2021 Melbourne Cup Runner By Runner Preview, Odds & Tips

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Sun 31st October 2021


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After a massive Derby & Golden Eagle Day, we are pressing on to the big one, the race that stops the nation, the 2021 Melbourne Cup. It may not be the usual field packed with international talent, but there are 24 extremely talented horses set to face the starter, and we have analysed each and every one of them. 

Dabble have Incentivise as $2.45 favourite for the big race, being the shortest priced favourite for the Melbourne Cup since Phar Lap in 1930! He has won three straight Group Ones in Melbourne, including a 3.5L win in the Caulfield Cup, but faces some much tougher opposition in this one. Spanish Mission has been passed fit to run and is on the second line of betting, priced at $9, while Twilight Payment is back to defend his title and is a $12 chance for this year’s Melbourne Cup. 

However, it isn’t just limited to those three. There are plenty of chances in the race and we have dissected each of their chances! Read on below to find out runner by runner preview of the 2021 Melbourne Cup along with The Shark’s Melbourne Cup best tips. 

1. Twilight Payment (2) – $12
Jockey – Jye McNeil
Trainer – Joseph O’Brien

The defending champ is back and is potentially in better form than he was last year. He has contested the G1 2816m Irish St Leger in his last race before coming over in both years, coming third before winning in 2020 but he came second this year and Joseph O’Brien and the camp are extremely happy with his condition coming into this. He will be out the front again, taking plenty of chasing, and could very well give Incentivise a run for his money. 

2. Incentivise (16) – $2.45
Jockey – Brett Prebble
Trainer – Peter Moody

Can Incentivise live up to the hype, and the quote? Being the shortest-priced favourite since Phar Lap is an impressive feat, and he certainly has been impressive, but can you get stuck into him at $2.45 given this is his toughest test to date. In saying that, he has risen to the challenge every time he goes out to run, evidenced by his 3.5L win in the Caulfield Cup when wide throughout. He is definitely the horse to beat, but we are looking to get him beat given the price. 

3. Spanish Mission (14) – $9
Jockey – Craig WIlliams
Trainer – Andrew Balding

The main danger to Incentivise, Spanish Mission, has had a whirlwind lead-up into this year’s Melbourne Cup. After eye-balling Stradivarius last time out, going down by just 0.2L to the best stayer over the last five years, he made his way to Australia only to find himself the face of a vet-check news story. However, after three different examinations he has been passed fit to race and will find a rock hard track, which is important for him to be able to run well. Craig Williams couldn’t win on Winx at the moment, but the UK staying form, which is clearly superior to Australia’s, is hard to argue with. 

4. Verry Elleegant (19) – $12
Jockey – James McDonald
Trainer – Chris Waller

The James McDonald/Chris Waller show continues, this time with Verry Elleegant looking to improve on her 7th in last year’s Melbourne Cup. She hasn’t had quite as good of a lead up to the race as she did last year, but they wouldn’t have put her in the race if they didn’t think she was in good enough condition to win. Two weeks between runs, a good track and equal weights with the main chances may not be the best go for her, but dismiss her at your own peril. 

5. Explosive Jack (4) – $41
Jockey – John Allen
Trainer – Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Has run into Incentivise in all three runs and has only gotten as close as 3.9 lengths. Was potentially found out by a big and more talented field in the Caulfield Cup, which doesn’t bode well for this. John Allen is clearly in exceptional form, winning the last two majors, but is he good enough to get the job done here?

6. The Chosen One (5) – $51
Jockey – Damian Lane
Trainer – Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman

Was a bit flat in the Caulfield Cup, finishing 11.3L off Incentivise there, but is clearly a talented horse. He finished 4th in this race last year and was impressive two runs back in the Herbert Power, but definitely needs to improve to compete here. He is always there abouts and $13 to place seems an alright shout, but is unlikely to be a winning chance. 

7. Delphi (3) – $35
Jockey – Damien Oliver
Trainer – Anthony & Sam Freedman

The market came for him in the Caulfield Cup but he couldn’t back up his Herbert Power win, fading away to finish 13th. He did finish 1st and 2nd in his two runs before that and was backing up off a tough run on a Good3 from the week before, so has room to improve with some more time between runs here. 

8. Ocean Billy (13) – $101
Jockey – Damian Thornton
Trainer – Chris Waller

The Kiwi-raider performed above expectations in the Caulfield Cup, finishing 9th, and is 1/1 at the distance. However, the New Zealand form doesn’t quite stack up the Australian form, let alone the European form as well. 

9. Selino (24) – $126
Jockey – Ron Stewart
Trainer – Chris Waller

Is priced the way he is for a reason. He finished 11.7L off in the Caulfield Cup and now has the widest barrier to overcome here as well. 

10. Johnny Get Angry (22) – $71
Jockey – Lachlan King
Trainer – Denis Pagan

Lots of media attention around Denis Pagan and Johnny Get Angry this week, with Glen Boss saying that he shouldn’t be in the race based on his form. He did win the Derby last year but we are with Bossy on this one, he won’t be a chance. 

11. Knights Order (9) – $151
Jockey – Daniel Stackhouse
Trainer – Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott

He has good early speed but doesn’t seem up to it against these. 

12. Persan (11) – $35
Jockey – Luke Currie
Trainer – Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Persan bounced back into form with a very impressive third in the Caulfield Cup, proving how good of a stayer he is. The camp is flying and he has every chance to improve on his 5th placing from last year. 

13. Carif (8) – $151
Jockey – Blaike McDougall
Trainer – Peter & Paul Snowden

He hasn’t won in over a year and doesn’t look like he will be up to the class here. 

