Melbourne Cup 2015: English stayers poised to win great race, says Jim McGrath


THEY won the Ashes back earlier this year and now the English are about to take home the Melbourne Cup.

After nearly two decades of fruitless endeavour and frustrating near-misses, persistence is about to pay off at Flemington on Tuesday.

Five English-based trainers are represented by six stayers in the big race — Trip To Paris and Red Cadeaux (Ed Dunlop), Snow Sky (Sir Michael Stoute), Big Orange (Michael Bell), Sky Hunter (Saeed Bin Suroor) and Quest For More (Roger Charlton) — and Trip To Paris is the stayer most likely to win the Melbourne Cup.

At least that is the opinion of Jim McGrath, the Australian journalist and former BBC racecaller who has called England home since 1984, and is an authority on the British raiders and Melbourne Cup.

McGrath was just a four-year-old and was at Flemington when Evening Peal won the 1956 Melbourne Cup, he remembers the great Galilee’s win in 1966, and he called the race 20 times for the BBC.

He knows what it takes to win a Melbourne Cup and has identified Dunlop’s Trip To Paris as the horse to beat. Trip To Paris is the reigning Ascot Gold Cup (4023m) winner and has the necessary powers of acceleration to win the Melbourne Cup, according to McGrath.

“I must say that Trip To Paris is very, very uncharacteristic of an Ascot Gold Cup winner,’’ McGrath said. “He is not the one-paced, grinding stayer that typically wins the Ascot Gold Cup, he has a very good turn of foot.

“He showed that with his second in the Caulfield Cup, I like the way he has been working at Werribee and I like the way he looks in the coat. Trip To Paris has the perfect qualifications for the Melbourne Cup — he is a great winning chance.’’

McGrath said the ageless Red Cadeaux, runner-up in the 2011, 2013 and 2014 Melbourne Cups will be among the placings again.

“I am definitely putting Red Cadeaux in my trifectas,’’ McGrath said. “This horse grows another leg at Flemington, he loves the course, loves the occasion.

“He is a horse that peaks at this time of the year and he looks as well as he ever has at Werribee. He should not be discounted at any price.’’

McGrath has forecast the internationals running 1-2-3 on Tuesday with Irish stayer Max Dynamite splitting the Dunlop pair. Max Dynamite was a last-start Londsdale Cup winner at York, leaving Trip To Paris nearly 12 lengths behind.

“This horse’s Lonsdale Cup win was very impressive,’’ McGrath said. “He is a horse with good staying ability and he will run a race.’’

Japanese stayer Fame Game is a dominant $3.20 favourite for the Melbourne Cup — which McGrath believes is way under the odds.

“My comment on Fame Game would be that he seemed to be running on nicely in the Caulfield Cup,’’ McGrath said of the stayer’s fast finishing sixth.

“I can understand why a lot of people assume he will find the two miles at Flemington more to his liking but with 57kg, he will have to be one of the great stayers of modern times to win it.

“Hokko Brave covered extra ground in the Caulfield Cup but it would appear he is the second choice of the Japanese runners.’’

Snow Sky is the race topweight with 58kg and was solid in the Caulfield Cup when he held his ground late finishing fifth to Mongolian Khan.

McGrath described Snow Sky as a “tough stayer” with each way claims.

“Snow Sky, I thought, was caught a little flat-footed in the Caulfield Cup,’’ he said. “He will stay the trip right to the end and Sir Michael Stoute, one of the great trainers in the world, knows what is required for this race.’’

McGrath nominated Bondi Beach over Kingfisher as the pick of Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien’s two Cup runners.

“What we know about Bondi Beach is he is tough and streetwise,’’ McGrath said. “He got into a bumping duel in the St Leger at Doncaster and he knuckled down really well.

“It is an unknown how he will handle the occasion on Cup Day as he is a young, inexperienced horse, but I still feel a good staying European three-year-old with a lightweight has the right attributes for the race.

“Kingfisher was terrific in the Ascot Gold Cup, some even say he was unlucky, but his subsequent performances lead me to believe he may lack a bit of class.

Big Orange and Sky Hunter have been flying under the radar in Melbourne this spring but McGrath said both stayers should not be underestimated.

“Michael Bell trains Big Orange and he is a very capable horseman, he has won a (English) Derby with Motivator and he has also trained an Oaks winner,’’ McGrath said. “Big Orange is a really good stayer but a grinding stayer, he is not one who quickens so he will need to have a very fast pace up front.

“Sky Hunter is from Godolphin and a hard horse to assess. He did win the Dubai Gold Cup, which was a good staying performance.’’

Quest For More split Big Orange and Trip To Paris in the Goodwood Cup but he ran poorly in the Geelong Cup, finishing only 16th behind Almoonquith. “He drew wide and did lose a shoe at Geelong so the connections are clinging to those reasons for his run,’’ McGrath said.

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