Bart Cummings trained Kingston Rule ruled the Melbourne Cup in 1990, setting a record for The Race That Stops A Nation by stopping the clock for the run at 3:16.30.
Could that record fall in 2018, after almost 20 years as the fastest time over 3200 metres at Flemington?
When Kingston Rule won, it was by less than a second under the time Lee Freedman’s Tawrrific required in 1989 of 3:17.10. The year after Kingston Rule, in 1991, another Cummings’ horse, or, we should say mare, Let’s Elope, won in another blazing time of 3:18.90.
For the record, Lets’ Elope owned 1991, winning the Caulfield Cup, along with the MacKinnon and Turnbull Stakes.
Of course, track conditions play a major role in how fast the Melbourne Cup is run. No better example exists than the case of another of Cummings’ horses, consecutive winner from 1974 and 1975 Think Big.
Think Big needed 3:23.10 to win in 1974 and an almost-glacial 3:29.60 in 1975, one of the slowest times recorded for the race.
Along with the large field of 24, handicapping the Melbourne Cup presents a unique challenge, because the race attracts so many forging horses, horses for which it is hard to ascertain form.
Magic Circle is one such, from eight that have left the United Kingdom for the November Melbourne race.
Magic Circle has won eight times from 20 starts and has won his last two by six lengths. The bookies seem to like his chances, with Ladbrokes pricing him at $11, behind Avilius ($9.00) and Yucatan ($8.00).
Yucatan is an Irish horse prepared by Aidan O’Brien. Yucatan won the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield over 2400 metres.
Avilius is another of British extraction and won at 2500 metres at Flemington earlier in October when he took out the Group 3 Bart Cummings. Avilius has done nothing but win since coming down under, including the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes, the Group 3 at Randwick, where he had to beat half of Chris Wallers’ stable, and the Group 3 Premier’s Cup as a short-priced favourite.