This year we have some new blood on the panel. Big Ol' was enthusiastic to say the least in his quest to become a WHAB blogger. Long story short, he offered us a gorilla each for a spot, we probably would have settled for a 6 pack each truth be told but thanks again Big Ol'! A horse racing fanatic with a penchant for Paul Gallen jokes and punting and golf stories about his mates, none of which our readers will have any idea who they are, we think he'll fit right in!
Introducing Big Ol'. Pictured here after Almandin won the Bart Cummings.
THE PROFESSOR'S FOREWORD
I have taken a different approach this year, The only way to make BIG DOLLARS is to talk value so I have just done my section in terms of whether I think a horse is OVER/UNDER the odds.
To me the standout horse is JAMEKA, and I see it as being considerably over the odds.
The second tier horses that are both in the market, and backable at their current prices are:
CURREN MIROTIC/ALMOONQITH/HEARTBREAK CITY/ALMANDIN
The horses that are overs, and BIG odds are:
OUR IVANHOWE/GALLANTE/GRAND MARSHAL/GREY LION/QEWY.
The horse that I am most on the fence on is BIG ORANGE.In terms of the horses that I think are tremendous UNDERS, the two standouts are BONDI BEACH and HARTNELL. These two horses are currently capturing ~30 per cent of the market, and I think they are both absolute poison.
1. BIG ORANGE, Bell/Spencer, (7) 57kg $17
Captain: This guy on form has a legitimate chance. But I won't back it because there have been 40 million internationals run in the Cup without a lead up run in Australia since Vintage Crop and they have all left empty handed.
Professor: Came here last year, led up at a slow tempo and was swamped late. His UK form since has been really good. His form ties in really well through other horses that have run well here (Trip to Paris). I can maybe make excuses for its run last year as it was in significantly worse form, coming off a career worst run in the Lonsdale Cup. It’s on the cusp of receiving some of the Professor’s capital, might just need to get out to $20s.
UNDERS, but I might talk myself into this being OVERS by Tuesday.
Big Ol': On pace type who ran a good race last year and I hear whispers he is better this year. He will have to be, he had the perfect opportunity to win last year when they crawled up front; he loves 3200 and I see him in the top 10...
2. OUR IVANHOWE, Freedmans'/Dunn, (6) 57kg $34
Captain: A few months ago this guy was steamin' to victory in the Doomben Cup. Amazing to think that he has done fuck all since and is equal topweight in the Melbourne Cup! Ha!
Professor: Better than it looked in last year’s Cup. Progressing through a classic Cup prep getting better every start. Not likely but good value at $51. This is just the kind of horse a few schooners and some early wins will make me add to my list.
OVERS, best roughie?
Big Ol': I think he is a good outsider on a bog track; he is a mudder, his father was a mudder; his mother was a mudder..he was born in slop.....if it rains its a top 10 at best for Sir Big Ol'.....if not 15-20...
3. CURREN MIROTIC, Hirata/Berry, (18) 56.5kg $26
Captain: For every Delta Blues that's come out to run in the Cup, there's been a half dozen Hokko Braves. To me, this is a Hokko Brave. Maybe even a Tokai Trick.
Professor: Do you like form around FAME GAME? If you do, I think you would enjoy the stylings of CURREN MIROTIC. In May this year, in the 3,200 metre Tenno Sho he just missed behind the very talented Kitasan Black. Last year in the same race he finished adjacent to Fame Game. That’s his 3,200 metre caper. It’s good. Every other recent start: rubbish, and he seems to have been overlooked as a result.
Big Ol': Tommy Berry locked this ride in a half year ago after the "fastly run-wink wink Captain" Tenno Sho...it was a good effort for a horse that requires Alzheimer's cream and a zimmer frame; he is very hard to catch, but I hear the Japanese want an on pacer type as they are sick of these dawdle Melbourne Cups where the backmarkers have no chance...he jumps from 18 which I hear has never had a winner...I think he can run well, but if he was ever going to win from the front, needed a better draw...top 7 hope...
