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Timeform ratings expert Gary Crispe has crunched the numbers and come up with his predicted finishing order for the Melbourne Cup. Find out who’s on top and where your Cup fancy fits in.
It seems inevitable that champion trainer Chris Waller will one day add a Melbourne Cup to his trophy cabinet.
That day has come at Flemington on Tuesday, according to one of the nation's most respected form experts. Gary Crispe has used his exclusive Timeform ratings to predict the likely finishing order for the $8m Melbourne Cup (3200m) – and it's Waller's Cup with Finche.
Waller has so far been represented by 18 Melbourne Cup runners for just one placing, Who Shot Thebarman's third in 2015. But with former French galloper Finche, he has an ideal candidate to finally win the Melbourne Cup.
Finche showed a glimpse of his emerging talent last spring with his third in the Geelong Cup before a very good fourth in the Melbourne Cup behind Cross Counter.
He recorded a 119 Timeform rating in the Cup last year which sits just below his peak rating of 120, achieved in France when winning the Group 3 Prix De Reux over 2500m beating a handful of smart stayers including Tiberian and Called To The Bar.
After the Melbourne Cup last year, Waller had Finche gelded and gave the stayer a long spell, missing the autumn to concentrate on setting him for today's big race.
Finche goes into the Cup after four lead-up runs including his win in the Kingston Town Stakes and a narrow loss in the Turnbull Stakes prior to his very good fifth in the Caulfield Cup.
Crispe noted that Finche was three and four wide throughout in the Caulfield Cup but momentarily got to the lead in the straight before eventually being run down near the line.
"Finche is proven over 3200m so he is going to be in this race for a long way,'' Crispe said.
"He has early speed, a big stride and plenty of stamina. The ability to take up a position is obviously a key asset and tactical versatility certainly helps when it comes to trying to win a Melbourne Cup.''
Crispe noted that Constantinople has swept into Cup contention with a similar profile to last year's winner Cross Counter having contested the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood and the Great Voltiguer at York – two major three-year-old prizes over middle distances in the UK summer.
"Cross Counter won the Gordon last year, producing a performance well in advance of Constantinople's 116 rating there,'' Crispe said.
"But Constantinople ran about and looked still very much a work in progress around the tricky Goodwood circuit.''
Constantinople showed signs of improvement in the Great Voltiguer, running to a career high 120 Timeform rating in when chasing a budding superstar in Logician in very high overall figures.
"Both the time and the closing sectionals hinted at this race being a particularly strong contest,'' Crispe said.
"While Cross Counter came to Australia rated 124 Constantinople's 120 rating could quickly be improved upon.''
Constantinople's rate of improvement continued at his Australian debut for new trainer David Hayes when an unlucky fourth behind Mer De Glace in the Caulfield Cup, pushing his Timeform rating to 122.
"With pacifiers, Constantinople showed no sign of the quirks he displayed in Britain, finishing the 2400m off powerfully from 14th on the home turn after encountering plenty of trouble during the race,'' he said.
"This run will bring him on immensely and I feel further improvement can be expected, especially at the roomier Flemington course where he will get every opportunity to become the third northern hemisphere-bred three-year-old to win the Cup in as many years.''
Japanese stayer Mer De Glace has already given locals a taste of his ability with an emphatic victory in the Caulfield Cup.
"Mer de Glace is an exciting prospect but there does remain a slight query over his ability to produce a similar effort in the Melbourne Cup,'' Crispe said.
"He has a received a 1kg penalty and the recent record of Caulfield Cup winners in the Melbourne Cup is poor. Since 2001, 12 have attempted the double - all have missed a place at Flemington.''
Crispe said Vow And Declare's second placing in the Caulfield Cup ensures the stayer must be included among the main Melbourne Cup chances.
"The dour Vow And Declare has been a late Cup candidate, not appearing this spring until the Turnbull Stakes where he ran a surprisingly excellent race for fourth just under two lengths from the winner,'' Crispe said.
