The last 3 winners of the Melbourne Cup have been European bred horses.
Green Moon of course was firmly ensconced at Macedon Lodge when lifting Australian's greatest race but the balance of power is there for all to see.
This year 19 of the 24 final acceptances carry a European suffix although 'only' 9 of those are actually trained overseas. So who's the best and are they good enough?
It's worth noting that the 4 winners of the International brigade since Vintage Crop won in 1993 have all had a prep run in Australia before coming home in front on the First Tuesday, that's not to say that has to be the case again but it's a good place to start.
Dandino was purchased specifically for this race by Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock and the 6yo entire has enjoyed a wonderful preparation. The winner of the American St Leger at Arlington, overcoming trouble in running to do so, before a slashing 2nd to Fawkner in the Caulfield Cup. A word of warning though from previous trainer though James Fanshawe who always thought he should stay 2miles but could never get him to do so, a $9.00 chance with TAB.com.au though if you think Marco Botti will.
Simenon also has the benefit of a recent hit out with a solid 3rd to Sea Moon in the Herbert Power over an inadequate 2400m. Willie Mullins gelding almost spoiled the Royal party at Ascot in June when only just failing to catch Estimate in the Gold Cup over 4000m. A stayer with tactical speed trained by master tactician Mullins, $18 fixed odds with TAB.com.au looks quite attractive.
Ruscello has raced twice since arriving at Werribee and snuck into the field courtesy of an all the way win in the Lexus on Saturday. As a result the odds, not surprisingly, have shortened from $301 to $41 TAB.com.au. Trainer Ed Walker learnt his trade, in part, working as Assistant trainer to Luca Cumani, OTI have bought into the gelding and Cox Plate winning Jockey Chad Schofield will get the leg up. In theory Ruscello doesn't have the class to win but with the team attached underestimate at your peril.
The other 6 runners will be first up on Tuesday.
Dunaden, winner of the Melbourne Cup in 2011 and last year's Caulfield Cup hero, is without question a class act, but hasn't won since Caulfield last October. Plans for an assault on the "Arc" were shelved after not measuring up behind Ofevre in a trial and is now a $26 chance to become a dual winner and regain his crown in one of the best ever renewals, it looks tough under top weight.
Red Cadeaux chased Dunaden home in 2011 only losing out by a nose; Ed Dunlop's Sha Tin Vase winner looks weighted right up to his best but it's debateable as to whether he arrives here in career best form. At $41 this year's Dubai World Cup runner-up looks to a place chance at best.
Brown Panther, this year's Goodwood Cup winner was immediately declared as an intended runner at the Spring Carnival by owner Michael Owen in the winner's enclosure after the race. A raised temperature prevented the 7 time winner from lining up at the Curragh for the Irish St Leger but all reports since arriving at Werribee indicate the Shirocco entire to be in rude health and is available at $19 TAB.com.au to raise the roof at Flemington.
Mount Athos was a fast finishing 5th last year and is currently second favourite at $8.50 to give Luca Cumani his first win in the Cup after coming so close twice before. However, although the 6yo races off the same handicap mark as last year this seasons form doesn't look as strong and on drawing barrier 22 Cumani tweeted: "Damn it."
Saeed bin Suroor much like Luca Cumani has come agonisingly close on a number of occasions to landing the "Race that stops a Nation" and has nominated Royal Empire ($26 TAB.com.au) as the best horse he has travelled to Melbourne "for the race." Victory over Red Cadeaux in a G3 (2700m) marked him as a stayer of some potential but may lack the turn of foot to come home in front.
Alain de Royer-Dupre masterminded the success of Americain in 2010 and this year travels 4yo filly Verema ($15 Tab.com.au) giving the Aga Khan his first taste of the Melbourne Cup. Both horses have trod a similar path with mid-summer success in the G2 Prix Kergorlay, with Verema beating subsequent G1 winner Joshua Tree in the process. The significant difference being that Americain won the Geelong Cup after the Kergorlay, Verema will be first up.
Which brings us back to our starting point - do you need a local prep to win The Cup?
If the answer is yes, Dandino, Simenon and Ruscello are the horses for you, if the trend is to be bucked then Verema or Brown Panther may be the answer.
Home ground advantage counts for a great deal though and it may not be the Euro trained whitewash some are predicting. It may be a different story for European Breeders' though and possibly, and sadly some might say, only a matter of time before all 24 are bred overseas.