4. BONDI BEACH, O'Brien/Moore, (5) 56kg $9
Captain: Way too short. No lead up run in Oz. Form looks merely adequate. Since last year's Cup has run in fields of 3,5,6 and 8 runners. There's 24 here, he's going to get bumped and eyeballed and pressured...not to mention Frankie Dettori at some stage making his "winning move". And an Aidan O'Brien/Willams' combination, how will that work? I can't decide whether he will be a late scratching or run the first 6 furlongs faster than the day's sprint race...
Professor: Coming through weaker European form lines, and was pretty poor last year. I can’t find a way to justify the $9, I really can’t. IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.
"Now think about that for one minute..."
UNDERS, massive, massive, massive unders.
Big Ol': Well any horse that J Bird spruiks in a Cup is generally not a chance...Doriemus was very good Bird, but that is all you've ever had (go Might And Power!). He was only 3 years old last year and with the slow tempo, I think it was a forgive...draws barrier 5. I think the owners set him for this a while ago, seems like a good prep, I see him running in the top 8....no chance he gets my hard earned kish though....his name reminds me of Sydney and Paul Gallen too much....
5. EXOSPHERIC, Freedmans'/Oliver, (13) 56kg $21
Captain: Of the Internationals, this is one I don't mind. Mostly because it had a lead up race in the Caulfield Cup where he was solid. He meets Jameka 1.5kg better here. No form above 2400 to speak of, but Caulfield Cup form always counts for something in my book. He's some value at $21.
Professor: Outstayed by Big Orange (himself a staying risk) over 2,400 metres. Good run in the Caulfield Cup but looked to run out of puff. Don’t think it gets the journey.
Big Ol': He ran well in the Caulfield Cup, he looks like he does a bit wrong in his races, but obviously potential there, and at least you know he has travelled well; however, his name is too close to Exosphere and for that I can't have him at all...further, I question 3200m with him....
6. HARTNELL, O'Shea/McDonald, (12) 56kg $5
Captain: The beauty of Hartnell being $5 favourite in this race is that we can all get a much better price on everything else. Because Hartnell doesn't stay a genuine two miles. Going by his two real cracks at it in Oz, he's a better chance to beat Winx in the 2017 Cox Plate than win the 2016 Melbourne Cup.
Professor: The Poor man’s SO YOU THINK! Two 3,200 metre runs both poor: doesn’t stay. Don’t get me wrong I would love to own a poor man’s So You Think, but not on Cup Day (unless it’s running in the James Boags Premium Stakes).
Big Ol': Towelled up Jameka with a great Turnbull run - that is a race at set weights and not WFA and I still can't forget his howler Spring last year. If he settles and doesn't overrace (think Sydney Cup) I think he wins...but he is a fairy, big strong horse that seems to choke on the big occasion....the horse to most remind me of Greg Norman or Wade Ormsby and I thank his owners for putting him in the race - so we all get better odds...I know the Captain agrees..but I think he is still a player....I think he runs in the top 6.
7. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN, Waller/Bowman, (20) 56kg $34
Captain: Thebarman will runwell as he alwaysdoes. I just thinkthat he isnot going aswell as hehas been inpast editions of theCup, at similar oddswith similar formI prefer theMarshal. Big Ol' seemsto think thosetwo are friendsbut I have it ongood authority thatthey hate each other'sguts!
Professor: You know what you are going to get here. A good ride from Balls Out Bowman. A moment 400 metres out of thinking that you are a chance, the realisation that over the last 200 metres he keeps going but doesn’t have the sprint to match it with the best stayers. It’s the WSTB life.
Big Ol': He reminds me of the ultimate club player, a horse of integrity, heart, commitment, he reminds me of Steve "Beaver" Menzies....The horse is all ticker, loves 3200 and ran a huge race a few years ago when 3rd and just behind Red Cadeaux in a great year for the Cup. I see him running over the line with his pal Grand Marshal, a fave of Champ and Malones...If he gets a good run, I see this old marvel running home between 10-15....
