IT'S never easy sifting through the 22 horses in Caulfield Cup field, so CupsBetting has made it easier for punters looking for real value this Saturday.
The $3 million Caulfield Cup is one of the highlights of the Melbourne Spring Carnival. It is a key lead-in race to the 2015 Melbourne Cup.
22 runners have been accepted, the final market has been released and punters can snap up the great value being offered by bookmakers.
Kicking off our runner-by-runner guide is last year's Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist, which hasn't been fancied in the market.
2015 Caulfield Cup runner-by-runner guide
1. Protectionist – $51
Trainer: Kris Lees
Jockey: Brenton Avdulla
The 2014 Melbourne Cup winner looked set for a big campaign, but the former import just hasn't stretched out this time around.
Its three starts this campaign have featured two duck eggs and an eighth in the Group 1 George Main Stakes, but punters might want to wait till it gets over 3200 metres in November for its best chance to win.
It opened at $41 in the market and has since drifted to $51. We expect its price to continue to drift and sit somewhere around the $60 mark on Saturday.
Projected finish: 18th
2. Snow Sky – $11
Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute
Jockey: Damien Oliver
Snow Sky is a top quality imported runner for champion trainer Sir Michael Stoute.
That was run over 2414 metres which bodes well for this race, but its best form might be over longer distances as its form suggests.
It scored a highly-rated win over the late Brown Panther in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup which was run over 2816 metres. That looms as a good guide for the Melbourne Cup, but for punters wanting to back Snow Sky in the Caulfield Cup, it still has winning credentials.
It has big race experience – finishing seventh in the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase, and it looks to have a very big future ahead of it.
It is currently an $11 chance with bookmakers, representing good each way value.
Projected finish: 6th
3. Fame Game – $11
Trainer: Yoshitada Munakata
Jockey: Zac Purton
The Japanese horse is a five-time winner from 16 starts and it has won an incredible $2.8 million. The son of Heart's Cry hasn't raced since finishing second in the Group 1 Tenno Sho behind Gold Ship which is a great formline.
There are concerns about whether this distance is ideal, with jockey Zac Purton stating that it felt like the 2400-metre distance would be too short for it.
It did win on a fast track over 2500 metres four starts back by 2.5 lengths, but its last two starts have come over 3400 and 3200 metres.
It looks a good chance in the Melbourne Cup, but we're prepared to risk it at $11 for this.
Projected finish: 10th
4. Our Ivanhowe – $26
Trainer: Lee and Anthony Freeman
Jockey: Ben Melham
The six-year-old import had been very disappointing in two Australian runs, but it showed its true ability with a second placing in the Group 3 Bart Cummings last start.
That was a much improved run and its odds got slashed because of it. No punters wanted to touch the Freedman-trained horse, but now it has attracted some support at $26.
It was good enough to win over this distance in Germany in the Group 1 Von Bayern last November. It has won at the 2400-metre distance on three occasions and despite drawing wide in barrier 17, its place chances appear moderate.
Projected finish: 11th
5. Hokko Brave – $15
Trainer: Yasutoshi Matsunaga
Jockey: Craig Williams
Another Japanese runner which has been dealt a harsh blow in the barrier draw. The eight-year-old has drawn barrier 19 which makes it much tougher, but punters still rate it a winning chance.
It has won only five races from 29 starts with two of those coming over this distance. It last raced in the Group 1 Tenno Sho where it finished 1.8 lengths behind Gold Ship, but dropping back in distance won't be ideal for this.
With the Caulfield track being rated good, this significantly helps its chances as all its form has come on a rock-hard track.
Its best attribute is the weight of 55.5kg with Craig Williams in the saddle. It drops down from 58kg last time out and that makes it a major player in this. Williams knows how to win on international horses and punters of Hokko Brave are keen to have him riding.
Could be another preparing for the Melbourne Cup.
Projected finish: 12th
6. Mongolian Khan – $4.20
Trainer: Murray Baker
Jockey: Opie Bosson
The current favourite and totally deserved. The New Zealand runner has prepared beautifully for the Caulfield Cup with a last start third in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes and it didn't get much luck during the running.
