Unsure who to back with your spare change in the Melbourne Cup? Need to know more about the horse that you've been given in the work sweepstake? Here's all you need to know about the strengths and the weaknesses of all the horses in the field.
1. BEST SOLUTION (57.5kg)
Trainer: Saeed Bin Suroor
Jockey: Pat Cosgrave
A Godolphin stable star, Best Solution headed to Australia off the back of consecutive Group 1 wins in Germany — both over 2400m.
Likes: Franked German form with an impressive win in the Caulfield Cup (2400m, G1) — in no part thanks to a good ride from jockey Pat Cosgrave and a field who let the leading group get away with murder.
Dislikes: The Caulfield Cup/Melbourne Cup double hasn't been done since Ethereal in 2001 and the last top weight to win the race was Makybe Diva in 2005.
VERDICT: With weight, a bit of a distance query and history against this Godolphin runner I'm drawing a line through his chances of winning despite his obvious class. One for the place fields in your trifecta.
2. THE CLIFFSOFMOHER 56.5kg
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien
Jockey: Ryan Moore
The Cliffsofmoher had been racing and placing in Group class (distance range 2000m-2400m) in the UK prior to being brought to Australia by Lloyd Williams.
Likes: Impressed over final 400m of the Caulfield Stakes (2000m, G1) at first run in Australia. Next race finished third in the Caulfield Cup (2400m, G1) making ground from the turn — one of few horses to do so in a race that favoured frontrunners. Has the services of great jockey Ryan Moore which is a plus.
Dislikes: Form lines suggest was more a Caulfield Cup contender than one for this Tuesday. Has not been missed by the handicapper and asked to carry plenty.
VERDICT: The weight combined with the extra 800 metres is enough for me to cross him out. Can't have them all and I'll let this one go.
3. MAGIC CIRCLE 56kg
Trainer: Ian Williams
Jockey: Corey Brown
UK stayer who comes into the Melbourne Cup following consecutive six length wins in the Chester Cup (3750m) and Henry II Stakes (3260m, G3).
Likes: Is a true grinder of a stayer as opposed to the more tactical sit and sprint horses that have been winning the Cup of late so will benefit from a decent pace and will enjoy the long Flemington straight. Has the services of proven Cup winner Corey Brown (Shocking 2009, Rekindling 2017) who sought out the ride after watching the Henry II win.
Dislikes: The handicapper hasn't missed him with 56kg, and w ill need a little bit of luck in running to ensure he gets a chance to build up to his top speed as they enter the straight.
VERDICT: Loves the distance and the fact that Brown committed to ride him so far out from the Cup is a huge vote of confidence. Serious chance.
4. CHESTNUT COAT 55.5kg
Trainer: Yoshito Yahagi
Jockey: Yuga Kawada
Japanese import Chestnut Coat is a reasonably lightly raced stayer who ran a very impressive fifth in the Tenno Sho (3200m, G1) three starts back.
Likes: The Tenno Sho run is exactly what you would want to see in the Melbourne Cup with the horse making a long sustained run
Dislikes: Was not as impressive at first run in Australia when faded badly over final 400 metres of the Caulfield Cup (2400m, G1) to finish 10.5 lengths off the winner in 13th place.
VERDICT: Some excuse can be made for the Caulfield run as Japanese horses very rarely go well on soft surfaces. Suspect he'll go better on wide open Flemington track but wants no rain. Roughest of rough hopes.
5. MUNTAHAA 55.5kg
Trainer: John Godsen
Jockey: Jim Crowley
UK horse who comes to Australia off the back of a great win in Europe's richest flat handicap race The Ebor (2800m) — in which he lugged a massive 61kg.
Likes: The Ebor is a solid form guide for the Melbourne Cup and Muntahaa shouldn't have any problems with the weight. Has the services of top UK jockey Jim Crowley
Dislikes: The Ebor win was his first for 18 months and he was well beaten by Best Solution the race before that.
VERDICT: Reports from Werribee were that Muntahaa worked well while in quarantine and he'll go in my exotics for a place.
6. SOUND CHECK 55.5kg
Trainer: Michael Moroney
Jockey: Jordan Childs
German bred stayer who pushed Best Solution right to the line in the Grosser Preis Von Berlin (2400m, G1) in final run before being sent to Australia.
Likes: Has a win over Cup distance in the 3200m G2 Oleander-Rennen in May 2018.
Dislikes: Just the one run in Australia when 12th of 18 in the Caulfield Cup (2400m, G1).
VERDICT: Gets a 2kg pull in the weights on Best Solution from the Grosser Preis and has proven he can stay the distance. Happy to forgive the Caulfield run as settled last and never had a hope the way the race was run. A much better chance than current odds and definitely in my exotics.
7. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN 55.5kg
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Ben Melham
This will be the fourth Melbourne Cup for the Chris Waller trained grand old stayer and he's sure to run as the people's favourite in the race.
Likes: Broke through to win his first G1 in Australia earlier this year when he claimed the Sydney Cup (3200m, G1) by the smallest of margins. Most recent run fourth in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m, G2) had plenty of merit as race tempo did not suit backmarkers and he motored home from eighth at the turn.
Dislikes: History suggests a horse this old, with this many attempts already under his belt, cannot win.
VERDICT: Unlike many in this field, distance is not a query with nine starts over 3200m for two wins and three places. Some hope of a cheeky place and even that would bring the house down.
8. ACE HIGH 55kg
Trainer: David Payne
Jockey: Tye Angland
The 2017 Victoria Derby winner (2500m, G1).
Likes: Ace High was looking good this preparation with a good two length win in the Hill Stakes (2000m, G2) in September.
Dislikes: Bit of a flop last start in the Caulfield Cup when forced to the front and failing to go with the field when the pace came on. Has not been missed by the handicapper with 55kg.
VERDICT: Some excuses can be made for the Caulfield Cup run as the track was a soft 6 and the stallion has never won or run a place on a wet track. Currently quoted as a 65/1 I think he's better than that but not in my top six.
9. MARMELO 55kg
Trainer: Hughie Morrison
Jockey: Hugh Bowman
Beaten as odds-on favourite in the Kergolay (3000m, G2) last start, a race he won in 2017 before coming to Australia to tackle the Melbourne Cup.
Likes: Form before the Kergolay run hard to fault and the stable are confident that not having a lead-up run in Australia ahead of the Melbourne Cup this year is the way to go. Hugh Bowman's vote of confidence in him goes a long way.
Dislikes: Hard to find much I don't like about this guy.
VERDICT: History suggests horses don't get better in their second tilt at the Cup — though Empire Rose fans would point out the past does not necessarily predict the future — but I'm prepared to give Marmelo another chance on back of the slight change in preparation this year. Decent chance.
10. AVILIUS 54.5kg
Trainer: James Cummings
Jockey: Glyn Schofiel
Former Euro import transferred to the James Cummings stable in 2017 who has followed the famed '10,000 metre Cup preparation' favoured by his grandfather Bart.
Likes: Earned a guaranteed start in the race with victory in The Bart Cummings (2500m, G3) the longest distance over which he has won.
Dislikes: Well beaten, 8 lengths fourth in the Cox Plate at last start but that run was never about winning and more a final conditioning run ahead of Tuesday.
VERDICT: This preparation is tried and true, both Efficient (2007) and Green Moon (2012) went from unplaced last start Cox Plate runners to Melbourne Cup winners recently and Fiorente won in 2013 after finishing third in the Cox. Untested over the distance but far from the worst.
11. YUCATAN 54.5kg
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien
Jockey: Glyn Schofield
The Aidan O'Brien trained and Lloyd Williams owned Yucatan ran an incredible race to win the Herbert Power (2400m, G2) at his first start in Australia destroying the field in a run which saw him installed as Melbourne Cup favourite.
Likes: Only needs to reproduce that Herbert Power run to win this.
Dislikes: Can he reproduce that rub? Prior to the Herbert Power had only won two races from 12 starts — a maiden over 1600m and a Group 3 where he beat five others home over 2000m.
VERDICT: The Melbourne Cup is a big step up from the Herbert Power in terms of class and distance. Despite the Herbert Power hype Yucatan is way too short in the odds. Will be in my trifecta but not a chance I'd put money on the nose or each-way.
12. AUVRAY 54kg
Trainer: Richard Freedman
Jockey: Tommy Berry
Former French galloper whose best win of his career in Australia was in the Harolds Sky High Stakes (2000m) in March this year.
Likes: Has won a Group 2 over 3000m in France in October 2014. Ran second in the Newcastle Cup (2300m, G3) two runs back and was not too far off the placings in The Metropolitan (2400m, G1) in his race before last.
Dislikes: Failed to fire last start beaten by 8.5 lengths in a moderate field at Randwick.
VERDICT: Despite a good finish in The Metrop, and history saying he can stay (finished fourth in the Group 1 Sydney Cup over 3200m back in April this year), it's impossible to tip him.
13. FINCHE 54kg
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Zac Purton
The former French trained son of super sire Frankel was transferred to the Chris Waller stable following his win in the Prix De Reux (2500m, G3) in August.
Likes: Finished third carrying 59kg in the Geelong Cup (2400m, G3) at his first start in Australia and he gets a 3kg pull in the weights on Runaway here as compared to that race. Had a win over Avilius back in Europe and also form around — albeit well behind — star Cracksman.