8. WICKLOW BRAVE, Mullins/Dettori, (24) 56kg $18
Captain: This is a huge chance because Frankie Dettori doesn't give a flying fuck about anything else when he's riding in a Cup. Took out half the field last year, I see no reason why we won't see a repeat here.
That's right! I took out ten of the fuckers!
I won't back it because it's a hurdler and that's against my religion.
Professor: Went down to Big Orange at Goodwood, and then went out and spanked a good field (including trip to Paris 16 lengths away in third!) in the Irish St Leger on a track with some more give. Get the feeling that the hard track won’t suit at all. This is, dare I say, the exact horse that the Europeans spent years bringing out before they started to get it.
Big Ol': A very interesting runner and maybe one of the best of the International brigade. He loves 3200 and beat Order Of St George in the Group 1 St Leger...He is highly rated and seems to be getting better with age like a good whiskey. I think his chances come down to his ride from the carpark gate of 24...Frankie "Lets Take Out Half The Field On Max Dynamite" Dettori is in the saddle and he does not care who he takes out to get over the line...I think he runs well and comes in the top 9...am I betting on the old Irish veteran? Hold my beer while a kiss your woman!!!!!!...O!!
9. ALMOONQITH, Hayes-Dabernig/Walker, (19) 54.5kg $21
Captain: Still doesn't have a 'u' after the 'q' which makes it untrustworthy. Was "flashing home" in the Caulfield Cup...but in reality wasn't really making any ground on Jameka despite Hall popping the cork on some victory champers over the last 50m. So it was clearly the 2nd best run there, let's not kid ourselves. Has a win over Grand Marshal and Thebarman over 2 miles so he is in with some chance. Can be hard to catch though. But I always like Caulfield Cup form.
Professor: Very unlucky in last year’s shemozzle: they walked and he got within 4 lengths from the back. And the Caulfield Cup run was a good pointer to the 3,200 and the open spaces of Flemington being a good fit. His four runs over the trip were a midfield run behind Cups also-ran Sex Panther in Dubai (works everytime), a midfield effort in the farcical 2015 Cup, a sound win over the B-graders (The Offer, Grand Marshal) at the end of last year’s spring carnival and a midfield Sydney Cup finish when he got far too far back. It stays, it may be at its best but it likely needs a heads up ride from Walker. Badly wants a rock hard track and a cracking tempo.
Big Ol': Well he is a key to this Cup as I have tied his runs in with a lot of the field- to indirectly compare a few of the big chances (i.e Almandin and Almandin!). Came home like a wet sail in the Caufield Cup and that always tells me that he is a good chance. The Captain tells me, from the stewards, that he jarred up in the Bart Cummings and to be weary of him as a form reference. Big Ol' disagrees on that. I have this one in 10-15th place. I know he won the Sandown Cup but I query the merit of that....plus the stewards info of course hey Captain?! I hear the Professor rates Almoonqith as a big show for the Cup, I get that, the Professor has a keen eye and huge respect to the dirty Gallen loving cockroach. I was all over him last year- like a one armed bricklayer in Baghdad, I jumped off his good win at a price last year and therefore I have to stay off...
10. GALLANTE, Hickmott/Shinn, (2) 54.5kg $61
Captain: Before the Moonee Valley Cup I was all over this one. I was convinced the Williamses were up to something. And maybe they still are. Maybe they knew he wouldn't handle the Valley. Maybe it's all part of the Williams' Cup runner process. Maybe they'll slip God a paper bag full of cash and it will piss down rain on Cup day and he'll power through the mud to victory!...***NEWSFLASH*** "Gallante a late scratching for the Cup"...
Professor: After a very strong first up 2nd in the Naturalism he ran an absolute shocker in the Mooney Valley Cup. He demonstrated that he could stay winning the Sydney Cup in April, albeit at a walk (The runs of the beaten brigade- e.g. Grand Marshal are probably better pointers to this race). Probably your best chance to stack them up and give this bunch a hard Prince of Penzancing, so if you can get 100:1 on Cup day I think you should take some of it.