"He made further improvement off that last start to finish second in the Caulfield Cup, getting to the line better than most in what was an eye-catching Melbourne Cup trial.
"Only lightly raced, Vow And Declare will relish the step up to 3200m and should make further improvement off his 117 Timeform rating.''
Surprise Baby earned his spot in the race by winning the Bart Cummings at his last run in early October. He is by Shocking, the 2009 Melbourne Cup winner.
"While the quality of the opposition in the Bart Cummings was not overly strong, Surprise Baby shouldered 57kg to victory,'' Crispe said.
"The third placed Wolfe subsequently won the Coongy Handicap at his next run.''
Irish stayer Downdraft was a dominant winner of the Hotham Stakes on Derby Day and is hitting peak form at the right time.
"On a soft racing surface, Downdraft carried 59kgs to an easy victory – the highest weight carried to win the race in 62 years,'' Crispe said.
"Historically, in recent times, horses that carry big weights to win the Hotham invariably run well in the Cup. Last year Prince Of Arran carried 57.5kg to win the Hotham before running a game third behind Cross Counter.''
Trainer Joseph O'Brien bought a fresh Downdraft to Australia who debuted in the Moonee Valley Cup running third to Hunting Horn, validating the 115 Timeform rating he ran at his last prior in Ireland when third in the Irish St Leger Trial behind Southern France.
"The Hotham victory has seen Downdraft push his Timeform rating to a new career peak of 118, the same level that Prince Of Arran ran last year and one of the highest rated winners of the race in recent years,'' Crispe said.
"While son Joseph has already tasted Melbourne Cup success, the race has so far eluded champion trainer Aidan O'Brien who went so close with Johannes Vermeer in the 2017. On Tuesday Aidan runs three, Magic Wand, Il Paradiso and Hunting Horn.''
Crispe said Magic Wand is clearly superior on Timeform ratings and ran well enough in the Cox Plate behind Japanese star Lys Gracieux to keep her under consideration.
Prior to the Cox Plate, Magic Wand has chased home fellow stablemate Magical in the Irish Champion Stakes and Bricks And Mortar in the Arlington Million.
"While unproven at 3200m, generally strong European 2400m form is sufficient for the Cup and as a Ribblesdale Stakes winner, Magic Wand ticks that box but the extreme outside barrier is no help,'' he said.
"Hunting Horn came into Cup considerations winning the Moonee Valley Cup over 2500m last time but will need to make further improvement off his 117 Timeform rating there.
"Il Paradiso is an interesting runner. Only lightly raced, he contested the Irish Derby won by Sovereign after winning a Leopardstown maiden. After failing to measure up there, he then scored over 2400m by 12 lengths at the Curragh in restricted class.
"He then stepped up sharply in grade again to tackle the likes of Stradivarius in the Lonsdale Cup, finishing a handy third and last time out he was well fancied in the St Leger behind Logician but folded badly in the closing stages to finish fifth.
"The way O'Brien has placed this three-year-old seems to indicate he has shown the stable more promise than he has demonstrated on the race track. However, a repeat of the Lonsdale run would see him run a competitive race.''
MELBOURNE CUP — PREDICTED FINISH
#Timeform adjusted ratings as supplied by Gary Crispe
1 Finche 133
2 Constantinople 132
3 Vow And Declare 131
4 Surprise Baby 131
5 Mer De Glace 130
6 Downdraft 130
7 Raymond Tusk 130
8 Mirage Dancer 129
9 Prince Of Arran 129
10 Magic Wand 128
11 Mustajeer 128
12 Cross Counter 127
13 Southern France 127
14 Hunting Horn 127
15 The Chosen One 127
16 Latrobe 126
17 Master Of Reality 125
18 Steel Prince 125
19 Twilight Payment 124
20 Il Paradiso 124
21 Youngstar 124
22 Sound 123
23 Neufbosc 120
24 Rostropovich 118
Online article taken from The Mercury.