Dislikes: Carrying a couple more kilos than I'd really like to see and can't help but feel he'll be better next preparation.
VERDICT: The Geelong Cup finish was full of merit and he's a big striding stayer who should enjoy Flemington's long straight but I feel he's probably carrying more weight than he should. Only for the widest exotics.
14. RED CARDINAL 54kg
Trainer: Darren Weir
Jockey: Damien Oliver
Former Euro based stayer who came in to the 2017 Melbourne Cup in great form and rated a genuine chance off the back of wins over the 3200m in Germany and America.
Likes: Has had three starts over the Cup distance for two wins.
Dislikes: Transferred to the Weir stable after the 2017 Cup, Red Cardinal has had five runs for just one place — third in the Randwick St Leger Stakes (2600m) on 13 October. Flopped in his one run since the St Leger when finishing in 11th place seven lengths off the winner Ventura Storm in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m, G2).
VERDICT: Always odd to draw such a firm line through a proven stayer in this race but that's what I'm doing here.
15. VENGEUR MASQUE 54kg
Trainer: Michael Moroney
Jockey: Patrick Moloney
Unlucky not to make the Melbourne Cup field last year following a win in the Geelong Cup and 0.2 length second in the Lexus Stakes, Vengeur Masque comes into this year's race in not quite the same form.
Likes: His form last spring was exceptional. It's not 2017 though …
Dislikes: Finished 5.5 lengths fifth off Avilius in The Bart Cummings (2500m, G3) and then just whacked away down the straight when five lengths ninth in the Caulfield Cup.
VERDICT: Can't see him running a place.
16. VENTURA STORM 54kg
Trainer: D & B Hayes and T Dabering
Jockey: Mark Hahra
Former import who finally broke his Australian duck (in his 17th start) with a win in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m, G2) at his last start.
Likes: The stable feel they are finally working this fellow out after gelding him and a throat operation to help him stay.
Dislikes: Has had two cracks at running 3200m in Australia and flopped in both — failing to finish the 2017 Melbourne Cup and weakening over final 200m to finish eight lengths ninth in the 2018 Sydney Cup.
VERDICT: Kingston Rule (1990) was the last horse to win the Moonee Valley Cup-Melbourne Cup double and I think that record will remain intact.
17. A PRINCE OF ARRAN 53kg
Trainer: Charlie Fellowes
Jockey: Michael Walker
Globetrotting stayer who booked his place in the Melbourne Cup with victory in the Lexus Stakes (2500m, G3) last Saturday.
Likes: The Lexus win was a fine staying show and he will have no problems at all with the distance with a win and three places to his credit from seven starts over 3200m already in his career.
Dislikes: Not a lot really. Barrier will make it tough though.
VERDICT: Plenty to like about a horse that you know can cover the distance and who has had two good runs in Australia already. Don't like the barrier though. Lightweight place hope despite barrier woes.
18. NAKEETA 53kg
Trainer: Iain Jardine
Jockey: Regan Bayliss
UK stayer who ran fifth in this race last year.
Likes: Not much I'm afraid — she can stay but recent form negates that advantage.
Dislikes: Lead up form in 2018 has not been great with six runs since the 2017 Cup yet to snare her a place. Was beaten a long way (14.5 lengths to be precise) in her one run in Australia this prep when never in the race in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m, G2).
19. SIR CHARLES ROAD 53kg
Trainer: L O'Sullivan & A Scott
Jockey: Dwayne Dunn
New Zealand based stayer who made the most of his featherweight to run third in the 2018 Sydney Cup (3200m, G1) behind Who Shot Thebarman and Zacada back in April.
Likes: Form this prep has been fair and he got into the Cup thanks to a fighting third in the Bendigo Cup (2400m, G3).
Dislikes: A third in the Bendigo Cup...Tuesday is a big step up on that.
VERDICT: While we know he can cover the distance — has a fifth over 3200m in the Group 1 Auckland Cup in March 2018 to go with the aforementioned third in Sydney — he seems to be several steps down on many here when it comes to class and is one I'm prepared to risk.
20: ZACADA 53kg
Trainer: M Baker & A Forsman
Jockey: Damian Lane
Another New Zealand based stayer and one whose form lines — as far as the two miles goes — matches Sir Charles Road.
Likes: Finished second in the Sydney Cup and finished fourth in the Auckland Cup this year so can slearly stay.
Dislikes: Has shown absolutely nothing this preparation finishing 11th of 13, 15th of 16, 8th of 12 and 12th of 15.
VERDICT: Would be a crime if a horse with this form line ran anywhere near the first half of the field.