Big Ol': Well I multi-ed this horse with The United States and Winx on Cox Plate day and he let me down. However, he had a tough run with this pink horse pestering him the whole way round Moonee Valley (like J Bird's basketball defence - sweaty, rubbish and annoying). I think it's a forgive run, the Captain rates him highly, I rate the Captain as a horseman highly (less so as a golfer) but I can't forgive him as I would have won $600 plus from that multi. I see him surprising a few with a top 11 finish...
11. GRAND MARSHAL, Waller/Melham, (9) 54.5kg $34
Captain: Strong finish in the Moonee Valley Cup and peaking at the right time. And I hear Waller has set up a "Frankie" obstacle course and has been putting Melham through his paces. It's still no guarantee that they won't get pole-axed at the 300, but I like this guy enough to take the risk at the price.
Professor: Trip proven. Was given no chance in last year’s Cup, and followed it up with a good performance in the Sandown Cup. Was the follow horse from the Sydney Cup in April. In very good form, can win.
Big Ol': The Champs horse, a horse of the people, salutes at great odds and has a huge heart. I have him running with his pal Thebarman, and if it rains I see him surging through the pack for a top 10 finish. Usually I don't rate a horse who was unplaced the year before in a Cup but he had a strong excuse, Dettori almost decapitated the Pumper. He wears Delectation's colours, I like that, I would love to see him run well as I know Champ and Malones will be filthy rich from thereafter...go Marshal!!!!!
12. JAMEKA, Maher/Hall, (3) 54.5kg $7.50
Professor: Jameka is on top from my analysis. Won the Caulfield Cup comfortably, and it is hard to see anything from that race turning the tables (although there are some juicy odds out there!). Coming in to the field are some more internationals (of varying quality) and Hartnell who doesn’t stay the trip. Very well weighted, on trial at the trip but won the Oaks on a bog as a 3 y.o. so it seems like the trip should suit.
Big Ol': What a Caulfield Cup win!!! I knew she would win that but I tried extracting value with Scottish and that move did not work! Sir Big Ol' learns from his mistakes and I have put a $50 bonus bet saver on her as I think she could put in an Ethereal type performance this year -a massive filly, with a trainer with great hair. Is that enough for me? Yes it is, top 3 chance and you will be mad to not put a bet on, that is if you like cash and good hair!!!!
13. HEARTBREAK CITY, Martin/Moreira, (23) 54kg $12
V. Do you reject Satan?
R. I do.
V. And all his works?
R. I do.
R. I do.
V. And all his empty promises?
R. I do.
R. I do.
V. But mostly, do you reject hurdling?
R. I do. Fuck yes I do.
Professor: Definitely stays. I am going to have to rethink my hurdler disdain when it comes to European horses. This guy seemingly used a hurdle win over this trip as conditioning, then went out and absolutely destroyed his opposition in the Ebor which has traditionally been a pretty good lead-up. Then need I mention: JOAO! Who was the first jockey on Derby Day to work out that hard against the grandstand was the place to be? JOAO! If there is going to be a jockey who steals this tactically, it’s going to be one guy: JOAO! Nobody does form better than this guy, so if he is here to ride it you know it’s good! JOAO!
Big Ol': The Magic Man seems confident and this old veteran has put in a few good runs over flats and hurdles. Sir Big Ol' knows only 1 "dirty hurdler" runs well in the Cup and it's not her. I see her missing the jump (like a dirty hurdler) and running in the rear for most of the race. I have her in the back 5 and no chance from the torrid barrier....
14. SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD, Thompson/Spriggs, (14) 54kg $81
Captain: For those of you who are thinking "Wow, this horse has been knighted, it must be good", bear in mind that "Sir" Big Ol' just personally knighted himself here in this guide during his comments on Our Ivanhowe. Knighthoods should be taken with a grain of salt these days...
Professor: Remember when the Metrop was a great form reference? Neither do I. I have been slipped enough Sir John Hawkwood by this guy, never again.
