The weather at the 2017 Melbourne Cup is expected to be less than sunny, though the real storm clouds have gathered above the stables of Harlem and Jon Snow. With the AU$6.25 million Emirates Melbourne Cup set to bring some of the top horses from the Southern Hemisphere together, race stewards have been sizing up the runners.
According to reports, an eye injury for Harlem has cast doubts over his eligibility for the 7 November race. Following an initial assessment by Racing Victoria’s team of vets, Harlem’s trainers, the Hayes brothers and Tom Dabernig, were told their runner will need to pass a second test after the Lexus Stakes.
As ever, when it rains it pours – another prospect has also been forced to prove their fitness after a foot injury. According to the experts, Jon Snow’s forefeet appear to be carrying an injury that could affect him in the race.
For those entrenched in the world of horse racing betting, this scenario will be eerily familiar. Prior to the Caulfield Cup, Bonneval (trained by Murray Baker, who also handles Snow) was tested multiple times for a similar injury before she was eventually given the green light to race despite the major concerns prior to the event.
The news will be concerning for those with an interest in this horse. Before the injury came to light, Jon Snow’s odds were hovering around the 31/1 mark, but the current price at bet365's online bookmaker has him out at 50/1. Similarly, for Harlem, the line at bet365 is 40/1, while other top oddsmakers are a little more optimistic at around 25/1.
While injuries and poor form might be hurting the odds of Harlem and Jon Snow, they’re certainly helping the current favourite Almandin. Lloyd Williams’ horse enters the big race off the back of a strong second place finish at Moonee Valley and a convincing win in the JRA Trophy at Flemington.
That form, coupled with the fact he’ll be ridden by Frankie Dettori, has pushed his price down as low as 11/2 with Paddy Power. For a touch more value, bet365 is currently offering 13/2, but you’ll struggle to find much more in the market for the current favourite. Indeed, with two potential runners out, every inch will count.
As is often the case with the Melbourne Cup, anything could happen in the heat of the moment. Indeed, those looking for better odds and a cheeky win could look to Marmelo. Flying over from the UK, this Hughie Morrison-trained stayer is powerful and more than capable at the weight.
On top of this, a handy win in the G2 Prix De Kergorlay (3000m) proves he can cope with the distance (Melbourne Cup is 3200m). The current betting at a few bookies has Marmelo at 8/1, but a sign of his potential value can be seen at William Hill Sports where he’s actually the favourite at 5/1.
Another thing working in Marmelo’s favour is the fact Almandin will be trying to achieve the near impossible and capture successive Melbourne Cup titles. This hasn’t been done since Makybe Diva won in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
On top of this, a fourth place finish the Bart Cummings last time out certainly shows he’s not unbeatable. Should these things play a factor in the race and Marmelo runs to his potential, we could certainly see the reigning champion beaten.
Looking further down the roster, Tiberian at 20/1 with William Hill could rain on the top prospects’ parade. Despite lacking some of the winner rosettes owned by his peers, Tiberian showed some versatility in winning the G2 Prix De Deauville (2500m).
Breaking with form and running off the pace to come from behind to win, this Alain Couetil-trained runner could offer a surprise if the top performers get into a tangle. Unfortunately, with the meteorologists predicting rain, the track might be a tad slick for Tiberian who prefers a dry surface.
In fact, it’s the weather that could have the biggest impact on the race. When you mix a soft track, a touch of drizzle and 36 horses, things can get ugly. Indeed, if Almandin is going to reclaim his title and become an Aussie racing legend in the process, he’ll need to avoid a number of obstacles at Flemington.
With the smallest of errors amounting to a huge mistake in this race, it will be interesting to see how this year’s favourite comes through the mix on 7 November. If you're looking to get involved in this week's racing action, all you need to do is visit William Hill's online sportsbook today then pick your favourites and wager!