First run in 1869, when known as the Melbourne Stakes, the L. K. S. Mackinnon Stakes, is the 'last-chance cafe' for horses to qualify for the Melbourne Cup.
Victory in this million dollar, weight-for-age classic over 2000 metres, guarantees a start in Tuesday's 'race that stops the nation'.
It's been 14 years, however, since the winner of this race won the Cup - Rogan Josh in 1999. The best result for a recent Mackinnon winner was another Bart Cummings galloper, So You Think, which finished third in the Melbourne Cup in 2010.
So enter the Mackinnon field for 2013. Only 9 runners were paid up, with Jet Away, who finished a gallant fourth in the Caulfield Cup despite a gut-busting run, backed into $3 favouritism with tab.com.au fixed odds to win the Mackinnon.
For three-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Glen Boss, it's a case of rolling the dice. If Jet Away doesn't salute on Derby day, he will be watching Australia's greatest race in the jockey's room.
The 6 year old Cape Cross entire he will be riding was one of several unlucky runners in the Turnbull, the import's first run since winning the Group 3 Easter Cup over 2,000 at Caulfield in the autumn and the Golden Mile at Bendigo prior to that. I backed him in the Caulfield Cup and I'm sticking solid in the Mackinnon and then in the Cup where he is currently quoted at $19..
English galloper Side Glance must also be rated a strong chance in the Mackinnon. Trained by Andrew Balding, he over-raced before finishing an eye-catching sixth in the Cox Plate, after being placed in the Arlington Million in August and the Dubai World Cup behind Animal Kingdom in March.
His weight-for-age form over the middle-distance is extremely solid and if he can settle for Jamie Spencer, he may yet be another international lining up in the 'big dance' on Tuesday.
The win of Sertorius in Wednesday's Bendigo Cup franks the form of another imported galloper, Pakal, which defeated him in the Cranbourne Cup. The former German is a $5.50 third favourite with tab.com.au behind Solzhenitsyn, with the Toorak Handicap winner, which won't run in the Melbourne Cup, rated a $4.40 chance. The Rob Heathcote hayburner oozes class.
Then there's Dear Demi, which ran a tremendous third in the Caulfield Cup, thanks to a superb, rail-hugging ride from James McDonald. Two runs earlier, the VRC Oaks winner ran a close third to It's A Dundeel and Atlantic Jewel in the WFA Underwood Stakes. She is one tough mare and can definitely go one step closer to giving Singo his first Melbourne Cup victory. And a big shout!
Moriarty won the WFA Hill Stakes in Sydney and champion trainer Chris Waller will have him at his peak, while Mr Moet will have the pride of the west, Damien Oliver on board. Hvasstan scored impressively at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate day but faces a higher calling this Saturday.
I believe Glen Boss WILL be riding in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, after taking out the Mackinnon on Jet Away.
In the past 10 years, 3 favourites have won the race, and in true Bossy style, one more firm-elect is about to salute and make it 4 from 11.
My selections are JET AWAY to beat SIDE GLANCE, PAKAL and MORIARTY. Go you good thing!
G3 - The Coral.co.uk Winter Derby (class 1)
G2 - The Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle Race (class 1)
G2 - The Betbright Pendil Novices' Steeple Chase (class 1)
G2 - The Betbright Adonis Juvenile Hurdle Race (class 1)
G3 - The Betbright Steeple Chase (handicap) (class 1)