A Surprise in store? Our Melbourne Cup panel's tips

Expert tips for this year's Melbourne Cup

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As if 2020 hasn't already been difficult enough. Now the annual deep dive through the Melbourne Cup form seems trickier than ever.

Even the form analysts and big punters can undermine the progression of the favourites and key runners for Flemington's two-mile feature.

How are the rest of us battlers and once-a-year tipsters meant to pick it apart?

The class runner, Anthony Van Dyck will have to carry 58.5 kilograms, which would be the most weight to win since the great Makybe Diva in her third Cup in a row in 2005.

Beating Stradivarius in France makes him the standout, but he's never run beyond 2414m.

Aidan O'Brien stablemate Tiger Moth is also well supported, but has only had four career starts and drawn a barrier so wide, he's almost outside the Victorian Covid post-lockdown restrictions.

Surprise Baby had just two starts since an enormous sweeping run from the back to finish fifth in last year's Cup, adding further question marks to the form guide.

And the Chris Waller-trained Very Elleegant, the Caulfield Cup and Turnbull Stakes winner, is the most brilliant in the 24-horse field, but will she have enough petrol in the tank at the end of a gruelling 3200m?

Another shot: Surprise Baby wins the Bart Cummings last year on the way to the Melbourne Cup. He has another shot in the great race on Tuesday. Picture: Reg Ryan/Racing Photos via Getty Images

Another shot: Surprise Baby wins the Bart Cummings last year on the way to the Melbourne Cup. He has another shot in the great race on Tuesday. Picture: Reg Ryan/Racing Photos via Getty Images

Which is exactly where the likes of Prince of Arran, Finche, last year's winner Vow And Declare, Master Of Reality - who passed the post second in 2019, but was relegated to fourth on protest - Steel Prince and Twilight Payment come into the equation.

They'll stay longer than a voter in a US election queue to get a result.

They could yet be there when the whips are literally cracking, but they'll also probably find one or two better than them, like cult hero Red Cadeaux (second in three Cups) used to do.

Avilius wants some rain, which appears unlikely, while Sir Dragonet took out the Cox Plate and has beaten Dashing Willoughby in a Group 3 in England.

Irishman Willie Mullins is having a throw at the stumps with eight-year-old gelding Stratum Albion, whose recent jumps racing form is far removed from the textbook Cup form.

However, if you go off his run in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup, where he was held up and finished off for second over 3219m of flat racing, then maybe he's not hopeless either.

Ashrun backs up after booking his ticket on Saturday and drops eight kilograms as a reward.

It's a fittingly debatable Cup, in these uncertain times, but it's cause to celebrate as racing has provided the great COVID constant while other sport, both elite and amateur, was delayed or even cancelled this year.

MELBOURNE CUP TIPS

GWENDA MARKWELL Leading Kembla Grange trainer

  • 1 ANTHONY VAN DYKE
  • 7 VERY ELLEEGANT
  • 12 PRINCE OF ARRAN
  • Best roughie: 24 PERSAN

CRAIG MORDEY Mercury racing analyst

  • 21 TIGER MOTH
  • 5 SIR DRAGONET
  • 18 ASHRUN
  • Best roughie: 6 TWILIGHT PAYMENT

ADRIAN DOWDLE Kembla Grange bookmaker

  • 15 RUSSIAN CAMELOT
  • 23 MIAMI BOUND
  • 12 PRINCE OF ARRAN
  • Best roughie: 18 ASHRUN

MARIANNE SALIBA Shellharbour mayor

  • 3 VOW AND DECLARE
  • 6 TWILIGHT PAYMENT
  • 7 VERY ELLEEGANT
  • Best roughie: 14 KING OF LEOGRANCE

TANIA BROWN Wollongong deputy Lord Mayor

  • 15 RUSSIAN CAMELOT
  • 21 TIGER MOTH
  • 1 ANTHONY VAN DYKE
  • Best roughie: 20 ETAH JAMES

JACOB TIMPANO Former A-League champion

  • 15 RUSSIAN CAMELOT
  • 21 TIGER MOTH
  • 13 SURPRISE BABY
  • Best roughie: 11 FINCHE

CHRISTINA STARGAZER Astrologer

  • 12 PRINCE OF ARRAN
  • 18 ASHRUN
  • 6 TWILIGHT PAYMENT
  • Best roughie: 9 STRATUM ALBION

CAMERON MEE Mercury sports writer

  • 21 TIGER MOTH
  • 1 ANTHONY VAN DYKE
  • 15 RUSSIAN CAMELOT
  • Best roughie: 2 AVILIUS

JOSH BARTLETT Mercury sports writer

  • 13 SURPRISE BABY
  • 12 PRINCE OF ARRAN
  • 11 FINCHE
  • Best roughie: AVILIUS

TIM BARROW Mercury sports editor

  • 13 SURPRISE BABY
  • 15 RUSSIAN CAMELOT
  • 12 PRINCE OF ARRAN
  • Best roughie: 9 STRATUM ALBION
This story Expert tips for this year's Melbourne Cup first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.