It may be a month away but the excitement and fervour is beginning to mount for “the race that stops a nation”, the Melbourne Gold Cup in Australia.
Preparations are well under way for trainers and owners with Gold Cup ambitions, especially those international raiders who have to organise transportation and quarantine for their equine stars.
Let’s take a look through some of the runners that all being well will line up at Flemington Park on Tuesday 7th November.
Almandin (current odds 6/1)
Almandin is favourite to join an exclusive group of back-to-back Melbourne Cup winners and represents the home nation.
The defending Melbourne Cup champion can be forgiven his unplaced run in The Bart Cummings race as he did not get a favourable draw at all.
Almandin is rated one of the best stayers in Australia and will be a tough nut to crack on the day.
Bonneval (current odds 10/1)
Dual Oaks winner and New Zealand horse of the year Bonneval arguably has the perfect weight to win the Melbourne Cup should she take up her entry.
Bonneval began her campaign with an impressive victory in the Group Two Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley. Just over 24 hours later she was named Horse of the Year, Three-Year-Old of the Year and Stayer of the Year for the 2016-17 season at the New Zealand Thoroughbred awards.
Ventura Storm (current odds 14/1)
David Hayes, who trains in partnership with his son and nephew, is aiming import Ventura Storm at the Melbourne Cup and hasn't ruled out the Caulfield Cup.
"I would say he's our number one seed (for the Melbourne Cup)," Hayes said.
Ventura Storm won a Group One race in Italy last October after his second in the St Leger at Doncaster
He finished midfield in the Heatherlie Handicap on his second Australian start.
"We're just getting the miles into his legs," Hayes said.
"There's no pressure on him because he's qualified and in the Cup. So we just have to get him in form by late October."
Amelie’s Star (current odds 14/1)
Darren Weir’s impressive mare Amelie’s Star put herself right into the Melbourne Cup frame by upstaging Almandin in The Bart Cummings at Flemington.
Weir said he was still unsure which path the mare would take before the first Tuesday in November.
“I don’t really know, to be honest,” Weir said of the six-year-old mare’s lead-up run before the Melbourne Cup. “But it’s a good problem to have.”
“She has had a beautiful preparation, she is going to have to have a run between now and then. We will just map out what we do, but she is very sound and has lots and lots of miles in her legs. We just need to get things right between now and the Melbourne Cup and who knows what will happen.”
Red Cardinal (current odds 16/1)
It was announced at the weekend Ryan Moore will partner Red Cardinal at Flemington.
This brings together the team that won the 2014 Melbourne Cup with Protectionist - trainer Andreas Wohler, owners Australian Bloodstock and Ryan Moore.
Red Cardinal is currently in quarantine following his arrival in Australia just over a week ago.
He was expected to run in the Herbert Power Stakes, the race Protectionist ran fourth in before his Cup victory, but will head straight into the feature race on November 7th without having an Australian start.
Admire Deus (current odds 16/1)
Top Australian jockey Craig Williams has endorsed Darren Weir’s Admire Deus as a serious Cup contender after partnering the Japanese import on the gallops at Werribee.
“I’m really happy with where he’s at,” Williams said. “He’s moving really well, he’s athletic and he’s got a very, very big motor. He was very, very solid when I asked him.
“I’ve been really happy with his preparation.
“Darren Weir’s been down to have a look at him and he’s really happy with him.
And Matt (Scown), who’s been his travelling foreman, he spent time with him in Japan and is now in quarantine with him here is happy with the way the horse has travelled.
“I went across to Japan to sit on him and I think that’s been very important to have a base to compare him to over.”
Marmelo (current odds 25/1)
Hughie Morrison's dual Group-winning stayer went into quarantine in mid-September and has arrived in Australia to be prepared for the big race.
Marmelo is up towards the head of the weights carrying 8st 9lb for the prestigious two mile handicap.
"The handicapper's been pretty tough on him. The form probably reflects his rating and on we go.
"Hopefully he can run well over there and come back for the Cup races here next year.
"We've been quite careful not to over-race him this year as we've had this race at the back of our minds."
Marmelo won the Group Two Prix Kergoraly at Deauville on his latest start.
Nakeeta (current odds 25/1)
Nakeeta will fly out to Australia on Thursday after a period of quarantine in Newmarket. As well as capturing this year’s Ebor, Europe’s most valuable handicap, and the Old Borough Cup in 2015, the Iain Jardine trained gelding finished second in last season’s Chester Cup.
When the weights were revealed Jardine said: "He's got the same mark as Heartbreak City (last year's Ebor winner who finished a close second in Melbourne) and he should get a run.
"I'd be hopeful of getting him there in the same form he is in now and if he is, he must have a chance.
"He's a stayer with a change of gear, which is what you need.
"It's not every year you get the chance to run in a Melbourne Cup."
Any horse that Ryan Moore rides in a feature race is likely to see plenty of support in the days leading up to the event. At this moment in time an e/w wager on Red Cardinal at 16/1 looks a generous price for the early birds out there.