Damian Lane's gut tells him Mer De Glace can give him a special place in racing history in today's A$7.75 million ($8.3m) Melbourne Cup.

But he knows, like so many jockeys before him have painfully found out, you can never be sure your horse will truly see out the lung-searing 3200m until they hit the Flemington finish line first.

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Lane and Mer De Glace are trying to complete the Caulfield-Melbourne double today after the Japanese stayer came from near last to win the first leg 17 days ago.

But while winning the Melbourne Cup is most jockeys' dream, nobody dreams of achieving what Lane has the chance to achieve today.


Read more: 2019 Melbourne Cup - All you need to know about every horse

If the man they call Frosty, who so regularly rides for leading New Zealand stables in Australia, wins the Cup he will be the first jockey to ride the winners of Australia's Grand Slam in the same calendar year.

He already has the Golden Slipper, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate. Seven jockeys have ridden the Grand Slam over the course of their careers. But none in the same year.

"It is exciting to even get this close and of course I have thought about it," Lane told the Herald.

"But I won't be thinking about in on Tuesday. Now I have got this close the slam would be a bonus. I am on a real chance in the Melbourne Cup and that is all I will be thinking about.

"History will take care of itself."

Mer De Glace (Damian Lane) storms into Melbourne Cup contention as he wins the Caulfield Cup. Photo / Getty Images
Mer De Glace (Damian Lane) storms into Melbourne Cup contention as he wins the Caulfield Cup. Photo / Getty Images

Mer De Glace was so stunning at Caulfield even carrying the second topweight of 56kg today he could start favourite. And he is the horse to beat IF he stays the 3200m.

"I think he will, my gut instinct is he will," says Lane.


"Of course you never know with any horse who hasn't raced past 2400m and the 3200m has found plenty of good horses out.

"But he is a really good horse and I have only been on his back once since Caulfield and that was last Friday. He felt great, maybe even better than he did when he won."

With so many formlines, including more than a dozen Europeans who Lane has hardly seen race, he faces the same problem punters do today: Who is the best of them?

Or in Lane's case, which one should he be looking to track into the race?

"I have been doing a lot of form on them and watching replays.

"But I keep coming back to the ones who have raced here already as the ones to beat.

"I think Vow And Declare will be hard, so will Surprise Baby and I really like what Finche did in the Caulfield Cup," the jockey said.

If Mer De Glace can relax, as he did at Caulfield, and can get through his gears up the long Flemington straight, he might give Lane that Grand Slam. But the list of horses to beat encompasses almost the entire field.

Gone are the days when the Cup was contested by rugged local stayers, a few weight-for-ages horses stretching past their best distance and classic winners who were running because they had qualified.

The European invasion is deep, with form out of races like the Ascot Gold Cup (Master Of Reality, third, and Cross Counter, fourth), Ebor winner Mustajeer and both the Irish and English St Legers.

How that forms translates to Australian soil depends on many factors from track conditions, tempo, how tight the jockeys ride and, quite frankly, which of the visitors feels most at home.

Away from Mer De Glace maybe Finche and Constantinople have the best combination of staying form, light weight, top trainers and world-class jockeys to make them each-way chances.

But more than ever the Cup has become a race in which most contenders have several reasons why they can win and a couple that they supposedly can't.

So punters are better narrowing it down to whichever team they believe will be best suited at Flemington today — the classic-bred Europeans, the hardened locals or the world force which the Japanese have become.

And one Kiwi stayer called The Chosen One. Which after the race might actually be a good name for Damian Lane.

Melbourne Cup day


Flemington racecourse, Melbourne.

When: Today, first race at 12.55pm (NZ time), Cup runs at 5pm.

What: 3200m thoroughbred race worth A$7.75m.

Winner: Gets A$4.4m, runners paid down to 12th (A$160,000).

Who: Twenty-four horses from five different countries.

How to follow: Follow the Herald's live updates of the Melbourne Cup from 9am on nzherald.co.nz and on Newstalk ZB from 5pm. You can watch the race live on SKY's TAB Trackside 1 channel, and TAB customers can stream the race on the TAB website.

Betting: TAB has win, place, quinella, trifecta and fixed odds betting on all races, with special options on the Cup. Also betting on four NZ race meetings today.

Local races: Ellerslie races start at 12.05pm.

Michael Guerin's Cup tips

1: Mer De Glace

2: Finche

3: Constantinople

4: Master Of Reality