The Emirates Melbourne Cup is the race that stops a nation, and the winner carves its name into the history books.
It is hard to imagine a story to top Prince of Penzance from 2015, with trainer Darren Weir, jockey Michelle Payne and her brother, strapper Stevie Payne, all immortalised in the Melbourne Cup story.
The Ciaron Maher-trained Jameka is the only Australian-bred horse in this year’s race – Sertorius was in the same boat in the 2015 Cup.
Maher’s mare is trying to emulate the feats of Ethereal, who famously won the Cups double for Sheila Laxon in 2001.
Gai Waterhouse won the Cup in 2013 with Fiorente, and in 2016, she is joined in partnership by Adrian Bott as they run Excess Knowledge.
Bott said that despite the long quote on offer on the seven-year-old, Excess Knowledge – seventh in last year’s Cup – can run well again.
“Absolutely super,” Bott said of the horse’s condition.
“He’s come through his last start in great order. Physically he’s in great shape.
“Really happy with where he’s at going into the race.
“He’s a happy horse at present, he looks and feels well.
“With a little bit of luck in running, he could be very competitive.”
The runner-by-runner form guide
Fifth last year, and trainer confident of improvement one year on.
Group 1 winner, but Freedman’s second seed.
Berry is promising to put the pace into the race. Last run over 3200m was huge.
Price is a bit skinny for a horse whose last win came in a three-horse race.
Third in Caulfield Cup. Trainer-jockey won ’95 Cup with Doriemus.
Only horse to beat him this spring is Winx. And she’s not here.
Loves two miles. Third in the 2014 Cup.
Carpark draw the only knock. Mullins has a great record in race without winning.
Finished 18th last year, but race didn’t suit. Hasn’t had much luck at Flemington.
Sydney Cup winner. First time racing at Flemington.
Moonee Valley Cup winner. Finished 21st last year.
Trying to emulate Ethereal as a mare to do the Cups double. Carries weight, but she’s a star.
Won four of last five, including two 3200m races.
Battled in Caulfield Cup, but consistent horse otherwise.
Seventh in the race last year, and loves Flemington. Best roughie.
Like Willie Mullins, trainer has had a few Cup placings. Horse hasn’t won beyond 2400m.
The Bart Cummings winner looks the classiest of Lloyd Williams’ quartet.
Herbert Power Stakes winner – strength of race? Hasn’t fired at Flemington.
Beat home Oceanographer in Geelong Cup, and is five times the price.
Lexus Stakes win was huge, but three runs in 13 days? Query.
Has Flemington experience last spring, and been kept fresh since.
The Geelong Cup winner. Williams hungry to fulfil the only major he hasn’t won.
Luke Sheehan’s Melbourne Cup selections:
3: Wicklow Brave
4: Excess Knowledge
Other Group races on Cup Day:
Ottawa Stakes: Madeenaty
Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes: Silent Sedition
Luke Sheehan is a journalist at racing.com