Who will win Australia’s ‘race that stops a nation’? With 2016 W.S. Cox Plate winner and local legend Winx not running, Dubai’s Godolphin stable, with gelding Hartnell, have its best chance yet to take home the Emirates Melbourne Cup, running on Tuesday, November 1st at 3:00 p.m. Melbourne time (12:00 midnight EST or 9:00 p.m. PST on Monday, October 31st). However, Jameka, who impressively won the Caulfield Cup two weeks ago, could well upset Godolphin’s first Cup win.
Often described as Australia’s answer to the Kentucky Derby, the Emirates Melbourne Cup, held at the city’s Flemington racecourse, arguably surpasses the Run for the Roses. The Cup is the world’s best staying handicap event and its richest two-mile race, boasting prize money of AUD $ 6.2 million ($ 4.7 million).
Last year’s the Emirates Melbourne Cup saw a record-setting performance by Prince of Penzance and Michelle Payne, who became the first female jockey to win the Cup. With the seven-year-old gelding suffering from a leg injury and double-Cox Plate winner Winx resting out next week’s race, the current favorite to triumph at Flemington is Hartnell, the five-year-old gelding from the celebrated Godolphin stable in Dubai.
Since its founding by the Emirate’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 1994, Godolphin has been responsible for 211 G1 race wins in 12 different countries, including Australia. Recent Godolphin G1 triumphs Down Under include Contributer’s wins in the 2015 Chipping Norton Stakes and the Ranvet Stakes the same year, as well as Hartnell’s successes in the G1 BMW in 2015 and the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington earlier this month.
Hartnell couldn’t prevent Winx from winning the Cox Plate for a second-time running on October 22nd. However, the 2016 Cox Plate runner-up is now Godolphin’s best chance to win a race that’s always eluded the stable. To date, Godolphin has produced three placegetters in the Melbourne Cup. Their gelding Crime Scene finished 8th in 2009, while Give The Slip and Central Park did even better, as Cup runners-up in 2001 and 1999 respectively.
2016 Cup favorite Hartnell, with current odds of 16/5, offers Godolphin an opportunity to achieve what Give The Slip and Central Park came close to accomplishing well over a decade ago. Whether the five-year-old gelding trained by John O’Shea helps Godolphin bring home the Cup to Dubai will depend on the performance of Jameka. With odds of 9/2, the four-year-old mare with a unique name – trainer and tennis fan Ciaron Maher gave her Serena Williams’ middle name as ‘Serena’ had already been taken – took on Hartnell just weeks ago in the Turnbull Stakes. She was race runner-up.
However, Jameka has some major G1 wins of her own. She achieved an impressive finish, seeing off all rivals, in the Caulfield Cup only a fortnight ago. This and Jameka’s Turnbull Stakes rivalry with Hartnell mean that race fans can expect quite a showdown at Flemington Tuesday.
That said, the Cup has a history of being won by outsiders like Prince of Penzance last year. Could the Hartnell-Jameka duel be sidelined by Almandin (with odds of 10/1), the six-year-old gelding whose trainer Robert Hickmott brought home the Cup in 2012 with Green Moon?
Bondi Beach is another horse to not rule out. The four-year-old colt bred in Ireland, also with current odds of 10/1, will be looking to win the Cup after finishing the race 16th in 2015.
Will, as the bookies predict, the Emirates Melbourne Cup be taken back to Dubai by the Godolphin’s Hartnell, or will Jameka or even Almandin or Bondi Beach manage to stop the stable in its tracks? American race fans can watch and wager on the showdown as it happens by live-streaming the Cup at advance deposit wagering sites such as TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, BetAmerica, WatchandWager, and NYRA Rewards. They can also make the most of their bets by taking advantage of the free form guides and betting tips at www.skyracingworld.com.
About David Haslett
A former Managing Director of Sportech Racing, David was appointed President and CEO of Sky Racing World in April 2014. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company, a subsidiary of Australian wagering firm Tabcorp, provides Australian, New Zealand, South African and South American racing content for simulcast horse-race wagering to multiple North America-facing ADW brands and race-tracks.
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