Jockeys Damien Oliver and Nick Hall will today have absolutely differing mental attitudes as they approach tomorrow's A$3 million Caulfield Cup.
Hall, booked to ride the $3.40 favourite Jameka, will concentrate on losing a last brutal 2.5kg off his already spare body to ride the mare at 52.5kg and Oliver will be working out a tactic to appeal against the equally brutal 20-raceday suspension he received for reckless riding at Caulfield on Wednesday.
Oliver's suspension could not have come at a worst time. He rides in tomorrow's Caulfield Cup, but misses the Cox Plate then the following Saturday the fabulously rich Victoria Derby Day on the opening day of the Melbourne Cup carnival before resuming on Cup Day itself.
Hall's problem will be over much earlier. On Wednesday, he said, he was handling the denial diet well, adding quickly: "But ask me the same question late on Friday.
"It's going to get tough, but the tougher it gets, the closer I get to the race, so there's pretty fair motivation there."
The young jockey uses yoga and meditation to focus his mind. "I meditate for 45 minutes before bed." That might be a touch difficult tomorrow night if Jameka gets over the line first.
Hall, who won the 2014 Caulfield Cup on $11 chance Fawkner, has approached this year's quest with a combination of a focused mind and self-denial.
The key to successful meditation is clearing the mind, something Hall said had been easy with Jameka "because there's not much to think about".
"I'm not too worried. I'll think about it as I get a bit closer, but she's a monster,"he said of the TAB's $3.40 favourite.
"That's great for me. I like horses that are thick and strong, it gives you confidence in them.
"I'd say I'm at least as confident as I was with Fawkner."
In the past two decades, the Caulfield Cup has been the toughest race all season to analyse. The reason is that it is the first chance to weigh up the Northern Hemisphere raiders.
They have an enormous record in the race and only Jameka seemingly stands between them and victory.
Godolphin's English-trained Scottish is the $7.50 second favourite, Articus fourth favourite at $8.50 and Coolmore's Sir Isaac Newton from Ireland is the $11 fifth favourite.
Lee Freedman will produce former English stayer Exospheric, to be ridden by Damien Oliver.
Interestingly, Freedman is tipping as the horse to beat, Articus, trained in Germany by the talented former amateur jockey Andreas Wohler.
"I like the way this horse has paraded since he's been in Melbourne," says Freedman.
Wohler, who won the 2014 Melbourne Cup with Protectionist, returned the favour by saying Exospheric is well worth attention as is Scottish. "Both had excellent form in Europe."
Why this is a difficult race is that yes, previous European form is one of the Caulfield Cup indicators, but equally important, if not perhaps most important, is how the individual has handled the long trip to Melbourne and has settled into strange surroundings. Wohler has experience in that area.
Zac Purton has come down from Hong Kong to ride Articus.
Trainer Ciaron Maher, who looks more like a rock star, is happy with Jameka's No 13 barrier. "I'm not going to tell Nick how to ride her; he knows her well."
Summary: Yes, Jameka is entitled to her favouritism, but the $3.40 might be a touch of the shorts against a field full of Europeans when it is virtually impossible to compare Australian spring form and the generally very strong European action. At $8.50, Articus looks value on 53kg.
New Zealand's only Caulfield Cup entry Fanatic had to be withdrawn yesterday. A spider bite is thought to be the reason.
"When Dad (Graeme Sanders) arrived at the stable this morning she had a blown-up joint in a front leg," said daughter and training partner Debbie Sweeney. "There is a small puncture wound and the vet believes it is a spider bite.
"There is no suggestion how long it might take to come right, but there is a fair bit of the carnival still to go."
• Well suited: Scapolo, R7, Rotorua. Has been carrying big weights and
comes into this well at weight-for-age. Won't worry how heavy the
• Unbeaten on the heavy: Seventh Up, R3 Rotorua. Looks well placed to further a good record in a limited career. Has a good one to beat in Battle Time. The quinella perhaps.
• Absolutely a mudder: Raisedinasandpit, R4 Tauranga today. In great
form and her wet track guide entitles her to favouritism.