The four-year-old has won seven from 12 and it has an ATC Derby beside its name. From barrier nine it will likely find a handy position in the running and produce a sustained run leading into the straight.
Whilst many Caulfield Cup runners are preparing for the first Tuesday in November, Mongolian Khan is preparing for this and even though the $4.20 is short, it looks to be a very good bet.
Projected finish: 1st
7. Trip To Paris – $21
Trainer: Ed Dunlop
Jockey: Tommy Berry
Trip To Paris is a lightly tried five-year-old which was disappointing when finishing fifth in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup at York, where it was 11.5 lengths from the winner.
Its best start to date was three back where it won the Group 1 Gold Cup at Ascot during the Royal Ascot carnival, but that was over 4023 metres.
It has won twice from five starts at this distance and whilst dropping back from its last start of 3300 metres is a big concern, it appears to have a fair amount of adaptability.
Projected finish: 9th
8. Who Shot Thebarman – $26
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Blake Shinn
Chris Waller has three entrants in the Caulfield Cup and Who Shot Thebarman looms as a nice each way chance at a good price.
The seven-year-old has won only once over this distance and its major race this spring is the Melbourne Cup, but Waller is happy with how it has been working and it could benefit from a hot tempo in front.
It didn't get any favours in the barrier draw after receiving barrier 21, which means it will have to drop right back in the field and hope to get some luck in the concluding stages.
We can see the former New Zealander getting back and running on nicely which will be a great indicator for the upcoming Melbourne Cup.
Projected finish: 7th
9. Grand Marshal – $51
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Jim Cassidy
Another Chris Waller-trained runner which has very little hope of winning this race. Waller has said it will need the run to prepare for the Melbourne Cup and the punters seemingly agree with those thoughts.
The son of Dansili burst onto the scene with a win in the Group 1 Sydney Cup last season and it did run on well over 2000 metres last time out.
It does have quality about it and the weight of 53.5kg helps its chances, but it will be at much shorter odds on the first Tuesday in November so we'll wait for then.
Projected finish: 16th
10. Royal Descent – $21
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Glen Boss
The third of the Waller trio and the best winning chance of the three. Royal Descent has a very good form line and it is looking to go one better than its second place finish in 2013.
Bookmakers had it at $7 in 2013, but they are offering $21 this year in what looks like a great value chance. The six-year-old has strengthened up plenty over the past two years and it narrowly got defeated last start in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes.
It has drawn barrier 22 which is a major concern for punters. It will take a masterful ride from Glen Boss to find a spot with cover, but if anyone knows how to ride in big races, it's Glen Boss.
With some luck. Royal Descent can be a top four chance.
Projected finish: 5th
11. Volkstok'n'barrel – $21
Trainer: Donna Logan
Jockey: Craig Newitt
The New Zealand runner hasn't quite had the preparation many were expecting, but trainer Donna Logan did mention that the four-year-old is a lazy worker and it would need some time to mature this campaign.
Going in its favour is that it finished third behind Mongolian Khan in the ATC Derby over 2400 metres and it hasn't since raced over that staying distance.
The bad sign for punters is that it hasn't been running on, but that has been attributed to some fairly average rides from Craig Williams and Opie Bosson.
Ideally, it would sit around sixth or seventh and be able to pull around runners nearing the straight. With the right run in transit from Craig Newitt, it could provide the boil over.
Projected finish: 13th
12. Hauraki – $8
Trainer: John O'Shea
Jockey: James McDonald
The Godolphin runner has been very well backed off a strong placing in the Group 3 Craven Plate behind Complacent.
The lightly tried four-year-old was a Group 2 Tulloch winner last preparation before finishing second in the ATC Derby. That formline should stack up nicely with the winner Mongolian Khan currently sitting as the short favourite.
Hauraki looks to have natural staying power and with three runs under its belt this campaign, it looms as a strong winning chance with top jockey James McDonald in the saddle.
Very good chance after dropping 5kg in the weights.
