and Irish St Leger winner Wicklow Brave. Here are Martin’s thoughts on a cracking renewal of the Melbourne Cup…
Bondi Beach always aimed at Melbourne Cup by O’Brien
Time is fast running out for Aidan O’Brien to break the Bobby Frankel record of 25 Group One wins in a season, but Bondi Beach can help him along the way by securing the Emirates Melbourne Cup in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Ryan Moore has jetted in from the UK via Japan to ride Bondi Beach for the first time, as he aims for a second win in the world’s richest handicap following his awesome strike on Protectionist two years ago.
The aptly-named Bondi Beach was here this time last year and finished just 16th in the Cup, but that was after a long campaign which involved his controversial St Leger tussle with Simple Verse.
This year the Melbourne Cup has been the plan all along, and we saw with Found in the Arc that when the Ballydoyle genius targets a specific race then his bullets generally hit the target.
The four-year-old son of Galileo has had a smooth preparation with four starts in Ireland resulting in two wins, while his staying-on fourth last time up at Leopardstown on Irish Champions weekend was most eye-catching.
The step back up to two miles promises to see Bondi Beach flourish and connections must have been delighted when he drew stall five at Saturday’s barrier draw.
Bondi Beach’s work at the quarantine centre may not have excited everyone, and indeed he has looked lethargic at times, but I am fully expecting the spark to be ignited on the big day.
Almandin one of four runners for Melbourne magnate Williams
The Coolmore team have sold a share in the horse to multi-millionaire Melbournian Lloyd Williams, the man who founded the Crown Casino empire in the city, and he will have four runners in the 24-strong field racing for him.
Williams first won the Cup back in 1981 with Just A Dash and has lifted the gold trophy on three further occasions, suggesting it is a race in which he excels.
Indeed, one of the biggest threats to Bondi Beach comes from Williams’ Almandin, a former European runner now in the care of Robert Hickmott.
He boasts a second to Solow amongst his form and even beat Protectionist in Germany the year he came down and triumphed under Moore.
Now aged six, Almandin tightened up on his first two starts for new connections and has won both of his recent outings including a smart strike in the Bart Cummings at Flemington.
His pedigree is packed with stamina so he promises to be suited by the step up to two miles, he carries a light weight and has the insatiable Kerrin McEvoy on his back.
Wicklow Brave and Secret Number can both go well
Willie Mullins should arguably have won the Cup last year with Max Dynamite and his Irish St Leger winner Wicklow Brave has impressed work-watchers at the training track and he should go well, although stall 24 is not ideal for Frankie Dettori’s mount.
And of the bigger prices Saeed Bin Suroor’s Secret Number could surprise a few. Bin Suroor has sent out 21 runners in Melbourne Cups and has three times saddled the runner-up, so knows the type needed.
Secret Number failed to get in to the race 12 months ago but impressed after being gelded on his only start this year at Ayr and he could ruffle a few feathers at decent odds.
Martin’s 2016 Melbourne Cup finishing order
1 Bondi Beach
3 Wicklow Brave
4 Secret Number
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