If you thought Talismanic's Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T)-winning form was good, Marmelo and Tiberian should figure prominently in the AU$6 million Emirates Melbourne Cup Nov. 7 at Flemington Racecourse.
Both horses have raced well against Talismanic in France this year, and—in the case of Tiberian—beaten him.
With 23 horses running and plenty of form, the two-mile Cup is never an easy race to pick, but form against Talismanic should be worth noting.
Marmelo, a 4-year-old Duke of Marmalade colt, trained by Hughie Morrison in England, is the favorite with many Australian oddsmakers at around 7-1. He raced once against Talismanic this season, finishing second to the subsequent Breeders' Cup Turf winner in the 1 3/4-mile Prix Maurice de Nieuil (G2) by 1 1/4 lengths.
He then won the 1 7/8-mile Darley Prix Kergolay (G2) from subsequent Doncaster Cup Stakes (G2) winner Desert Skyline, and then made up ground very well to finish sixth to Boom Time in the 1 1/2-mile BMW Caulfield Cup (G1). The Prix Kergolay has been a good prep to the Melbourne Cup in the past, and Marmelo has the benefit of being very capable on good footing.
Tiberian, by the teaser stallion Tiberius Caesar (FR), has run five times this year for four victories. They include consecutive races in which he relegated Talismanic into second place—though both were on soft footing, ground that Talismanic does not relish.
Tiberian, however, won twice in August on good ground, including the 1 9/16-mile Lucien Barriere Grand Prix de Deauville (G2). He has won up to 1 7/8 miles.
The form around Talismanic and Marmelo also works well for Thomas Hobson, second in the Doncaster Cup over 2 1/4 miles. One of three runners trained by Irishman Willie Mullins, he is lightly weighted but there will be questions of whether he's sharp enough as most of his form is at 2 1/4 miles and beyond.
Contesting favoritism with Marmelo is last year's winner Almandin, one of six runners owned or co-owned by five-time Cup winner Lloyd Williams. Almandin, a son of Monsun, is in good form but will carry more weight than last year. Humidor is also expected to be among the favorites though there is doubt over his stamina. If the Teofilo gelding repeats his outstanding run for second place in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate (G1) behind Winx, he will be right at the finish.
The O'Brien family of Ireland has three runners. Aidan O'Brien saddles Johannes Vermeer, who will be a great chance following his Caulfield Cup third-place finish. His son Joseph brings the out-of-form 2016 Investec Derby (G1) at Epsom runner-up US Army Ranger and this year's William Hill St Leger Stakes (G1) fourth-place finisher Rekindling.
Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (G1T) winner Red Cardinal is lined up by German trainer Andreas Wohler, who won with Protectionist in 2014. Another threat is the English-trained Wall Of Fire, second in the Ladbrokes Herbert Power Stakes (G2) Oct. 14.
Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time and runner-up Single Gaze can't be ignored, even though their breeding suggests they would have trouble with one mile, let alone two. Amelie's Star is one of the most promising of the other locals.