The horse racing world - and much of Australia and New Zealand - will come to a standstill at 5pm today for the running of the Melbourne Cup.
Australia's richest race and one of the most famous races anywhere in the world, the Melbourne Cup is truly "the race that stops a nation".
First run in 1861, greats of the turf from Carbine and Phar Lap to Might And Power and Makybe Diva have all etched themselves into the annals of racing history by winning on the first Tuesday in November.
New Zealand has certainly had plenty of success in the Melbourne Cup with 44 Kiwi-bred horses winning the race including 16 that have been New Zealand owned and trained. Kiwi in 1983 was arguably the most memorable New Zealand win while the likes of Empire Rose (1988), Brew (2000) and Ethereal (2001) have all won the great race.
Kiwi hopes this year have been scuppered somewhat by the injury absence of Jon Snow and the scratching of the popular Who Shot Thebarman.
Favouritism for the race is hotly contested with defending champion Almandin, Kiwi-bred Humidor and Northern Hemisphere hotpot Marmelo all vying for top slot.
Here is a guide to all the runners:
Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup - race 7 at Flemington, 5pm NZ), A$6,000,000 3200m
Barrier: 12 Weight: 57.5 Trainer: James Cummings (Flemington) Jockey: Damian Lane
Odds: $23 & $7.50
Classy galloper who started his prep off with a bang by winning the Lawrence over 1400m but has been poor since. Beaten as an odds-on pop in the Makybe Diva, got passed by Bonneval in the Underwood and then finished down the track in the Caulfield Stakes. Gets the trip with a third in last year's Cup and a fourth in the 2015 Sydney Cup. Will finish in the first half but not going well enough to win.
Barrier: 14 Weight: 56.5 Trainer: Robert Hickmott (Mt. Macedon) Jockey: Frankie Dettori
Odds: $7.00 & $2.50
Last year's winner. With the most successful Melbourne Cup stable in Team Williams, who have won three Cups in the last decade. Will need to defy history as big weight carriers rarely win and back-to-back Cups are limited to a handful. Enjoyed an excellent prep with a win two runs back in the JRA Trophy but benefited from a gun ride. Happy to take on.
Barrier: 13 Weight: 56 Trainer: Darren Weir (Warrnambool) Jockey: Blake Shinn
Odds: $8.50 & $2.90
Absolutely sensational in the Cox Plate running Winx to a ½ length. Good enough in the Caulfield Cup but had every chance with the track bias. Bolted in third-up in the Makybe Diva. This is his seventh run in and only one horse in the last decade has pulled off a Cup win so deep into their prep. Might be over the top.
Barrier: 22 Weight: 55.5 Trainer: Alain Couetil (France) Jockey: Olivier Peslier
Odds: $31 & $9.50
Quality French galloper racing in great form with four wins in his last five runs, all at black type level. Won at Group 2 level at Deauville last start lumping 60kg. International trained gallopers have won three of the last seven Melbourne Cups but all have had at least one in Australia in the lead-up. Will go very close.
Barrier: 16 Weight: 55 Trainer: Hughie Morrison (East Ilsley (GB)) Jockey: Hugh Bowman
Odds: $9.00 & $3.00
Lightly raced British galloper who won the Prix de Kergolay two runs back. Ran in the Caulfield Cup and was a huge effort against the pattern when making plenty of ground. Hugh Bowman aboard is a major plus. Well in at the weights. Two-time winner over 3000m so will have no problems with the trip.
6 RED CARDINAL
Barrier: 23 Weight: 55 Trainer: Andreas Wohler (Germany) Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy
Odds: $16 & $5.00
Trained by 2014 Cup winner Andreas Wohler, one of Germany's leading trainers. Won the Belmont Gold Cup in the US in fine style in June but only run since was a fifth at Deauville behind Marmelo in the Prix de Kergolay. Concerned at how lightly race he is and the fact he hasn't had an Australian run.
7 JOHANNES VERMEER
Barrier: 3 Weight: 54.5 Trainer: Aidan O'Brien (Co. Tipperary (IRE)) Jockey: Ben Melham
Odds: $10 & $3.40
Aidan O'Brien galloper who has performed well since coming to Australia. Just missed out behind Gailo Chop in the Caulfield Stakes before a big run against the pattern in the Caulfield Cup to run third. Not won beyond 2000m, which is a concern, but the Williams stable have an incredible record in this race. Will be right in the finish.
8 BONDI BEACH
Barrier: 1 Weight: 54 Trainer: Robert Hickmott (Mt. Macedon) Jockey: Michael Walker
Odds: $51 & $16
Has done nothing since coming to Australia. Raced in the Melbourne Cup last year and plodded home midfield. Ran second-last fresh before beating just two home in the JRA Trophy. Hasn't raced since mid-September. Absolutely no case to make for him.
9 MAX DYNAMITE
Barrier: 2 Weight: 54 Trainer: William Mullins (Ireland) Jockey: Zac Purton
Odds: $15 & $4.80
Runner-up in the 2015 Melbourne Cup. Has had just four starts since. Won last start at Killarney but that was a six-horse handicap over 3419m. Eight-year-olds have an ordinary record in this race and been a long time since he has shown anything. Have to risk at the price.
