Gold Trip, the winner of the 2022 Melbourne Cup, has laid down a marker to Vauban by winning the Turnbull Stakes just weeks before the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
No horse has won the Melbourne Cup since Makybe Diva’s hat-trick between 2003 and 2005. And Gold Trip’s hopes of joining the elite band were widely written off after being made top weight for the race on 7th November.
His Turnbull Stakes win has forced betting sites into a rethink, though, with melbourne-cup.online confirming Gold Trip’s odds for the Race that Stops the Nation – so-called because of the way it captures the Australian public’s imagination – have been slashed from 25/1 to just 8/1.
Despite that, it’s Vauban who looks certain to go off as the clear favorite to win one of the world’s richest flat races, with legendary jumps trainer Willie Mullins targeting what would be his biggest achievement on the flat racing scene.
Mullins, who boasts a remarkable 94 wins at the Cheltenham Festival, explained his reasoning. “As flat racing goes, this is probably as high as we’d go, that or maybe a Gold Cup horse in Ascot or the Prix du Cadran in Paris. The nature of this race [Melbourne Cup] helps us – and there’s the small matter of eight million Australian dollars too!”
Vauban’s flat racing season has gone perfectly to date, winning the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot to secure his spot in the Melbourne Cup before following it up with another victory at Naas.
And any concerns with how he’d cope with the long trip over from Europe to Australia were put to rest, with Mullins’ assistant David Casey confirming, “He traveled well, it seems he’s eating and drinking since he came and arrived.
He didn’t lose a lot of weight, and he’s put it all back on since he came… we’re delighted to be taking part and obviously hopefully with a horse that can be competitive.”
If Casey is coming across with a cautious optimism, there’s little doubt about the eventual race winner according to racing broadcaster Matt Chapman, who is known for his outspoken views. “It’s quite possible there’s no point even running the race…the Australian handicappers may well be looking like absolute bananas on the first Tuesday in November”.
Betting sites echo Chapman’s thoughts, with Vauban now no bigger than 7/2 to claim the Melbourne Cup, while stablemate Absurde, who has also travelled across for the big race, may even make it a better night for the Mullins camp, and is a live contender at 16/1.
Selected Melbourne Cup odds* according to melbourne-cup.online:
Vauban – 7/2
Soulcombe – 8/1
Gold Trip – 8/1
Breakup – 14/1
Just Fine – 14/1
Francesco Guardi – 16/1
Absurde – 16/1
Without a Fight – 16/1
*Odds correct at 5 pm on 10th October 2023