One week before Australia's nation-stopping Melbourne Cup, here's a quick guide to the latest Melbourne Cup runners - and the best odds available for your favourite picks.
Only 24 horses can run in the AU$7.3million Melbourne Cup, their allotted weight determining whether they get a place or not, those guaranteed a run having the highest weights - having shown the best form. Here are the present top 24 Melbourne Cup runners, in betting order:
Yucatan, trained by Aidan O'Brien in Ireland, gets into the 24-runner field with a 5lb penalty, accrued by winning the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield two weeks ago. The four-year-old is owned by Lloyd Williams, who has won the last two Melbourne Cups - six in total. Yucatan will again be ridden by Sydney's leading rider James McDonald and is no bigger than 5/1 to give O'Brien his first Melbourne Cup win.
Magic Circle, trained by Ian Williams in Worcestershire, UK, has not run since winning a Group 3 by six lengths in May, but will have the services of last year's winning jockey Corey Brown when he lines up at Flemington. Brown was booked to ride the Chester Cup winner as far back as August.
Victory for Best Solution in the Melbourne Cup would be a fifth successive win this year, the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained runner having stunned Australia when winning the Group 1 Caulfield Cup on his latest outing. Handicappers decided not to increase his weight for the Melbourne Cup after that win, and he will be ridden by usual jockey Pat Cosgrave.
Cross Counter is also owned by Godolphin, who have four possible runners. He is trained by Charlie Appleby in Newmarket and ranks as one of the least-exposed Cup runners, having run only seven times in his short career. The three-year-old incurred a minor injury recently and missed one week of work, but was back on the track this week, cantering under his Melbourne Cup jockey Kerrin McEvoy.
Avilius is the among Godolphin's three guarateed runners, and the first home runner to feature in the Cup betting. Trained by James Cummings since April, Avilius has won four of his last five starts in Australia, including a Group 3 at Flemington - home of the Melbourne Cup. He will be ridden by regular jockey Glen Schofield.
Trained by leading British trainer John Gosden, Muntahaa carried a massive 9st 9lb to victory in the 1m6f Ebor Handicap at York last time out. The five-year-old will be ridden by that day's jockey Jim Crowley, with whom he has also won a Group 3, and is going to stay in Australia afterwards, joining the stable of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig.
The Cliffsofmoher, known in his native Ireland as Cliffs Of Moher, opened his season with a Group 2 win at Naas and, though he hasn't won since, he has not finished out of the first four. That includes when third to Best Solution in the Caulfield Cup, and fourth to Benbatl in another Group 1 at Caulfield. He's among the four Aidan O'Brien-trained runners, with no jockey confirmed.
Least fancied of the Aidan O'Brien team, Rostropovich is a Group 2 winner, who finished second to Latrobe in the Irish Derby this June. The three-year-old ran in Australia for the first time last weekend, finishing fifth to the mighty Winx in the Group 1 Cox Plate - over a trip far too short. His claim to fame will be: he's the first son of British superstar Frankel to run in the Cup.
Marmelo, trained in Britain by Hughie Morrison, finished ninth in the 2017 Melbourne Cup and will again be ridden by leading local jockey Hugh Bowman. He has been aimed at the Cup since his top 10, running only four times since, and finishing in the first two each time, including in a 1m7f Group 2 in France last time out. He's one of just five horses in the entries who ran last year.
Youngstar, winner of the Queensland Oaks, is the only filly guaranteed a run in the Melbourne Cup - a race which has been won by some of history's most incredible females, like Makybe Diva. She suffered a heavy defeat when fancied for the Caulfied Cup last time out, but was a victim of an unfavourably slow pace through the race. Nevertheless, her usual rider Kerrin McEvoy has opted to partner Cross Counter, giving the Cup ride to Victoria's champion jockey Craig Williams. She's part of a strong team for leading Australian handler Chris Waller.
Duretto was a creditable fourth to Best Solution in the Caulfied Cup on his latest run, but has since incurred an injury and his participation is in doubt. Trained by Andrew Balding in Britain, Duretto has been at the University of Melbourne Equine Centre undergoing tests on his left foreleg, since pulling up lame following a track gallop on Saturday.
Finche, like Rostropovich, is a son of Frankel bidding to give Australia's leading Group 1 trainer Chris Waller a first Melbourne Cup win. He joined Waller from France in August after winning a 1m5f Group 3 and wend on to be a close third in the Geelong Cup. Hugh Bowman rode that day, but Zac Purton has been booked for the Cup outing - opting to ride Finche over Red Verdon.
Ventura Storm has escaped a penalty for winning the Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup last weekend, and is therefore set to carry the same weight as he did when 21st in last year's Melbourne Cup. However, the five-year-old carried that weight in the last two Caulfield Cups too, improving this year from 13th to 10th. His recent win was a first since 2016 and that day's new jockey Mark Zahra rides at Flemington.
