Melbourne Cup Preview
The latest renewal of the Melbourne Cup takes place at Flemington early next week.
It is 13 years since the Dermot Weld-trained Media Puzzle solved the riddle of the Melbourne Cup.
No British- or Irish-trained horse has managed to raid the 'race that stops a nation' at Flemington since, but hopes are high that all could change in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
A crack team of stayers have travelled to Australia for the race, with this year's total of 11 international runners in the field of 24 matching the record tally.
Japanese runner Fame Game has been dominating the ante-post market for some time and, having a secured a good draw in stall 12 for the race, he looks set to carry favouritism on race day.
Right behind him are Ed Dunlop's Trip To Paris and the Willie Mullins representative Max Dynamite.
Trip To Paris has proven himself to be amongst the best stayers in Britain this season, winning the Chester Cup in May before finishing strong and powerfully to land the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot a month later.
Run on good to firm ground at the Berkshire track, it is that form line that Dunlop will be hoping puts his four-year-old right in the mix for Melbourne Cup glory.
Trip To Paris has already enjoyed the benefit of a run on Australian soil, finishing a gallant runner-up in the Caulfield Cup over a trip that was less than his optimum.
His trainer has stated his belief that the extra distance to cover at Flemington is a big plus point for Trip To Paris and, while respectful of Fame Game, Dunlop is clearly keen on his chances. Three-time Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux will also have another crack at the race for Dunlop.
The Mullins camp have not enjoyed much success in Melbourne in the past, but Max Dynamite has travelled and prepared well for the race, according to his peerless handler.
Mullins admits he was pleasantly surprised at the manner in which Max Dynamite ran away with the Lonsdale Cup at York on his most recent outing. He was a comfortable winner on that occasion and had a dozen lengths to spare on Trip To Paris, albeit on soft ground.
The Aidan O'Brien bandwagon is served by a pair of runners in the form of Bondi Beach and Kingfisher.
St Leger runner-up Bondi Beach gallops into the unknown at this trip although Kingfisher, the mount of Colm O'Donoghue, does not have a lot to find with Trip To Paris from their Royal Ascot meeting.
Trainer Chris Waller tops the home entries with three contenders in Preferment, last year's third-placed horse Who Shot Thebarman, and Grand Marshal.
Gai Waterhouse won the race in 2013 with Fiorente and she counts Excess Knowledge among her two runners this time around. He had to win the Lexus Stakes to book his slot in this field and, having escaped a penalty for that success, looks a lively outsider.
The same applies to another of the British raiders, Michael Bell's Big Orange. He showed his potential on good ground this summer with victories at Newmarket and Goodwood and should be seen to better effect back on a sound surface having flopped at York on soft ground.
Ryan Moore won the race last year on Protectionist and will team up this time with Sir Michael Stoute's runner Snow Sky.