Almandin 11/2 Odds To Go Back-To-Back In Melbourne Cup

This year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup will be all about second chances. After his horse Ulysses was scratched from the Breeders’ Cup Turf race Saturday, legendary jockey Frankie Dettori has jetted to Flemington to achieve a long-overdue win in Australia’s premier staying race. He’ll be making his bid in the $6.2 million AUD ($4.7 million) Cup on favorite and 2016 champion Almandin, who will face pressure from G1 Cox Plate second-place finisher Humidor.

The 2017 edition of the world’s richest two-mile handicap will see Dettori and Almandin take on at least 10 other overseas jockeys and horses at 3:00 pm Melbourne time this Tuesday, Nov. 7th (12:00 midnight EST, or 9:00 pm PST on Monday, Nov. 6th). They include the New Zealand-bred Humidor, who turned up the heat against Winx, the world’s best-ranked turf horse, in last month’s Cox Plate at Moonee Valley.

German-bred gelding Almandin remains the overwhelming favorite, though, with 11/2 odds to repeat his 2016 Melbourne Cup win. This feat has been untouchable since Makybe Diva captured successive wins in 2003 and 2004 before making it a hat-trick in 2005.

Following his 2016 Cup win, Almandin ran a limited campaign this year. But his 2017 results – including placing second in the MSC Signs Handicap at Moonee in August, fourth in the G3 Bart Cummings at Flemington last month and, above all, his impressive win in in the Listed Japan Racing Association Trophy the month before that – have stacked the odds in his favor.

There’s also the Dettori factor. The former Godolphin Racing jockey has clocked up over 3,000 wins in the UK, where the 46-year-old Italian is based. The Melbourne Cup, though, has always eluded him since his first attempt to claim it in 1993, when he rode European champion stayer Drum Taps to finish ninth.

Since then, he’s returned to Flemington 15 times and came closest to winning in 2015 when riding Max Dynamite to second, a length behind winner Prince of Penzance. Riding favorite Almandin this year could be his big chance to break this losing streak.

Dettori and Almandin face most pressure from Humidor and jockey Blake Shinn. There’s a lot of buzz about their chances after they turned last week’s Cox Plate into a narrow escape for Winx. Humidor blazed full-throttle down the home stretch, head-to-head with the Australian champion, though Winx finally took the lead to the winning post. With Humidor nearly causing the upset of the century, his odds have risen to 15/2.

Also in line to deny Almandin a second win is G1 Caulfield Cup-placegetter Marmelo, who has odds of 15/2 too. The British export is carrying the hopes of Hughie Morrison, who is looking to become the first English trainer to win the race. More importantly, he’ll be ridden by Australia’s most famous jockey, Hugh Bowman, who rode Winx to her historic Cox Plate hat-trick last month, and is now pursuing his first Melbourne Cup win.

Bowman knows more than anyone not to write-off Humidor’s chances against both his horse Marmelo and Almandin. “There was no fluke about it – he’s a serious animal,” he told reporters at Moonee after his close-run Cox Plate win.

Of the rest of the field, Johannes Vermeer is now trainer Aidan O’Brien’s best fit for the Cup. Bred in Ireland, the five-year-old has made a habit of almost winning – runner up finishes in this year’s G1 Caulfield Stakes and G3 Ballyroan Stakes – so the talent and potential are clearly there. Johannes Vermeer has odds of 10/1, tied with Belmont Gold Cup-winner Red Cardinal.

Then there’s Hugo Palmer, who is determined to end his season with international glory when he sends G3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes place-getter Wall Of Fire (10/1) to the Cup. He targeted this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup Mile with Home Of The Brave, who ultimately only finished ninth.

The ties between Del Mar and Flemington run even deeper this year, with four-times Breeders’ Cup-winning jockey Olivier Peslier partnering with Tiberian (20/1) for the Melbourne Cup.

Last year’s Melbourne Cup favorite Hartnell, who ultimately only placed third, will continue his rivalry with Almandin. This year has been a mixed bag for the 7-year-old horse. He had a first run in the G2 Lawrence Stakes, second in the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes but only managed ninth in the G1 Ladbrokes Stakes last out. He has odds of 25/1.

US racing fans can live-stream and wager on the major races of the Melbourne Cup Carnival using ADWs such as TVGTwinSpiresXpressbetNYRA BetsWatchandWagerHPIbetAmWager, and BetAmerica. Punters can also pick up free past performances and race information at Sky Racing World.

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, South African and South Korean racing content for simulcast horse-race wagering to multiple North America-facing ADW brands and race-tracks.

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