THIS year’s Melbourne Cup final will be the 21st time the race has been conducted over the 515m distance at Sandown Park.
Zambora Brockie has been installed as the $2.10 favourite with Crownbet from box three, while Outside Pass is second-elect, from box six.
While Zambora Brockie (pictured with trainer Anthony Azzopardi) has excellent credentials and certainly deserves being favourite, he will have to really be at his best on the night if he is to overcome what is really a tough alley in Melbourne Cup history.
So far, of the 20 occasions the race has been run over the 515m trip – that is since 1996 – no greyhound has scored when sporting the white rug.
Sobbing Sal (second 1996), Billy Cruise (second 1998), Devon Road (second 1999), Dutchy’s Angel (third 2000), Coulta Bandit (second 2001), Bounty Lass (second 2003), Nitro Burst (third 2008), and Mr Moorooduc (third 2009) are the only greyhounds to have managed to fill a place from box three over the last 20 runnings.
Indeed, box three doesn’t have a very good record at all in the history of the Melbourne Cup since 1966, when it was no longer a handicap event. In that time, the alley has supplied just five winners: Dynamic Dean (1975), Sydney Dingaan (1985), Speedy Mick (1987), Light Of Fire (1994) and City Blitz (1995).
Equally, the second favourite, Outside Pass, also faces a tough ask, historically, from box six.
Over the last 20 renewals of the Cup, box six has supplied just two winners. The first of these was in 1998 when the great Rapid Journey burst from the alley and left behind a good field and in 2007 when Shanlyn Prince scored a hollow victory.
Is Outside Pass the equal of those two former race stars?
The most successful alley of the last 20 years is box two, which has supplied five winners, ahead of box one, with four winners (all in succession from 2002 to 2005), and boxes four and eight with three apiece.
Worm Burner, the South Australian champion, is in box two, and he will be looking to become the first from his state to annex the prestigious event. He is, as far as I’m aware, the first South Australian greyhound to make the final in 24 years.
The first South Australian to make a Melbourne Cup final was White Panther, who finished a gallant third behind Acclaim Star in 1979. Kate’s A Scandal finished fifth in 1981, while True To Do was third in 1992.
Barton Bale has drawn box one and from an historical perspective looks the ‘best’ chance of taking the race. Admittedly, the last winner to exit the inside alley was Closing Argument in 2005, but the likes of Slater (second 2007), Hanify’s Impact (second 2008), Shereen Bale (second 2011), and Glen Gallon (second 2012) show just how valuable the inside alley always is in a major event.
2016 Group 1 Melbourne Cup – market
1 – Barton Bale $7.50 with Crownbet
2 – Worm Burner $9.50
3 – Zambora Brockie $2.10
4 – Tripum $21
5 – Ando’s Mac $11
6 – Outside Pass $5
7 – Matt Machine $51
8 – Jesaulenko $7.50
1st Res – Blazin’ Bomber $8.50
2nd Res – Bruce Tycoon $34