Big Ol': I like this horse. He won from pillar to post in the Metropolitan and Sir Big Ol' ate steak with blue cheese that night. However, the Metrop is a horrible Paul Gallen type race and I think Sir John has a slim chance at best. Needs to turn his form around like Jakkalberry a few years ago (Big Ol' won well off the place with that one!). I see him as a chance to finish between 15-20...
15. EXCESS KNOWLEDGE Waterhouse-Bott/Duric (21) 53.5 $67
Captain: Excess cobalt is this guy's only hope.
Professor: Don’t be fooled by the finishing margin in last year’s Cup, led at a ridiculously slow tempo and was still swamped late. A more genuine pace gives him no chance.
Big Ol': Ran well last year in the Cup, and again like Big Orange had his chance to win up front on a slow tempo. I think he was better last year, however he was ridden from the front and I think he runs better as a drop in horse. I don't see him leading at any point after the clocktower this year....15-20 here gents...
16. BEAUTIFUL ROMANCE, Bin Suroor/Lane, (1) 52.5kg $41
Captain: Every year Bin Suroor brings a horse that shows no evidence two miles suits. Every fucking year. It's like there is a spot reserved in every Cup field for whichever unseasoned, somehow-qualified runner he likes, even though Godolphin have multiples runners every year. Fuck right off!
Professor: I always save the horses I give the lowest number of fucks about until last, and it really shows up in my *analysis.* This horse recently won at Goodwood, which is something I hear Big Ol' has for Almandin. Not winning.
Big Ol': I respect team Godolphin and admire the Sheiks unnerving dedication to winning the great Cup. It's great for racing, it's great if you love blue, but I don't see a Central Park run from her. Damian Lane takes the ride, and I have seen him put too many howlers on Rising Romance in years gone to consider this horse a threat. I have her finishing in J Bird's golf position week in, week out - last....
17. ALMANDIN, Hickmott/McEvoy, (17) 52kg $15
Captain: If he runs two miles he's a chance. The real story here is with Big Ol'. He has a diamond cutter for this horse:
Big Ol' discussing Almandin's Cup campaign at the office
Professor: Two big wins over 2,400 and 2,500 as lead up. While strong he has beaten nothing, so you are having to take it on faith a little bit that this guy can run and win in this class. That said, he has won running away, looks to be a moral to stay the 3,200 and has no weight. From my estimation, probably the biggest overs in the race.
Big Ol': Well punters sit down now as Sir Big Ol' has a few wise words to impart. This horse is a very lightly raced 7 year old, beat Protectionist in the home of lederhosen the year he won the cup by 4 lengths. The highest rated 4 yr old to be imported by Lloyd Williams, a man with a never ending woody for the Cup! Now this horse was in cotton wool for 2 years and I hear has had a lot of TLC and pipe and slippers to get back to his young self. He put in a huge watch run in the Autumn, and Sir Big Ol' has noticed how well he seems to finish off his races of late. He has Kerrin McEvoy on his back, maybe the form jockey of the Spring, and I see him greeting the judge in the top 1 position! I have him on top of the bell-end, and like the Professor, I just hope he gets a good ride from barrier 17. He wins gents and its a "Get On" from Sir Big Ol'......
18. ASSIGN, Hickmott/Mallyon, (22) 52kg $71
Captain: Suspect at the trip, the gate puts the line through him.
Professor: Hasn’t run a bad race since arriving in Australia. In my black book for the Sandown Cup, because he does everything you want of a Sandown Cup winner (stays, turns up), but I don’t think this is his day.
Big Ol': Almandin towelled him up a few starts ago and I see that continuing. However, I see him defying his odds and running in the top 13.....
19. GREY LION, Cumani/Boss, (16) 52kg $34
Captain: Not seasoned enough, and sifting through his form, not good enough.
Professor: Part of the hot tempo at Geelong. Very good run at Geelong. Had a run in Australia to acclimatise. Hard to back them all, but probably OVER the odds.
Big Ol': OTI always runs a good one in the Cup and this horse is no different. The Geelong Cup looked average on paper but it seems like the form and clock might stack up. I see him running in the top 6, as long as he doesn't ogle Francesa Cumani up the straight and decide to head over for cheese and crackers and a good morning trombone! Further, he has a great name and Bossy has the Midas Touch in the Cup at times...just not the greatest judge of future champions......remember when he called Puissance de Lune as the next Makybe Diva? No Bossy no.....
