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The lowdown on the British and Irish raiders in the Melbourne Cup

Thomas Hobson: the Ascot Stakes winner is one of three Melbourne Cup contenders for Willie Mullins
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The countdown to the Emirates Melbourne Cup is ticking towards decision time for punters so David Jennings, with the help of his Australian colleague Brad Waters from Racenet, ranks the raiding party from Britain and Ireland with 20 days to go


THOMAS HOBSON 
Trainer Willie Mullins
Current best price 16-1
Biggest ever price 50-1
Recent form Ascot Stakes winner who was denied late by improving three-year-old in Group 2 Doncaster Cup in mid-September
David Jennings says Joao Moreira was booked long ago. Take the hint. Has had only four starts on the Flat for Willie Mullins so is open to more improvement. The faster they go, the better his chance – as he proved in the Ascot Stakes. Has settled in nicely and looks to be Ireland's leading hope.
Brad Waters says Hard to weigh up what he did over an extreme trip at Royal Ascot but the booking of Moreira is very interesting indeed.
What the stable says He was very good at Ascot and ran really well at Doncaster last time, where he almost managed to give a lot of weight away to a good three-year-old. He has been very consistent all year (David Casey, assistant trainer).
Ranking 1st

League of his own: Thomas Hobson runs out an easy winner of the Ascot Stakes under Ryan Moore

WALL OF FIRE 
Trainer
Hugo Palmer
Current best price 16-1
Biggest ever price 66-1
Recent form Finished best of all to take second in the Herbert Power Stakes on first start for over two months.
DJ says The dark horse of the raiders. Geoffrey Freer run is rock-solid form and looks like he is still improving. Only two tries over 2m so open to improvement over the trip. Don't dismiss lightly.
BW says Was hitting the line really hard at the end of the Herbert Power Stakes and there is no reason to think he will not improved for the experience and the step up in trip.
What the stable says He had to give a quality field weight and he very nearly managed to do it. We will freshen him up and shoot the breeze now. We'll let him enjoy himself and make sure he's fresh and well for the big day (Hugo Palmer, trainer).
Ranking 2nd

Wall of Fire: all roads now lead to the Melbourne Cup

JOHANNES VERMEER 
Trainer
Aidan O'Brien
Current best price 10-1
Biggest ever price 50-1
Recent form Flew home to take second in the Ladbrokes Stakes two months after his last Irish appearance when beaten at odds-on by stablemate Spanish Steps in the Group 3 Ballyroan Stakes
DJ says The surprise package of the Internationals so far and looks the one to beat in Saturday's Caulfield Cup after drawing stall two. Melbourne Cup trip must be a worry, though.
BW says Excellent Australian debut at Caulfield but untried over the trip. Class is not an issue, though, and certainly in the right hands.
What the stable says Johannes Vermeer is going to run in the Caulfield Cup. The jockey never knocked him about and he came out of the race so well. It was actually like a piece of work for him. We will see what happens on Saturday before thinking any further ahead (TJ Comerford, travelling head lad).
Ranking 3rd

Johannes Vermeer: just denied by Gailo Chop in the Caulfield Stakes

MARMELO
Trainer
Hughie Morrison
Current best price 16-1
Biggest ever price 40-1
Recent form Arrives on the back of a Group 2 win at Deauville in the Prix Kergorlay, form that was franked by the runner-up Desert Skyline next time
DJ says Has had only ten starts and has been successful on his last two tries over 1m7f. Trip no issue and a decent showing in the Caulfield Cup over an inadequate trip on Saturday would bode very well indeed.
BW says I give Red Cardinal a big chance in the Cup and Marmelo beat him at Deauville so he is very much in my thoughts. Prix Kergorlay usually a good guide for this too so deeply respected.
What the stable says He has settled in great and everything has gone according to plan. He is a good stayer and he ticks plenty of boxes (Thomas Pirie, travelling head lad).
Ranking 4th

Marmelo: reported to be none the worse for his Caulfield Cup effort by travelling head lad Tom Pirie

REKINDLING 
Trainer
Joseph O'Brien
Current best price 20-1
Biggest ever price 50-1
Recent form Beat Wicklow Brave in a Group 2 in July and nothing wrong with his last two runs, chasing home Order Of St George and finishing fourth to Capri in a hot St Leger
DJ says Bold move by all concerned to bring a three-year-old over for such a demanding test but he has taken everything in his stride thus far and his Irish rating of 116 means he must have a massive chance.
BW says I haven't seen much of this guy but his form in Group 1s looks solid so I'm looking forward to seeing what he is made of.
What the stable says He has done really well this season and I was delighted with the way he ran behind Capri in the St Leger at Doncaster (Joseph O'Brien, trainer).
Ranking 5th

