Melbourne Cup Trials
As with any major horse race, the Melbourne Cup is no different when it comes to having a number of trials in the lead up to it. It's vital to check the Melbourne Cup form of the horse before placing a bet on it so it is a good idea to check which races they have run and which ones they're entered in for. We've picked out some of the usual races you'll find the Melbourne Cup runners using as preparation, both in Australia and Europe.
Principal Melbourne Cup Prep Races
Caulfield Cup - The Caulfield Cup is run in the lead up to the Melbourne Cup run over one and a half miles. It's a handicap just like the Melbourne Cup and open to three year olds and over. It's often used as a good sighter for horses running in the Melbourne Cup but few have achieved the double in the history of the race.
Cox Plate - Much like the Caulfield Cup the Cox Plate is synonymous as a trial for the Melbourne Cup. This is even despite the fact that the Cox Plate is only run over 10 furlongs, a long way short of the two mile trip needed in the Melbourne Cup. However, six horses have managed the Cox Plate/Melbourne Cup double.
Mackinnon Stakes - The Mackinnon Stakes is a mile and a quarter race run on the Saturday before the Melbourne Gold Cup. Melbourne Cup trainers would tend to use this race as a freshener before the Melbourne Cup but as it's a handicap a winner of this race could be on a good weight for the big one.
Geelong Cup - The Geelong Cup is raced at Geelong Racecourse over 1m4f for all ages and sexes. The race is run towards the end of October every year and has been a very good Melbourne Cup form guide over the past few years.
Victoria Derby - The Victoria Derby is another Group One thoroughbred horse race held during the Melbourne Spring Carnival at Flemington Racecourse. Held on the Saturday before the Melbourne Cup it is a big ask for horses to win both. However, that's exactly what the 2007 winner Efficient acheived, albeit with a year's break in-between having won the Victoria Derby in 2006 and returning a year later and winning the Melbourne Cup.
Lexus Stakes (Saab Quality) - Formally known as the Saab Quality, the race is a Group 3 handicap for horses aged four and over and is seen as a traditional trial for the Melbourne Cup, the winner of which being exempt from any ballot for the big race. Last years winner Moatize went on to take his place in the Melbourne Cup three days later and finsihed 3rd. There has been varying success for Saab Quality winners in recent years with Maybe Better going on to finish 3rd in 2006 and Brew, who managed to do the Saab Quality/Melbourne Cup double in 2000. Check the results from this years Saab Quality in the 2016 Melbourne Cup Form Guide before placing your bets.
Doncaster Cup - The Melbourne Cup Form Trends certainly seem to point at those horses racing in Australia, but in the UK the Doncaster Cup represents as good a Melbourne Cup trial as any with the winner exempt from any ballot for the big race. Not too many winners have made the trip down under over the years, however Septimus trained by Aiden O'Brien and a winner in 2007 made the trip to the Melbourne Cup a year later in 2008 finishing a dissapointing 18th. The late great Persian Punch was a winner of the Doncaster Cup in 2003 but his two appearances in the Melbourne Cup preceded this, finishing third twice in 1998 and 2001.
Irish St Leger - The winner of the Irish St leger is also exempt from any ballot for the Melbourne Cup and has been used as a trial race in the past. The aforementioned Persian Punch finished fourth here in 2001 before his trip to the Melbourne Cup. In 2005 the Irish trained Vinnie Roe finished third in the Irish St Leger before finishing 8th in the Melboune Cup the same year. In 2006 Yeats finished second in the Irish St Leger before travelling to the Melbourne Cup where he finished 7th. This years winner of the Irish St Leger Alandi doesn't look as though he will be making the trip to the Melbourne Cup.