THE Melbourne Cup is the holy grail for so many British trainers. The “race that stops a nation” has never been won by a UK trainer despite the best efforts of several down the years. Ireland have already won it twice courtesy of Dermot Weld with Vintage Crop and Media Puzzle while France have also been victorious Down Under on a couple of occasions.
North Yorkshire trainer Brian Ellison has always dreamt of winning the Melbourne Cup and he has had thrown a couple of darts at the race in years gone by. He feels he has a perfect type of horse for the race in Seamour, who he has described as the best he has ever trained.
But the six-year-old gelding blotted his copybook in the Northumberland Plate when strongly fancied for the race. He only managed 12th place although he was only five lengths behind the Northumberland Plate winner Higher Power. So glory in Melbourne is looking unlikely unless Seamour bounces back in the Ebor at York in August. He has to win a real big handicap in the UK to go up enough in the ratings to get a place in the Melbourne Cup. It could be win or bust at York.
Royal Ascot winner Big Orange is just one of the UK horses who has come up short in the Melbourne Cup. Twice in fact, finishing fifth in 2015 and 10th last year. After winning a thrilling Ascot Gold Cup last month, many expected connections to target the race for a third time. But trainer Michael Bell has already ruled out another trip Down Under for “Big O” due to his soaring handicap mark and is instead targeting the Goodwood Cup and a possible tilt at Champions Day.
However, while the British struggle to find a suitable contender, the Irish may have unearthed another perfect candidate. Thomas Hobson (pictured above) strolled to victory in the Ascot Stakes before almost completing a memorable Royal Ascot double in the Queen Alexandra three days later.
His trainer Willie Mullins knows how to prepare a horse for the Melbourne Cup. His Max Dynamite was second to Prince of Penzance and Michelle Payne in 2015. After Royal Ascot, Mullins said the Melbourne Cup was the “endgame” for Thomas Hobson and he looks a perfect type for the race.
German trainer Andreas Wohler currently has the ante-post favourite in his yard with Red Cardinal, who won the $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup in the US last month. He is best priced 20/1 for the Cup although as low as 12/1 with some layers.
Thomas Hobson is best priced 20/1 at present although his odds are likely to shorten, while last year’s winner Almandin is also around the 20/1 mark.
Intriguingly, Godolphin’s ultra-talented Frontiersman is also prominent in the market and he could be a formidable raider if Sheikh Mohammed decides to target the race.
Ante-post markets for the Melbourne Cup 2017 are already up and running and for the best horse racing betting sites go here.