History suggests Criterion, pictured here winning the Caulfield Stakes, can win the Melbourne Cup.
History suggests Criterion, pictured here winning the Caulfield Stakes, can win the Melbourne Cup. JULIAN SMITH/AAP

History weighing against Japanese raider in Melbourne Cup

THE weight of history is against Fame Game in his bid to become the second horse from Japan to take out the Melbourne Cup.

In the past 40 years, 64 Cup runners have carried 57kg or more, with only three of them - Think Big (58.5kg in 1975), Gold And Black (57kg in 1977) and Makybe Diva (58kg in 2005) - able to shoulder those imposts to victory.

Seven of the past nine winners have carried between 54.5kg and 56.5kg, the weight range of numbers four (Our Ivanhowe, 56kg) down to 11 (Who Shot Thebarman, 54.5kg) in this year's race.

Not only will Fame Game have to be every bit as good as his Japanese form suggests he is, topweight Snow Sky (58kg) and Criterion (57.5kg) will also have to defy history to add their names to the list of winners.

One of the other key factors in trying to come up with the likely winner is the lead-up form.

While Snow Sky and Fame Game finished fifth and sixth respectively in the Caulfield Cup at their last starts, Criterion was second in the Cox Plate, a race that has been a better guide to the Melbourne Cup in recent years.

While Japanese horse Delta Blues (2006) was the last winner to have his final lead-up race in the Caulfield Cup, four of the past 10 winners have come through the Cox Plate.

Mighty mare Makybe Diva claimed the double in 2005, Efficient finished ninth in 2007 before winning the Cup, Green Moon was seventh in 2012 and Fiorente was runner-up in 2013 before saluting on the first Tuesday in November.

Apart from Criterion, Hartnell (fifth) and Preferment (ninth) also contested this year's Cox Plate and will have plenty of admirers today.

A win by Preferment would see him become just the second horse since Phar Lap (1931) to win the Melbourne Cup 12 months after taking out the Victoria Derby. The other was Efficient in 1997.

History also shows overseas runners have had a clear edge over the locals since Irish stayer Vintage Crop marked the internationalisation of the race by winning in 1993.

What should be taken into account, however, is that no horse since Vintage Crop has been able to win the great race without having had at least one warm-up run in Australia.

Perhaps surprisingly, a quarter of this year's field - Big Orange, Max Dynamite, Red Cadeaux, Sky Hunter, Kingfisher and Bondi Beach - will go into the race without the benefit of a lead-up run Down Under.

Plenty of sentimental money will no doubt go on 10-year-old English gelding Red Cadeaux.

This will be his fifth start in the Cup, having finished second three times, and he would go into the record books as the oldest winner of the race if he was successful today.
 


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