Rekindling (second right) wears down Wicklow Brave in the Curragh Cup

MAX DYNAMITE
Trainer
Willie Mullins
Current best price 33-1
Biggest ever price 40-1
Recent form Beaten favourite in the Galway Hurdle but confidence-boosting win on the Flat at Killarney in August
DJ says Hard to forget how close he came to winning off a higher weight in 2015. Talented on his day but Thomas Hobson looks to be Rich Ricci's number one hope.
BW says Could have won in 2015 had things gone his way. Two years older now but 1kg lighter too. Hurdlers do well in Melbourne and he has the Mullins polish.
What the stable says Max lost a lot less weight than he did two years ago so that's pretty good for him. He looks great (David Casey, assistant trainer).
Ranking 6th

Max Dynamite: owner's dark horse

WICKLOW BRAVE
Trainer
Willie Mullins
Current best price 100-1
Biggest ever price 125-1
Recent form Fourth to Order Of St George in the Irish St Leger
DJ says The forgotten horse of the race. Forget his appearance last year as he was drawn in stall 24. Runs in the Caulfield Cup on Saturday and a bright showing there might make 100-1 look a very stupid price indeed.
BW says I'm convinced he will run much better than he did 12 months ago. Different preparation this time and appears to have thrived at Werribee. He is one at a big price that I would be very interested in.
What the stable says Wicklow Brave's in good order and we're really happy with him. He looks super and his work has been good (David Casey, assistant trainer).
Ranking 7th

Wicklow Brave: caused an upset at Punchestown

NAKEETA
Trainer
Iain Jardine
Current best price 33-1
Biggest ever price 100-1
Recent form: Battled bravely to beat favourite Flymetothestars in the Ebor at York in August
DJ says So tenacious when winning the Ebor, this battle-hardened six-year old might just lack the class of some proven Group performers in opposition.
BW says I have to confess, I don't know much about this guy.
What the stable says It would be fantastic to be competitive, which I think he can be. The race will be run to suit him and he goes on quick ground (Iain Jardine, trainer).
Ranking 8th

Nakeeta: the Ebor winner is now guarantee a run in the Melbourne Cup

QEWY 
Trainer
Charlie Appleby
Current best price 50-1
Biggest ever price 50-1
Recent form Managed to beat only one home in the Goodwood Cup in early August
DJ says Hard to be overly excited after a tame effort in the Goodwood Cup so not for me.
BW says Absolutely loves it down here and us locals know him very well after his Geelong Cup triumph last year. He's a huge price but I will be watching him very closely.
What the stable says Qewy is ready to have a crack at trying to win to back-to-back Geelong Cups, which would ensure him a place in local racing history.  I am very happy with how he travelled and settled in (Charlie Appleby, trainer).
Ranking 9th

Qewy holds off Grey Lion to land the Geelong Cup

US ARMY RANGER
Trainer
Joseph O'Brien
Current best price 66-1
Biggest ever price 66-1
Recent form Trailed in last of six in a Group 3 at Leopardstown in mid-September
DJ says An enigma. Has really fallen from grace over the last two seasons and last of all behind Eziyra at Leopatrdstown. Has switched from Aidan to Joseph but he will need to have incredible magic powers to get this fellow to win a Melbourne Cup.
BW says I know he finished second in the Derby at Epsom so he must have an engine but not up to date with his recent form.
What the stable says We are hoping the switch of stables might freshen him up (Joseph O'Brien, trainer).
Ranking 10th

US Army Ranger (right) winning last year's Chester Vase

KIDMENEVER
Trainer
Charlie Appleby
Current best price 200-1
Biggest ever price 200-1
Recent form: Disappointed when only eighth in Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield last Saturday
DJ says Looks sure to make the cut and, even if he does sneak in, would not appeal at all.
BW says He is 53 on the order of entry so it looks like he will struggle to get in. There are plenty of easier options for him.
Ranking 11th

Kidmenever: only number 53 on the Melbourne Cup order of entry at present


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Joao Moreira was booked long ago. Take the hint. The faster they go, the better his chance
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