Our Upper Hunter racing 'experts' look into their 2018 Melbourne Cup crystal ball

MANY pundits are claiming it to be one of the most open Melbourne Cup races in years.

And, it’s hard to argue with them, with the amount of international raiders vying for the prestigious crown at Flemington on Tuesday.

Even our local “experts” have differing opinions.

Muswellbrook Race Club general manager Duane Dowell has jumped on the Godolphin bandwagon – Best Solution (1), Avilius (10) and Cross Counter (23).

“They are having a stellar run of late and are due to win their first Melbourne Cup,” he said.

“Best Solution’s Caulfield Cup victory was much better than it looked.

“He had a tough run throughout and still outstayed them.

“As for Avilius, this might be one year too early for him but has been one of the stars of the spring.

“Cross Counter is lightly-raced with only seven starts.

“However, he has only finished outside of second placing once in Europe.

“He’s on an upward spiral and has an in-form Kerrin McEvoy riding.

“Magic Circle (3) looks a big chance, too.”

Dowell’s counterpart at Scone Heath Courtney has thrown Sound Check (6) into the mix as well.

“He’s an A-grader in Europe who was too far out of his ground in the Caulfield Cup,” the CEO said.

“I’m expecting a big improvement at juicy odds.

“Magic Circle is the one to beat.

“It’s a proven two-miler in any conditions and the race should be run solidly enough to suit this tough European.

“Jockey Corey Brown’s eyeing off two Cups in a row.

“Cross Counter is a lightly-raced four-year-old who won’t know himself with only 51kg.

“He’ll look the winner at some stage though; the last 200m may test.

“Staying supremo Kerrin McEvoy was booked early to ride him.”

Fairfax Media correspondent Grahame Timbrell is having trouble splitting Marmelo (9), Best Solution and Cross Country.

“Marmelo started equal favourite in last year’s Cup and stuck to his guns to run ninth after racing on the pace for most of the trip,” he explained.

“Trainer Hughie Morrison took the horse back to Britain with the express purpose of returning for another crack at this year’s prize.

“He has changed Marmelo’s preparation and, most importantly, has Hugh Bowman, the world’s best jockey, aboard.

“Morrison admits he learned a lot from last year’s exercise, so Marmelo will do as my number one tip.

“But, who could not have been impressed by Best Solution’s win in the Caulfield Cup, his third in succession in Group 1 company?

“The one factor against him is his top weight of 57.5kg.

“However, he is the class runner in the field.

“So, he will do for second while the lightly-weighted Cross Counter could sneak into third.”

2018 Melbourne Cup field

1 BEST SOLUTION (IRE) Pat Cosgrave 6 57.5kg

2 THE CLIFFSOFMOHER (IRE) Ryan Moore 9 56.5kg

3 MAGIC CIRCLE (IRE) Corey Brown 17 56kg

4 CHESTNUT COAT (JPN) Yuga Kawada 4 55.5kg

5 MUNTAHAA (IRE) Jim Crowley 13 55.5kg

6 SOUND CHECK (GER) Jordan Childs 16 55.5kg

7 WHO SHOT THEBARMAN (NZ) Ben Melham 18 55.5kg

8 ACE HIGH Tye Angland 22 55kg

9 MARMELO (GB) Hugh Bowman 10 55kg

10 AVILIUS (GB) Glyn Schofield 11 54.5kg

11 YUCATAN (IRE) James McDonald 23 54.5kg

12 AUVRAY (FR) Tommy Berry 1 54kg

13 FINCHE (GB) Zac Purton 15 54kg

14 RED CARDINAL (IRE) Damien Oliver 5 54kg

15 VENGEUR MASQUE (IRE) Patrick Moloney 2 54kg

16 VENTURA STORM (IRE) Mark Zahra 7 54kg

17 A PRINCE OF ARRAN (GB) Michael Walker 20 53kg

18 NAKEETA (GB) Regan Bayliss 3 53kg

19 SIR CHARLES ROAD Dwayne Dunn 14 53kg

20 ZACADA (NZ) Damian Lane 24 53kg

21 RUNAWAY Stephen Baster 12 52kg

22 YOUNGSTAR Craig Williams 8 51.5kg

23 CROSS COUNTER (GB) Kerrin McEvoy 19 51kg

24 ROSTROPOVICH (IRE) Wayne Lordan 21 51kg