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How to pick a winner- by Damien O'Connor

How to pick a winner- by Damien O'Connor

The Racing Minister’s heart will lie firmly with Kiwi runners in (Tuesday's) Melbourne Cup.

“I'd be delighted if Lashed, Pacific Dancer, Upsetthym, Winning Belle or Catchmeifyoucan wins the big race”, Damien O’Connor said. When pressed which Kiwi contender he favoured, the Minister plumped for Upsetthym.

“I was at Ellerslie when Upsetthym won the Auckland Cup; we definitely know she can perform over the distance. It would be great for the horse's owners - the Pepsi Syndicate - to have another reason to celebrate."

But he said a win by any local contender would be a fantastic achievement for New Zealand's thoroughbred racing and breeding industries.

A more reasoned analysis forced Mr O’Connor to concede that Australian mare Makybe Diva was perhaps the deserved favourite, and that the weather forecast was likely to help the chances of Irish horse Vinnie Roe.

“Makybe Diva had a fantastic run in the Caulfield Cup and could well become the first mare to win the Cup twice. On the other hand, Vinnie Roe is a well performed stayer, who'd benefit from rain.”

Mr O'Connor said the Melbourne Cup had been the scene of some great trans-Tasman battles over the years, with New Zealand horses often getting the better of their Australian counterparts. This had lead to good-humoured rivalry both on and off-course.

"Victorian Racing Minister John Pandazopolous recently toured New Zealand with this year's Cup and dared to reignite the debate about the final resting place of 1930 Cup-winner Phar Lap.

“I told John in no uncertain terms he could keep his hands off Phar Lap’s skeleton; that’s probably why I've been left in Wellington to watch the big race on TV, rather than being asked to join him at Flemington!"

Mr O'Connor will have a modest each-way bet on Upsetthym and will take a box trifecta to include: Upsetthym, Winning Belle, Makybe Diva, and Vinnie Roe if it rains or Media Puzzle if it doesn’t.

He said he was happy to defend his selections, but - given his past form - could take no responsibility for their accuracy on the day.

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