Melbourne Cup 2023 news, Vauban favourite odds, why rival trainers are gushing

If the hype is to be believed, the Melbourne Cup may as well be handed to Vauban right now and the 2023 race scrapped to save punters and rival connections the bother.

The European superstar is the talk of the town despite never racing in Australia before, and even trainers of other Cup contenders have been wowed by the Willie Mullins gelding.

Whispers from eagle-eyed trackwork watchers at Flemington suggest Vauban is one of the classiest runners to ever travel Down Under for a shot at the $8 million race that stops a nation.

FORM GUIDE: Expert’s comprehensive analysis on 2023 Melbourne Cup runners

ANALYSIS: How every Cup contender can beat ‘sight to behold’ Vauban

ULTIMATE GUIDE: Everything to know about the 2023 Melbourne spring carnival

”I think it’s as good a thing as I’ve seen in the Melbourne Cup, that I can remember,” prominent owner Nick Williams – who has Serpentine and Cleveland in this year’s race – said of Vauban at the weekend.

“This is a tough, older horse. This is a properly seasoned, beautifully conditioned horse.”

Williams knows a thing or two about Melbourne Cup-winning horses, with his famous father Lloyd having claimed the trophy seven times to date.

Vauban set tongues wagging with a dominant 7.5-length victory at Royal Ascot in June (watch in the video player at the top of the page), and backed that up by winning a Group 3 in Ireland in August.

While he’s lightly raced compared to some of his Melbourne Cup rivals, his trackwork runs since arriving in Australia have created plenty of buzz.

Top Australian trainer Ciaron Maher – who along with co-trainer David Eustace has five runners contesting the 2023 Cup – couldn’t have been more impressed after watching Vauban work out over the weekend.

“I was out there (on Saturday)… both horses (Vauban and stablemate Absurde) looked in great order and nearly every horse in Willie’s stable would be two-milers,” Maher said.

“They’re very good at it. He’ll definitely make his presence felt.”

Champion Irish horseman Mullins has been rather luckless in Melbourne’s feature event to date, although Max Dynamite ran a place both in 2015 and 2017.

READ MORE: Office sweep to print out and use for ‘the race that stops a nation’

But he reckons the 2023 favourite is streets ahead of any other contender he’s brought to Australia.

“He’s the best chance we’ve ever had and will ever have,” Mullins said of Vauban.

“Everything has gone right… The quarantine has gone right, the draw’s gone right.

“We just need to break (jump) now and get into a position, but I’ll leave that to the jockeys. They know the track and opposition better than I do.”

Vauban was crunched to as short as $3.30 with bookmakers on Sunday after drawing barrier three, but on Monday was drifting in the markets as punters rushed to get on Caulfield Cup winner Without A Fight.

Favourites don’t historically have it easy in the Cup. Only one favourite since Makybe Diva’s 2005 run has actually won the race – Fiorente was the last in 2013, paying $7.

But the weight of expectation on Vauban doesn’t match the weight on his back, with his 55kg significantly less than top rivals Gold Trip (58.5kg) and Without A Fight (56.5kg).

READ MORE: Full list of Melbourne Cup 2023 scratchings

Two-time Melbourne Cup winning syndicator Jamie Lovett certainly can’t find fault with Vauban’s chances, though.

“He is a high-quality horse, has a world-class trainer that has targeted the race and he gets (jockey) Ryan Moore. There’s not a lot to really pot him on,” Lovett – who has Gold Trip, Lastotchka, and Ashrun in the race – said of Vauban.

While the majority of horse racing experts like the look of Vauban, there is one man who is far less impressed.

Australian Bloodstock co-founder Luke Murrell told News Corp the price for Vauban is well under what it should be.

“If we look at his Ascot win, he should be in the $11 to $15 range,” Murrell told The Australian.

“Visually it looked good, but there was no real rating of the race at all. He was eased down but if something had gone with him, I don’t think he had another two lengths up his sleeve.

“His sectional (time) that day was very much slower than anything else. On his Royal Ascot run, you couldn’t buy him to win a Gosford Cup.”

Only time will tell if Vauban’s short price is justified in Australia’s great race.

You may also like...