With still over two months to go to the 2011 Melbourne Cup it is interesting to note that bookmakers have already installed the first two home in the 2010 race as the most likely to win the race in 2011, they were Americain and Maluckyday.

Of the pair, it is Maluckyday, second in 2011 who currently heads the betting at odds of 14/1 with French Raider, Americain, a 16/1 chance.

Maluckyday is trained by John Hawkes in Sydney and went off as one of the lightweights last year but ran a cracking race, particularly as it was his first effort over the tough two mile distance. In fact, the result may have been different had he not encountered traffic problems in the early stages which prevented from gaining a good early position.

Nonetheless, Maluckyday’s jockey, Luke Nolan, soon had him travelling well and by the time they had reached six furlongs out he was handily placed in tenth place and in front of the eventual winner, Americain. Nolan then picked him up, shook the reins launching him on his run for home from the four furlong pole from where he made good progress with every stride. By the time he had reached the final furlong he was a length down on Americain but did not quite have enough left in the tank to overhaul him. He ended up finishing just under three lengths down but a ½ length in front of race favourite, So You Think.

Trainer Hawkes has kept the horse reasonably busy since that race, giving him a three race Autumn agenda where he ran quite well without winning, the aim of which was to keep him race focussed. He will now be directed towards the Melbourne Cup with a possibility that he will follow the same trial race route to Melbourne as he did in 12 months ago.

The first of those trial runs came in the Listed Tatts Cup at Randwick where he hosed up by four lengths, sending strong messages out that he could be a live Cup contender. He confirmed this in his next race winning the Group Three Lexus Stakes at Flemington by just under two lengths from the highly regarded Linton, a result which saw him go off as the 8/1 second favourite for “The Race that Stops a Nation”.

Should he go on and win Australia’s richest race on the first Tuesday in November he will be joining a very elite band of horses who have returned to Flemington Park to win the Melbourne Cup after finishing second the year before. Only four horses have previously achieved this in the race’s 150 year history, with the last one being Empire Rose who was second in 1987 and who won in 1998.

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