Popular horse racing tipster Tony Brassel says the barrier draw for his Melbourne Cup tip, Muntahaa, is “perfect” and has left him even more convinced about the star import’s chances of victory in the $7.3 million race.
Brassel, a regular voice on Sky Racing, is bullish about the Irish horse’s chances after watching him storm to a sensational victory in the Ebor Handicap at York in England in August.
He said barrier 13, which Muntahaa scored in Saturday evening’s draw at Flemington, is the ideal result for the $11 hope.
“It is perfect. He needs a lot of room. He’s a gigantic horse,” Brassel told The New Daily after the draw.
“A wide gate was what I was hoping for and that’s perfect for him.
“When he won the Ebor Handicap, Jim Crowley, the jockey who is onboard on Tuesday, kept him about eight horses away from the pack … he just kept the horse by himself until he hit the first turn and the horse really appreciated a lot of room to move.
“That’s why I was a bit petrified with the barrier draw and I’m pleased he has come up with 13.”
Favourite Yucatan drew barrier 23 and Nick Williams – son of owner Lloyd Williams – did not look pleased with what could be perceived as a difficult draw.
Yucatan drifted from $4.20 to $4.50 in the betting as a result, but Brassel said that while he does not have the horse in his top winning chances, the barrier will not make that much of a difference.
“There is a history of horses starting from outside 15 or 16 and still winning,” he said.
“I wouldn’t think that’s too much of a drawback.”
Why Muntahaa will win
Brassel said Muntahaa’s trainer, John Gosden, will have his horse primed for the race that stops the nation.
“He is arguably the best trainer in the world these days – certainly during 2018, he’s the best trainer,” he said.
“You go through the accomplishments of horses like Enable, Roaring Lion and Cracksman … he’s just an outstanding trainer.
“From the moment I saw him win the Ebor Handicap, Muntahaa just struck me as being the ideal horse for Flemington. He’s a giant of a grey, huge-striding horse and Flemington just looks to be the perfect track for him.
“The Ebor Handicap is the richest staying handicap in Europe, and the way he just obliterated that field suggested that the Melbourne Cup was the ideal target for him after that.”
And what about the 10 weeks between runs for Muntahaa?
Brassel said it should not be an issue.
“It’s a different mindset overseas,” he added.
“Now that the race has become internationalised, it’s shown us Down Under that you can go for considerable periods of time between runs and yet still win the Melbourne Cup.”
The other chances
While the tipster remains very confident about Muntahaa, there are some other horses he fancies to run well.
“Best Solution comes out of the Caulfield Cup. He beat seven horses in the Melbourne Cup field and yet has not been penalised by the handicap, so he comes in beautifully under those conditions,” he said.
“Then there’s Magic Circle … he’s been trained to beat the handicapper.
“He’s only had two races this year and he’s won them both, over 3700m and 3200m, and each time he has shown a distinct gear change.
“That is what you want to see in a Melbourne Cup horse these days. He’d have to be a significant threat.”
Marmelo’s form also impresses Brassel, while he considers Rostropovich a “wildcard play” for those thinking outside the square.
But they will all be chasing Muntahaa, he believes.
And Saturday’s barrier draw just made things that little bit easier.
Melbourne Cup barrier draw
1. Best Solution (barrier 6) – 57.5kg
2. The CliffsofMoher (barrier 9) – 56.5kg
3. Magic Circle (barrier 17) – 56kg
4. Chestnut Coat (barrier 4) – 55.5kg
5. Muntahaa (barrier 13) – 55.5kg
6. Sound Check (barrier 16) – 55.5kg
7. Who Shot Thebarman (barrier 18) – 55.5kg
8. Ace High (barrier 22) – 55kg
9. Marmelo (barrier 10) – 55kg
10. Avilius (barrier 11) – 54.5kg
11. Yucatan (barrier 23) – 54.5kg
12. Auvray (barrier 1) – 54kg
13. Finche (barrier 15) – 54kg
14. Red Cardinal (barrier 5) – 54kg
15. Vengeur Masque (barrier 2) – 54kg
16. Ventura Storm (barrier 7) – 54kg
17. A Prince of Arran (barrier 20) – 53kg
18. Nakeeta (barrier 3) – 53kg
19. Sir Charles Road (barrier 14) – 53kg
20. Zacada (barrier 24) – 53kg
21. Runaway (barrier 12) – 52kg
22. Youngstar (barrier 8) – 51.5kg
23. Cross Counter (barrier 19) – 51kg
24. Rostropovich (barrier 21) – 51kg