Is the 2021 Melbourne Cup really Incentivise’s to lose?

Is the 2021 Melbourne Cup really Incentivises to lose
Fri 29th October 2021


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If Incentivise was to win his 10th straight race, and 4th straight Group One, in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup, where would he be placed in the record books? With Sportsbet currently listing him at $2.30, Incentivise is the shortest priced favourite heading into the Cup since Phar Lap. But is he on that sort of level, and should he be that short?

While the formerly Queensland-trained five-year-old gelding has been mighty impressive in his three runs in Melbourne, he has only had one win by more than half a length. In saying that, his Caulfield Cup win was legendary, arrogant to an extent, which is exactly the way that Peter Moody and Brett Prebble would have wanted him to win it. However, doubt begins to creep in considering Moody has said the whole time that the Caulfield Cup was Incentivise’s main goal this preparation, with the Melbourne Cup being somewhat of an afterthought. 

From the first four in the Caulfield Cup, Persan ($26) is the only one pressing on to the big race on first Tuesday in November. He is an honest operator that is always there abouts, evidenced by his 2.5L 5th in last year’s Melbourne Cup, but he hadn’t had the best lead-up into the race, so who did Incentivise really beat? It is pretty telling that an emergency can come in and run a narrow 5th, missing out on a place by less than half a length. This year’s Caulfield Cup field, while full of exceptional home-grown talent, wasn’t quite at the level we have been used to over recent years, with no European-trained horses contesting the mile-and-a-half feature at The Heath. 

However, the test is finally here. Albeit in smaller numbers, the international-contingent has finally arrived and there are some genuine world-class stayers in that mix. Spanish Mission ($6.50) and Twilight Payment ($10) are next in the market, while Sir Lucan ($15) is on the fifth line of betting. While the first two have some of the best staying form in the world, Sir Lucan has just two wins from eight starts, with his best win coming in just a listed race, yet he only has two locals ahead of him in the market whilst being tied with another two, further dispelling the form out of the Caulfield Cup. 

Spanish Mission and Twilight Payment are clearly the main dangers. The former has finished in the top three in each of his last three runs, all at Group Two level or better. He was brought in to second-favouritism, from near $30 to where he is now, after an impressive narrow second-placing to Stradivarius, who is widely regarded as the best stayer in the world. The latter won the Melbourne Cup last year after finishing 3rd in the G1 Irish St Leger his last UK start. This preparation he has contested the same race in his last race before coming over and he finished second, indicating that Twilight Payment could be in better condition now than when he won it last year. 

Despite this, with two of the best international stayers coming to contest the 2021 Melbourne Cup, Ladbrokes have stated that Incentivise still holds approximately 45% of the money bet on the race. Punters must know what they are doing, given the $2.30 odds roughly means that the bookies rate Incentivise as a 43.5% chance of winning the race. Yet, it is still absurd to think that one horse can dominate a market in such a fashion, considering these are the 24 best horses that are fit to compete in the greatest race on our shores. 

For perspective, Spanish Mission’s $6.50 quote means he has a 15.4% chance of winning while Twilight Payment’s $10 mark means he has a 10% chance of winning. If you add in Sir Lucan (6.67%) and Persan (3.85%), the market is telling us that Incentivise has more of a chance of winning than the chances of four of his main rivals combined. 

He is clearly a special talent, but will he live up to the hype, and the short quote about him in the market? Since Makybe Diva, in 2005, only one favourite has gone on to win the Melbourne Cup – can Incentivise buck the trend? Check back in on Sunday morning to find our 2021 Melbourne Cup runner-by-runner preview, along with The Shark’s best Melbourne Cup tips. 

*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of Sportsbet

Tim is a massive follower of Horse Racing, not only in Australia but around the world. Whether it be the champions of the Spring and Autumn Carnivals or following the form lines throughout winter, Tim always has an eye on everything racing. He attempts to get to every Saturday meet he can, with Turnbull Stakes Day at the home of racing, Flemington, being a stand-out! If you want a tipster that follows all form lines, ratings, conditions and weights, not just favourites, Tim is your guy.