FABULOUS Flemington lived up to its name across the four-day Melbourne Cup carnival on a track that gave all horses the chance to showcase their wares.
Here is our review of the best performances from the carnival.
MERCHANT NAVY – 102.3:
This race was run at a very fast pace set by Invincible Star. As a guide, the race was run 8L faster than last year’s race won by Flying Artie (107 rating).
Invincible Star (101.8 rating) ran along almost 6L faster on the lead than her prior win at Caulfield and it was just too fast. You could argue it the difference between winning and losing for her.
Merchant Navy’s overall rating of 102.3 is about 1.2L below what we’d consider genuine G1 quality for 3YO’s (105+) but this is a horse that looks like he has more improvement to come.
This was another genuinely run race and the overall figures is about at least 2L below what we’d consider G1 class.
That’s view is supported by both measures on the clock and compressed margins in the field, which saw six horses within 1.3L of each other at the finish.
ACE HIGH: 101.8
This was up from his previous peak of 99.3.
It was a below average race speed and they went very slow from the 800-600m and that suited those within a couple lengths of the lead, which the top three all were.
Ace High’s marked was slightly superior to the 101s recorded by Pried Icon last year and Preferment in 2014, but short of Tarzino’s 103.5 in 2015.
This was a big new peak for this mare, up from 98.1 and it demonstrated the benefit of a more positive in-run position.
In a number of past runs she has regularly been 6 to 8 lengths off the leaders and running home with fast sectionals and/or striking bad luck and not maximising her winning potential.
In this race she was only 4L away at the 800m and 2.9L off them at the 600m and that was the difference as she ran Tom Melbourne down in the last couple of strides.
Had she been six or more lengths back as in the past, she would not have reached him in time.
THE MELBOURNE CUP
A northern hemisphere 3YO, so he’s the equivalent of a late season 3YO here in the month of June.
His 108.5 is a genuine G1 WFA performance and with the benefit of hindsight its little surprise that he won the race given he was in well under WFA.
His performance at the weights was 111.7, which was superior to both Almandin (110.8) and Prince of Penzance (110) in the last two years and right on the 10 year average for the race.
He’ll be returning to Europe, which is a shame because he would be have been a great addition to our WFA ranks in the Autumn, tackling races like the Queen Elizabeth and BMW.
Johannes Vermeer (107.1) returned a big new peak, in another genuine G1 WFA performance.
If he stays in Australia, he will be a great addition to the staying ranks in Australia next autumn, given he’s been effective from 2000m to 3200m in three runs here.
This rating was consistent with Jameka (101) two years ago and superior to Lasqueti Spirit (99) last year. It’s well below what we’d consider genuine G1 quality, but the VRC Oaks often is.
While comparisons can be made with Jameka, that mare improved a genuine 3-4 lengths to reach the heights we saw from her as a Caulfield Cup and BMW winner.
Aloisia was 5.2L below her two previous runs and beaten 3.2 lengths in this race. She clearly wasn’t the same horse on the day, with the market providing some indication of that as she drifted to $1.80 and even further on Betfair.
VENGEUR MASQUE: 101.5
This was up from his previous best of 97.2 at his prior start when a narrow second in the Lexus.
Mike Moroney has done a terrific job with him, improving his rating at each of his last three starts, but he’s still best suited to handicap races going forward.
WHEAL LEISURE deserves mention as she actually rated highest in the race with a 101.9. As a 4YO mare at this stage of the season over a testing 2600m, she actually gave 3kg in weight to Vengeur Masque relative to WFA and was beaten just 1.3L by him.
Her 101.9 is a clear new career peak (up from 96) and pegs her as a staying mare of terrific promise. She’s only had 11 career starts and is still an official 84 rater, which will make her exceptionally hard to beat in any number of Group class handicap races.
He’s been super consistent around that level, running 105 in his last 3 starts, including The Everest.
He did it a little differently here settling a much faster speed in front than recent starts, which gave those behind every possible chance to run him down. Redzel simply had too much sustained speed for them.
He turned back the clock and clearly produces his best up the Flemington straight.
His last 5 ratings up the Flemington straight have been: 103.4, 94.1, 103.5, 103.4 and 104.3;
His last 5 ratings elsewhere are: 91.1, 68.3, 82.5, 99.3 and 97!
TOSEN STARDOM: 103.6
You have to go back to March 2015 where he rated 104.7 behind Contributer in the Ranvet to find a better Australian performance for him.
Notably, it’s the first time he’s been to 2000m in Australia since that same campaign and the first time Darren Weir has been able to go deep into a preparation with him.
This was up on his 102 rating in the Toorak two runs ago.