20. OCEANOGRAPHER, Appleby/Schofield, (11) 52kg $6.50
Captain: Won the Lexus and predictably the world went mad with Oceanographer Fever. While I think he is an out and out stayer, this is his 3rd run in 13 days here, and that takes enough edge off for me to say that $6.50 is way too short.
Professor: For the mugs. Chased down the thoroughly average Tom Melbourne to win the Lexus. Relished the red hot tempo and terrible field to hit everybody’s black book after Geelong. I will make this point elsewhere but the best two runs out of Geelong were the two horses that ran it hard up front and fought on best.
Big Ol': I hear he came in under 33.5 secs in the Lexus and that is like our friend Rosberg in the Formula 1! I see him a huge threat.....a minute after the Lexus win Mr Carpenter chucked 1kg on him as quick as CJ "Rory" James is to pipe a huge drive and walk briskly ahead to check if he drove the green on the par 5...and let u know about if for 2 weeks thereafter. I think he puts in a Malucky day type run, however, if he hasn't eaten his Weetbix, he could be a bit tired after running 10k in the last 2 weeks. Comes in 4th-5th...
21. SECRET NUMBER, Bin Suroor/Baster, (10) 52kg $34
Captain: Probably not the worst but not nearly good enough for me to give two shits either.
Professor: What’s your secret number? Is it 24th?
Big Ol': Tried to get in last year but just missed out like poor old Tom Melbourne this year. He is the star Godolphin runner (from the oil region) and I have him looking the winner at some stage...but folding in the last 200m like the Godolphins usually do...Falls apart badly for a 10-15 finish...
22. PENTATHLON, Wheeler/Du Plessis, (4) 51.5kg $101
Captain: Can he swim? Shoot a gun? Wield an epee? Poofter jump over a dressage course? Because the 3200m cross country is going to really test him.
Professor: Beaten by the terrible Rose of Virginia in a down Auckland Cup. Form against the B/C grade stayers moderate. Won’t win.
Big Ol': Probably should not be in the Cup and comes second last....enough said!!
23. QEWY, Appleby/Williams, (15) 51.5k $31
Captain: No 'u' after the 'q'. And a dirty hurdler. A wretched combination.
Qewy sporting his new blinkers
Professor: Beat Oceanographer in the Geelong Cup over 2400 metres. Given that this guy called the tune up front (and it was a cracking tempo), I am inclined to see this as the better horse. I am doubtful that this is good enough to win, but it has the right historical preparation for a European horse, and I am inclined to see this as being OVER the odds.
Big Ol': A very interesting runner and the star "hurdler" of the group. Made the Geelong Cup a true staying test and loves running on the pace. Draws well and I see him making this year's Cup a truly run affair. I see him keeping up the same tempo all the way through and holding on for a 6-11 finish. The runner up in the Beaver Menzies Clubman Award and I respect him immensely....for a dirty hurdler....
24. ROSE OF VIRGINIA, Thompson/Hopes', (8) 51kg $201
Captain: Unlucky in the Lexus when beaten 15.5L, the upside to her is that she'll be nowhere near when Frankie makes his move in the straight.
Professor: Form generally poor, it’s best run (2nd in the Auckland Cup) was a surprise in a down year. Can’t have.
Big Ol': I think this horse should go back to New Zealand and jump dirty hurdles...no chance and the market has shadow priced her ability spot on....third last.....
CAPTAIN'S FINAL SELECTIONS:
3. Grand Marshal
Backing Jameka hard. Boxing these four with Big Orange, Gallante, and Almandin. But mostly, backing Jameka hard!
PROFESSOR'S FINAL SELECTIONS:
3. Heartbreak City
4. Curren Mirotic
BIG OL'S FINAL SELECTIONS:
3. Grey Lion
Good luck all! I'll be counting my stash tomorrow night mwwaaahahahaha!!!