14. Master Of Wine (6) – $91
Jockey – Fred Kersley
Trainer – Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes

Master Of Wine looked back to his best when running third behind Grand Promenade and Tralee Rose two runs back, both of whom are fancied for this, but was no good in the Caulfield Cup. Back to a good track will help but he seems out of his depth, again. 

15. Pondus (1) – $46
Jockey – Rachel King
Trainer – Robert Hickmont

He has lots of followers due to the Robert Hickmont factor, but was disappointing in the Moonee Valley Cup last time out. He does drop 3.5kg from that effort, so can’t be easily dismissed, but Pondus likely won’t be up to it here. 

16. Grand Promenade (21) – $19
Jockey – Kerrin McEvoy
Trainer – Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Could he cause the upset? Grand Promenade comes from the best staying camp in Australia and absolutely loves Flemington, with three wins and a second from five starts. This is clearly his toughest test to date but he is certainly ready for this. 

17. Miami Bound (17) – $151
Jockey – Patrick Moloney
Trainer – Danny O’Brien

Is a very nice stayer but Miami Bound needs a wet track to compete, and she won’t get that here. 

18. Port Guillaume (23) – $151
Jockey – Harry Coffey
Trainer – Ben & JD Hayes

Does have a bit of X-factor and finished off well in the Caulfield Cup but hasn’t finished better than 6th this prep and he is better with some give in the turf as well. 

19. She’s Ideel (20) – $91
Jockey – Craig Newitt
Trainer – Bjorn Baker

She’s Ideel was a fast finisher in the Caulfield Cup but had her preferred wet ground there and won’t get that here. Has been targeting this race the entire prep and there will be a fast tempo up front, but will she be able to catch them late?

20. Future Score (15) – $251 [SCRATCHED]
Jockey – Dean Yendall
Trainer – Matthew Cumani

A sixth placing in the Moonee Valley Cup has been his best effort from three tries this prep and that isn’t good enough to compete in this. 

21. Tralee Rose (12) – $16
Jockey – Dean Holland
Trainer – Symon Wilde

Hasn’t missed the top three in all four runs this prep and was a very impressive winner in the Geelong Cup last start. Tralee Rose drops 4.5kg from that run to 51kg here, which is a massive bonus, and she has finished top three in seven of her nine runs on a good surface, including four wins. This is clearly tougher, but she seems like she will be up to the task. 

22. Floating Artist (10) – $16
Jockey – Teodore Nugent
Trainer – Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Floating Artist was a moral beaten in the Moonee Valley Cup, having no luck in transit but still powering home for second. He is another from the Maher/Eustace camp and has very good form coming into this. Being down at 50kg is a massive bonus and he has been drawn to win. 

23. Great House (7) – $21
Jockey – Michael Dee
Trainer – Chris Waller

Can he complete the Hotham/Melbourne Cup double? Great House has had a very good preparation, winning the Newcastle Cup and running a powerful 5th in the Caulfield Cup. He has proven he is up to it, will be coming for them late and you can’t doubt Chris Waller’s plans for his horses. 

24. Sir Lucan (18) – $23
Jockey – Glen Boss
Trainer – Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott

While he was sweating on his entry into the race, Sir Lucan is another that bring UK staying form into the race. He has Glen Boss on board, which is always a good thing in the main races, and is a full brother to Sir Dragonet, who won the 2020 Cox Plate and ran 6th in last year’s Melbourne Cup. He is lightly raced and was brought over here with this race the main first target, and will be a chance. 

Final Word

Can Incentivise get the job done? Will he justify his price? He is clearly a talented horse and has been stringing some very impressive wins together, but we can’t get stuck in at that quote in one of the best, and toughest, races world-wide. The favourite has only won the Melbourne Cup 20% of the time, with only one favourite winning since Makybe Diva in 2005. 

If we are looking around the favourite, the UK-staying form sticks out like a sore thumb. It is clearly that much better than Australia’s and that was proven by Twilight Payment winning last year, being the third European-raider to win in the last four years. That isn’t saying to just dismiss the locals, with the likes of Tralee Rose, Persan and Floating Artist all having claims to the race, and you can’t doubt Verry Elleegant’s class, especially with James McDonald back on the saddle, but we are looking to the internationals for our winner this year. 

That leaves us with Sir Lucan, Spanish Mission and last year’s winner, Twilight Payment. Sir Lucan doesn’t quite have the same form as the other two, but gets in at 50kg and is under the care of the queen of Australian racing, Gai Waterhouse. Spanish Mission, arguably, has the best form of any horse in the race, winning three back against some very talented horses while taking Stradivarius to a photo finish last start. Then there is Twilight Payment, who won last year’s race and is in better form than he was last year. 

While he has to carry the top weight, he actually drops 4kg from his last two runs and only has 1kg more than Incentivise, Spanish Mission and Verry Elleegant, which isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things. The inside draw means he will be up the front and on the barrier, setting a very fast pace for the others to match, which they may not be able to do. 

The stats are against the top-weighted horse, but the stats do lead toward horses in the front half of fields, as well as internationals, as we have mentioned. We are happy to take a punt on Twilight Payment being able to defend his title, especially since he seems to be in better form and this looks like a much weaker race than the one he won last year. If you have a Rocket Boost available on Dabble, we’d recommend using it to get Twilight Payment’s odds even bigger than what the other bookies are offering, and we are more than happy to take that here. 

Best Melbourne Cup Tip: Twilight Payment – Win ($12)

If you need more news, information and predictions, head over to our Melbourne Cup page for all your punting needs!

*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of Dabble.

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.