10 VENTURA STORM
Barrier: 6 Weight: 54 Trainer: Hayes/Dabernig (Flemington) Jockey: Glen Boss
Odds: $31 & $9.50
Former Northern Hemisphere galloper who joined the Hayes stable in the autumn. Has yet to win in five Australian runs but went well in the Turnbull. Failed to fire in the Caulfield Cup. Stable must be respected but doesn't fit the profile of too many Melbourne Cup winners.
11 WHO SHOT THE BARMAN
12 WICKLOW BRAVE
Barrier: 8 Weight: 54 Trainer: William Mullins (Ireland) Jockey: Stephen Baster
Odds: $61 & $18
Probably too old to win the Melbourne Cup though he stays all day so will finish in the first half. Ran well down the track in this race last year. Won a hurdle in April. Respect that he ran in the Caulfield Cup but he doesn't have the improvement to take the Melbourne Cup.
13 BIG DUKE
Barrier: 5 Weight: 53.5 Trainer: Darren Weir (Warrnambool) Jockey: Brenton Avdulla
Odds: $19 & $5.50
Has enjoyed a very good preparation since getting out to 2400m and beyond. Won the St Leger two starts back beating Lexus winner Cismontane before being disappointed for a run in the Moonee Valley Cup. Will definitely see out the trip.
14 US ARMY RANGER
Barrier: 21 Weight: 53.5 Trainer: Joseph O'Brien (Co. Kilkenny (IRE)) Jockey: Jamie Spencer
Odds: $61 & $18
Recent addition to the Team Williams stable. Yet to race in Australia. Hasn't won since May 2016. Been ordinary this year except for a placing over 4355m. Total unknown but doesn't look good enough.
15 BOOM TIME
Barrier: 9 Weight: 53 Trainer: Hayes/Dabernig (Flemington) Jockey: Cory Parish
Odds: $26 & $8.50
Shock winner of the Caulfield Cup at $51. Only tried once at 3200m and struggled in the Sydney Cup earlier in the year but that was on heavy going so possibly forgive. Caulfield Cup winners don't go well in this race but down in the weights must be afforded a chance.
Barrier: 18 Weight: 53 Trainer: Robert Hickmott (Mt. Macedon) Jockey: Michael Dee
Odds: $101 & $26
Team Williams runner who ran 20th in the Melbourne Cup last year. Has had just two runs this time in. Was horrendous fresh before an improved showing when running midfield in the Geelong Cup. Too old and probably lacks the dash.
Barrier: 7 Weight: 53 Trainer: Chris Waller (Flemington) Jockey: Dwayne Dunn
Odds: $41 & $12
Write your own ticket. Racing well enough in lower grades this preparation. Won the Kingston Town four starts back and almost pinched a strange Moonee Valley Gold Cup. Not up to this standard.
Barrier: 19 Weight: 53 Trainer: Iain Jardine (Carrutherstown (SCO)) Jockey: Glyn Schofield
Odds: $31 & $9.50
British visitor who comes into this off an impressive win in the Ebor at York over 2787m. Doesn't win out of turn but is a genuine two-miler. Yet to race overseas. Could include in wide multiples but that is as far as the confidence extends.
19 SINGLE GAZE
Barrier: 11 Weight: 53 Trainer: Nick Olive (Canberra) Jockey: Kathy O'Hara
Odds: $34 & $11
One of the Melbourne Cup's most unlikeliest runners. Trained in Canberra by the unassuming Nick Olive, he ran a hard-nosed second in the Caulfield Cup. Won the G2 PJ O'Shea in Brisbane in the winter. Unknown at the trip but suggests will see it out. No Australian bred horse has placed in a Cup since Viewed in 2008 though.
20 WALL OF FIRE
Barrier: 15 Weight: 53 Trainer: Hugo Palmer (Newmarket (GB)) Jockey: Craig Williams
Odds: $13 & $4.00
Has yet to win in black type company but his recent form has been strong. Loomed in the Belmont Gold Cup three starts back then just missed in the Geoffrey Freer. Had a run in the Herbert Power and was mighty behind Lord Fandango. Well in the market but looks a big chance.
21 THOMAS HOBSON
Barrier: 20 Weight: 52 Trainer: William Mullins (Ireland) Jockey: Joao Moreira
Odds: $15 & $4.50
The third Willie Mullins galloper. Four of his nine wins have been over the hurdles. Placed in the Doncaster Cup last start but a long time between runs. Stays all day but doesn't look to have the class.
Barrier: 4 Weight: 51.5 Trainer: Joseph O'Brien (Co. Kilkenny (IRE)) Jockey: Corey Brown
Odds: $16 & $5.00
A lightly-raced 4yo with Team Williams. Has had just nine starts, all in England/Ireland. Won the Curragh Cup over Wicklow Brave in July. Doesn't have the seasoning to win such a hard race.
23 AMELIE'S STAR
Barrier: 10 Weight: 51 Trainer: Darren Weir (Warrnambool) Jockey: Dean Yendall
Odds: $18 & $5.50
Australian-bred mare is a couple of big crosses against. Was entitled to do a lot more in the Caulfield Cup with the track playing to front-runners. First time up to 3200m but would be surprised if she was in the mix.
Barrier: 17 Weight: 50 Trainer: Waterhouse/Bott (Flemington) Jockey: Beau Mertens
Odds: $41 & $12
Front-runner from the Gai Waterhouse stable who likely sets the pace in this. Held on well to win the Lexus but no galloper has done the Lexus-Cup double since Shocking eight years back. Race not suited to front-runners. Hard to see getting close.
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