Melbourne Cup: Track bias big worry for Red Cardinal owner

Kerrin McEvoy rides Red Cardinal in trackwork at Werribee. Picture: Joe Armao

Kerrin McEvoy rides Red Cardinal in trackwork at Werribee. Picture: Joe Armao

A potential track bias in favour of leaders and inside, on-pace runners could play a major role in deciding the Melbourne Cup, according to a Hunter connection of Red Cardinal and Big Duke.

Flemington, rated a Good 3 on Monday, raced with the rail in the true position last Saturday for the first time since September 16 and runners on the fresher, inside section thrived. Australian Bloodstock director and form analyst Luke Murrell believes the likes of Red Cardinal, which will start from barrier 23, and favourite Almandin (gate 14) could struggle.

“My biggest concern from a Red Cardinal point of view is the track has been quite hard, and while he’ll handle a firm track, we saw on Saturday that the leaders and those up on the fence near the pace were winning,” Murrell said. “I just hope we get a bit of a fairer track so the best horses can all have their equal chance.

“If the track plays like that, it will certainly suit Big Duke [barrier five] but not those horses out the back. 

“Horses like the favourite, Almandin, he will be back worse than midfield and he’ll be no chance if the track doesn’t start to fair up.”

He believed the surface four horses wide on the inside section was “not as chopped up” on Saturday and a strong headwind down the straight also hurt the chances of horses trying to run on down the outside.

Murrell’s other runner on Tuesday is Articus, which will contest race eight, a $150,000 event over 1800m.

“He will be 100-1 but I think he will run really well,” Murrell said. “He’s only won one race in Australia for us but if he runs anywhere near that, he’ll win that race.”

Australian Bloodstock won the 2014 Melbourne Cup with Protectionist.