Red Verdon will be ridden for the first time by Europe's hottest young jockey Oisin Murphy in the Melbourne Cup. The Ed Dunlop-trained Group 2 place-getter disappointed in the Caulfield Cup on his first run in Australia, but is owned by Ronnie Arculli, who also owned Red Cadeaux. Also a chestnut, he ran five times in the Cup, becoming the first horse to finish second in it three times.
One of two runners trained in Japan, Chestnut Coat is among his home nation's most prominent stayers, this April finishing fifth in the lucrative 2m Grade 1 Tenno Sho at Kyoto. Trainer Yoshito Yahagi is likely to stick with Japanese rider Yiga Kawada, who partnered the four-year-old to 13th in the Caulfield Cup.
Sound Check moved to Australia from Germany in August, after being beaten a neck by Best Solution in a Group 1 over 1m4f. The five-year-old has since finished 12th to the same rival in the Caulfield Cup, but is expected to perform better over further - and is already a winner over 2m. His Caulfield Cup jockey Jordan Childs stays on.
Tosen Basil was a smart stayer in Japan, but since moving to Darren Weir's Victoria base in May, he has only recorded one good run: when a short-head second to Homesman in a 1m1f Group 1 at Caulfield at the end of September.
Runaway creeps in to the Melbourne Cup at number 23 on the list, after gaining a 4lb penalty for winning the Geelong Cup on October 24. In April he announced his Melbourne Cup potential with victory in a Listed race at Flemington over 1m6f, though he was later well-beaten over 2m at the same track before a 134-day break. 2013 Melbourne Cup winner Gai Waterhouse trains him with Adrian Bott and Stephen Baster rides.
Ace High was high up in the Melbourne Cup betting after winning the Group 2 Australia Hill Stakes at Randwick in September, but then he beat only three horses home in the Caulfield Cup. Many have rued the slow early pace in that race, but it could also have been that first-time blinkers didn't suit. Aside from that run, Ace High has had a similar preparation to that which led to him winning last year's Group 1 Victoria Derby at the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
At 10, Who Shot Thebarman is the oldest horse in the race and is running in the Cup for the fourth time, having come closest to victory on his first try in 2014 when third. Ridden by Tye Angland for much of this year, he was fourth to Ventura Storm last time in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup. He forms part of Chris Waller's team.
Red Cardinal finished 11th in the 2017 Melbourne Cup carrying 8st 9lb and has since run just five times, making the frame once. Aside from last year's Cup, the Darren Weir-trained runner is 2/2 over 2m.
Vengeur Masque is stepping up to the Melbourne Cup for the first time, boasting victory in the 1m5f Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington last year, and a head second in a Melbourne Cup Carnival Group 3. A stablemate of the Michael Moroney-trained Sound Check, Vengeur Masque has run six times at Flemington over 1m4f-1m5f, just shy of the Cup trip, achieving form figures of: 428215. Usual jockey Patrick Moloney is likely to ride the six-year-old.
Owned by the China Horse Club, Auvray was a Group 2-winning stayer in France and has been winning over 1m2f-1m4f since moving to Australia last year. Trained by Richard Freedman, the seven-year-old finished 6th in the Metropolitan and St Leger in Sydney and will be ridden by Tommy Berry.
Zacada is number 24 on the Melbourne Cup entries after the latest confirmations, giving some consolation to trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsaman, ater their Jon Snow was ruled out of the race last week. Zacada has only run seven times in his six years, coming closest to a first victory when beaten a nose by Who Shot Thebarman in a Group 1 over 2m at Randwick in April. He was also only beaten a length when fifth on his only other start over 2m in the Group 1 Auckland Cup.
With Duretto highly unlikely to line up in the Melbourne Cup, number 25 Sir Charles Road (200/1) is virtually guaranteed a run now, but leaving nothing to chance, he is set to run in the Bendigo Cup on Wednesday.
He is joined by three others making a last ditch attempt to get a run in the Melbourne Cup - Dal Harraild, Lord Fandango and Chris Waller's Patrick Erin. With a win at Bendigo, any of that foursome could make it into the Cup field, provided the handicappers apply a big enough penalty to their weight.
Hovering just outside the cut right now is last year's Cup 5th Nakeeta and Japan's Sole Impact, who is instead entered in the Group 3 Lexus Stakes at Flemington on Saturday - a race that many of the Melbourne Cup entries will target if missing the cut in the Cup.
Trainer Charlie Fellowes though plans to run Prince Of Arran (number 29) in that Lexus Stakes in a bid to gain a Melbourne Cup place. Though it is very difficult to run a horse again so quickly, the 32-year-old British trainer is willing to take the risk.
Only 24 horses can run in the 2018 Melbourne Cup and the final declarations, barrier draws and jockey bookings for the 'Race that Stops A Nation' will be revealed after 6 PM local time on Saturday, November 3, which is 5 AM on Sunday, November 4 GMT.
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