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Timeform Recap - 2017 Melbourne Cup Carnival
14 Nov 2017 | Racingandsports.com.au 

Timeform recap all four days of the 2017 Melbourne Cup Carnival from Flemington.

Another Melbourne Cup Carnival is in the books with 487 runners across 37 races making up the best week Australian racing has to offer.

The level of performance across all 487 runners was in line with recent carnivals with the median Timeform rating of 95 for 2017 right on recent averages.

The median run value on Stakes Day matched Derby Day at 100 with the recent changes to the final day making it one of the best cards of the year.

The key difference in 2017 was that the median of 95 was achieved with fewer performances at the top end - 24 horses ran to a Timeform rating of 115 or higher, down on a five year average of 37 - it was a more condensed group.

The story of the 2017 Melbourne Cup Carnival is that it was deep, competitive, and Winx-free.

Seven horses ran to a rating of 120 or higher across four races and they are what we will focus on in the Timeform recap.

Redzel - (Timeform Rating -126)

The Darley Classic was the highest-rating race of the Carnival with the first three past the post responsible for three of the seven ratings across the week to hit the 120 mark. Since the revamp of the week's big sprints in 2005 the Darley Classic has established itself as one of the top races in the land and this can claim to be a strong edition.

Redzel has become bombproof and while a rating of 126 only matches Vega Magic at the top of the Australian sprinting pile he has to be described as more reliable. That's not to throw the boot right into Vega Magic who was below his best both here and in the Manikato but had been remarkably consistent prior to that and should have a successful autumn with a return to 1400m surely on the agenda.

On the world stage Redzel is in the conversation but, flying in the face of ghastly conventional wisdom, the best sprinters in the world at present reside in the UK with Battaash and Harry Angel both having had blistering seasons - they are running north of 130 north of the equator.

Terravista ran to 128 when he won the Classic in 2014 - the highest rated winner of the race not named Black Caviar. He wasn't back to that level on Saturday but he was back in form running to 123 which is a couple of pounds better than his win in the Lightning at the start of the year.

Sustained pressure seems to bring Terravista undone these days but he's still bobbing up and running around this level in races that are relatively low-pressure early.



Redzel and Kerrin McEvoy winning the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m), picture Quentinjlang.com

Rekindling - (Timeform rating - 123)

Two of the seven to breach the 120 mark over the week came in the biggest race of all with Rekindling and Joseph O'Brien knocking off father Aidan O'Brien and Johannes Vermeer to win the Melbourne Cup - the most significant win of the young trainer's career to date.

Rekindling is part of a strong three-year-old staying group in the UK this season having arrived in Australia having most recently contested a St Leger widely regarded as one of the strongest in recent years. The overall time of the St Leger at Doncaster was a very good one and two of the three to beat Rekindling home were already Group 1 winners. The other, Crystal Ocean, might prove to be the best of the lot long term with a strong profile heading into his four-year-old season (one for the blackbook.)

Being a northern hemisphere three-year-old Rekindling is probably better compared to the likes of Mahler and Bondi Beach, who also came to Flemington direct from Doncaster, but that he is the first three-year-old to win the race since 1941 is still noteworthy.

Runner-up Johannes Vermeer ran to 122. The same mark he achieved straight off the plane in the Caulfield Stakes and a couple of pounds to the good of his Caulfield Cup rating where he did briefly concede momentum turning for home - had he not, another 122 was perhaps on the cards.

From the 800m mark the finishing speed (represented as a percentage of overall race speed) was 105%, which is on the steady side, and it certainly paid to be closer to the pace. Given that, Johannes Vermeer looks slightly flattered by the final margin to Rekindling.

Sectional times point to Rekindling possibly being even better with more emphasis on stamina and he should have plenty more to offer in 2018 back in Ireland. They also hint at Johannes Vermeer, despite running to his form at 3200m, having a bright future in Australia back around 2000m.



Rekindling (GB), picture Quentinjlang.com

Tosen Stardom - (Timeform rating - 122+)

Tosen Stardom closed the carnival on a visual high (in truth Tamasa closed the carnival with a visual trainwreck for many 40 minutes later) with his late rally to win the Mackinnon Stakes certainly one for the highlight reel.

Tosen Stardom went into the Mackinnon rated 122 and came out rated 122 but that rating now comes with a '+' attached as the performance could have been much better than rated. Not only did he find traffic but he found a race run slower than ideal for him. His individual finishing speed of 105.8% matches the visual. He finished fast.

This was the first time Tosen Stardom had been to 2000m for over two years and not by design. This spring we have finally seen him string runs together and get to the races with a base underneath him and he has delivered two Group 1 wins. He may be rising seven but there's potentially more to come from Tosen Stardom in the autumn.

The Doncaster 1-2 from last autumn filled the placings. Happy Clapper was, like the winner, finishing fast but again he rated below his best over 2000m. Happy Clapper stays 2000m but probably needs everything to go right to reach the level he typically runs to around the mile. Unfortunately for Happy Clapper things have rarely gone exactly right for him in seven winless tries at the trip.



Tosen Stardom (JPN) and Damien Lane winning the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (2000m), picture Quentinjlang.com

Merchant Navy - (Timeform rating - 120p)

Merchant Navy's late rally off the canvas to win the Coolmore left Tosen Stardom in the shade for visual appeal. He came from the clouds to land a thunderous late blow on a filly who had made all the running in Invincible Star.

Invincible Star tired over the last 200m to add to that visual but she had gone out and set up what was the best overall time of the week. It's well worth noting that while she tired late, she didn't fall in a hole. Merchant Navy had to do something significant to beat her and while it's not the highest rating Coolmore in recent times it looks a rich race for future reference.

The Coolmore was a terrific encapsulation of the week. It may not have had a performance spiralling high up into the 120s but it was hugely competitive and the form looks deep.





Merchant Navy and Mark Zahra winning the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Classic (1200m), picture Quentinjlang.com







 
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