Your last minute guide to the 2012 Melbourne Cup

Horse racing experts say that weight can stop a train, but that hasn’t stopped the punters rushing to back last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden to go back-to-back in 2012 – despite the fact the French horse will need to carry a record amount of weight to do so.

Dunaden, who won the Caulfield Cup last month and has never been defeated on Australian soil, is the second favourite to win the race behind 2010 winner Americain.

But Dunaden attracted a $50,000 bet at odds of $8 at Monday’s Call of the Card, a traditional pre-race function where the big punters get their chance to place a few early bets.

Lights of Heaven, one of the top Australian hopes, was also well supported, with online betting agency Eskander’s Betstar taking several bets at $21. The agency now has $500,000 on the line.

Another French chance, last year’s runner up Red Cadeaux, was also popular in last minute betting, while Gai Waterhouse-trained Glencadam Gold also received late support.

Betstar racing analyst Michael Horne says the Cup is a wide-open race, with punters struggling to line up the form of the international runners, some of whom will have their first run in Australia in the Cup.

“This is one of the best Cup fields we’ve seen in recent years. The international horses that have been brought to this race mean it is now one of the best staying races in the world.

“But that doesn’t necessarily make it very easy for the punters.”

The sheer amount of prizemoney on offer – a total of $6 million and $3.9 million for first place – means more and more overseas owners have targeted the Cup in the hope of snaring a big payday.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and a member of one of the world’s richest families, will again contest the Cup with his roughie Cavalryman, while Dunaden is owned by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, a member of the ruling family of Qatar.

Irish packaging millionaire Sir Michael Smurfit will be hoping to win his second Melbourne Cup with outsider Galileo’s Choice, while Precedence is owned by Malaysian entrepreneur Dato Tan Chin Nam, who has won the Cup four times.

Australian Rich List members are also importing overseas horses to try and win the Cup. Gerry Ryan, who was valued at $295 million on this year’s BRW Rich 200 list, bought Americain from Europe to win the Cup in 2010, while Lloyd Williams’s two chances, Mourayan and Green Moon, both previously raced in Europe.

Horne is leaning towards overseas runner My Quest for Peace.

“He’ll appreciate the step up to 3200 metres and from the barrier he will get a great run in transit. I think he represents great value.”

He’s put Red Cadeaux in for second, while Australian hope Maluckyday is his tip for third.

And who will SmartCompany be backing?

We are sticking with France’s great hope Dunaden, with Red Cadeaux, Galileo’s Choice and Americain the other big chances.

Enjoy the day, bet sensibly and remember – it’s a work day tomorrow!


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