Consider the first four home this year — their diverse profiles are fascinating.
German-bred winner Almandin had run only 11 times previously, yet had finished second, beaten three lengths, to a French champion in Solow, in a small race over 2,000m at Longchamp in 2014.
The same year, Almandin had beaten Protectionist, a subsequent Melbourne Cup winner, when winning a G2, over 2,200m at Baden Baden. His new owner, Australian Lloyd Williams, brought him to Melbourne, but the Monsun gelding suffered a tendon injury and did not run for two years.
Coming into Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup, he had not had a public outing since winning the G3 Bart Cummings Stakes at Flemington on Oct 2 — unusual for a locally-trained horse. Because of his injury, he had been sparingly raced.
Runner-up Heartbreak City had been bought out of a claimer at Deauville in France in 2013 by his current trainer Tony Martin as a dual-purpose horse. It is very common for older horses in Ireland to run both over jumps and on the Flat.
It proved an astute purchase by Martin as Heartbreak City went on to win the showcase Galway Hurdle, and followed up with a win in Europe’s richest staying handicap, the Ebor at York.
Although French-bred, Heartbreak City is a son of Lando, a German champion. He had won six of his 22 starts before Tuesday.