21. RUNAWAY 52kg
Trainer: G Waterhouse & A Bott
Jockey: Stephen Baster
A rare locally bred and trained Cup runner, the Gai Waterhouse trained Runaway qualified for the field with a win in the Geelong Cup (2400m, G3).
Likes: Has won over 2800m (Listed VRC St Leger at Flemington in April 2018) and placed at Group 1 level (third in the 2018 South Australian Derby, 2500m).
Dislikes: Concedes 3kg to Finche on his Geelong Cup run.
VERDICT: Frontrunner who could well lead the field into the final straight and could run a cheeky race here.
22. YOUNGSTAR 51.5kg
Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Craig Williams
Chris Waller trained Queensland Oaks (2200m, G1) winner who will benefit from the services of quality jockey Craig Williams.
Likes: Was eight lengths off the leader and eight wide at the 300m in the Caulfield Cup (2400m, G1) and steamed home to claim a fast-finishing seventh in a decent Cup trial.
Dislikes: Has never won or placed past 2200m so big question mark over ability to stay two miles.
VERDICT Gets in well down the weights and is a classy mare on her way up but could be found wanting over the final 400m if the race turns into a genuine staying duel. Bit of a knock is Kerrin McEvoy's decision to hop off her for the Cup. Not the worst.
23. CROSS COUNTER 51kg
Trainer: Charlie Appleby
Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy
Plenty of people might doubt the ability of a lightly raced northern hemisphere three-year-old to win a Melbourne Cup, except that's exactly what Rekindling did last year.
Likes: Has had just the seven starts with best win the Qatar Gordon Stakes (2400m, G3) and he ran second to Old Persian in the Great Voltigeur Stakes (2400m, G2) prior to being sent to Australia. Star jockey Kerrin McEvoy clearly a fan as he has hopped of Youngstar to take this ride in the Cup.
Dislikes: Had a minor setback which forced him to miss some training after cutting his leg while at Werribee but stable confident he's bounced back from that.
VERDICT: The light weight brings him right into this and star jockey's decision to take the ride is a massive boost in his favour. I normally like to see either a decent run in Australia, or at least some Group 1 form to work around, from an import before throwing him into my Cups exotics but the light weight, McEvoy and Appelby's ability cannot be ignored. Should be in trifecta bets.
24. ROSTROPOVICH 51kg
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien
Jockey: Wayne Lordan
Yet another euro raider, Rostropovich, trained by Irish master Aidan O'Brien came to Australia off the back of a 0.5 length second to Latrobe in the Irish Derby (2400m, G1) and win in the Paddy's Rewards Club Stakes (2400m, G3).
Likes: Gets in with no weight and this youngster is bred to stay. Never a threat at first run in Australia — but nobody expected him to seriously threaten in the Cox Plate (2040m, G1) and the stable said the run was simply a chance to get a competitive run into the horse ahead of his main target the Melbourne Cup.
Dislikes: Distance a query despite breeding as has never run further than 2400m.
VERDICT: Gets in with just 51kg and has settled well in Australia. Distance issue leaves him outside my top tier but class and stable means cannot be ignored.
NZME's Tips From The Trust Fund
Yucatan - Some will be sceptical of his short favouritism but after the blistering way he blew the Herbert Power Stakes (2400m, G2) field apart it's hard to blame punters for buying in. Barrier 23 will frighten some and rightly so but the great race has been won from there before and if a horse is good enough it can overcome. Gun Kiwi jockey James McDonald on board and itching to get back involved. Definitely respect.
Cross Counter - Could query a lightly raced 3yo but has won at 2800m and with only 51kg on his back he has to jump off the sheet. Barrier 19 but when proven and champion jockey Kerrin McEvoy wants the ride, clearly a major chance and the wide alley shouldn't matter. Charlie Appleby an excellent trainer also. Would include in trifectas.
Marmelo - Was a pretty big let down last year after being backed heavily but has been prepared carefully this year as the stable has forgone an Australian run. Jockey Hugh Bowman clearly likes something about this horse and that should matter. Liked last year and to be honest still do. Place hope at least.
Who Shot The Barman - This one is more for the sentimental. The veteran stayer has been a favourite to Kiwi racing fans through the years if not for the great name but for the gutsy effort he always displays. Master trainer and fellow Kiwi Chris Waller was thrilled when they won the Sydney Cup (3200) last Autumn and rightly so, an incredible effort for a horse so long in the tooth. He will become just the eighth 10-year-old to start in the race and the first of that age or older since 1982. Was valiant for fourth at Moonee Valley two weeks back and did his best work late. I'm tipping a top 10 finish. If you're really brave there's great value for a place. Wouldn't it be a great story.