Projected finish: 2nd
13. Lucia Valentina – $34
Trainer: Kris Lees
Jockey: Dwayne Dunn
The Savabeel five-year-old has been very disappointing in its last five runs. It hasn't finished better than fourth and it hasn't been showing its usual blistering speed in the straight.
Its form is suggesting it might well be a wet tracker with four of its five wins coming on rain affected ground, and the Caulfield track isn't expecting any rain throughout the week.
It has drawn barrier 20 so it will drop back in the field. but it's not running well enough to be considered at odds in this.
Projected finish: 14th
14. Rising Romance – $11
Jockey: Damian Lane
Rising Romance was looking like a genuine winning chance after finishing second behind Fawkner in the Group 1 Makybe Diva, but its effort last start left anything to be desired.
The five-year-old mare dropped out to finish 12th in the Turnbull and it will need to bounce back quickly in order to go close here.
To its credit, it has never finished out of the money in three attempts at the distance and its best form comes on dry tracks.
It has also drawn barrier two and in-form jockey Damian Lane takes the ride at a luxury weight of 53kg. Punters are confident at odds of $11, but that price is just a touch short for our liking.
If it gets out to $16 on the day then it becomes a place chance at value, but at $11 we're prepared to risk it.
Projected finish: 8th
15. Magicool – $126
Trainer: Mark Kavanagh
Jockey: James Winks
After putting back-to-back wins together earlier this year, including the Group 1 Queensland Derby, it's looked a mere shadow of its former self in four runs since.
The well bred son of Fastnet Rock finished 13th in the Memsie, 12th in the Makybe Diva, 11th in the Underwood and 14th in the Turnbull.
That form doesn't bode well for this and many believe it shouldn't be in the field. To its credit, this distance is much more suitable and it has won at Caulfield.
That being said, there isn't much to get excited about and there's a reason it's the outsider of the field.
Projected finish: 15th
16. Gust Of Wind – $17
Trainer: John Sargent
Jockey: Chad Schofield
Gust Of Wind's formline might not read well, but it has been preparing nicely for this so it will pay to overlook its most recent starts.
The best thing about this four-year-old is that it has been running on stylishly in all three runs this campaign. It finished ninth in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes where it was doing its best work late. It then ran eighth in the Makybe Diva where again, it worked home well along the inside.
The last start 11th in the Turnbull might not appear great, but it was cramped for room and it still finished off well enough – just 2.45 lengths behind Preferment in a bunched finish.
Adding to its winning credentials is the weight of 51kg and Chad Schofield has been able to produce group 1 winners in the past. Looks a genuine winning chance.
Projected finish: 3rd
17. Set Square – $9
Group 1 Oaks winner during the Melbourne Spring carnival last year and it looms as a top chance of winning the Caulfield Cup.
Drawing barrier 16 has caused some punters to hold fire, but it currently sits on the third line of betting and that must be respected.
It has produced three solid runs to prepare this campaign, with a last start third coming in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington. It didn't get the best of luck in the straight and with a touch of luck from the wide draw, it should be around the mark.
It represents a chance down in the weights, but the $9 does seem a touch short on face value. Look for a handy place price and get involved.
Projected finish: 4th
18. Magnapal – $41
Trainer: T & K O'Sullivan
Jockey: Dean Yendall
Magnapal has come a long way in a short period of time. The six-year-old contested a rating 90 at Sandown, which it won in August and now it finds itself in the Caulfield Cup.
Since then it has won the Listed Heatherlie Handicap at Caulfield and the Group 3 Naturalism at Caulfield where it defeated The United States.
Another runner where punters are saying it shouldn't be in the field as opposed to the likes of Group 1 winner Magic Hurricane, but it's there and it has a runners chance.
There are some quality types in this race and Magnapal will likely struggle to keep up.
Projected finish: 17th
Emergencies: Quest For More ($67), Complacent ($13), Dibiyani ($41), Magic Hurricane ($21).
Of the emergencies, only Quest For More and Complacent are a realistic chance of getting a start. It's unlikely that there will be three scratchings, so keep an eye on the market as Complacent is a winning chance with a run.