It's that time of year again, when friends, colleagues, co-workers and long lost relatives expect a cast iron tip for the Melbourne Cup! Now more than ever that means not only knowing the local scene inside out but also inside leg measurement of the International raiders.
So who can win and who's here making up the numbers?
Admire Rakti – Tomoyuki Umeda
While he'll win: A dominant display in the Caulfield Cup saw him round the field, also under top weight, and he's widely expected to improve for the step up in trip.
Why he won't: The 1/2kg penalty for the Caulfield Cup win takes him up to 58.5kg – weight stops trains.
Prediction: Respected - Top 6
Red Cadeaux - Ed Dunlop
While he'll win: Ever-green 8 year old who has finished 2nd twice in 3 attempts so far, knows Flemington better than John Letts and always saves his best for here.
Why he won't: He hasn't been good enough the last 3 years, Vintage Crop the only to have won the Cup without a local prep run.
Prediction: Can’t write him off - Top 6
Cavalryman - Saeed bin Suroor
Why he'll win: Classy & consistent and despite now being an 8 year old he is enjoying his best season in years.
Why he won't: Was only 12th here two years ago, highlighting he's limitations in a race of this nature.
Prediction: Midfield finish.
Protectionist - Andreas Wohler
Why he'll win: Won the Prix Kergorlay at Deauville off a slow pace with a sharp turn of foot. American won the same race en route to victory in 2010.
Why he won't: Needs to improve on 4th in The Herbert Power Stakes with Signoff in front of him .
Prediction: Winner, winner!
My Ambivalent - Roger Varian
Why she'll win: A Group 1 winning mare has form around some of the World’s best in Cirrus Des Aigles & Gentildonna.
Why she won't: Troubled preparation since arriving at Werribee has had to pass vet checks just to make the line-up.
Prediction: Quirky but talented – Top 4
Check the full TAB.com.au market for the Melbourne Cup here.
Seismos - Marco Botti
Why he'll win: Group 1 winner over 2400m in Germany, resolute stayer too. Caulfield Cup run will have put him spot on.
Why he won't: Doesn't have the tactical speed to get into a winnable position, can be one paced.
Prediction: Staying on late – Top 6
Royal Diamond - Johnny Murtagh
Why he'll win: Former Irish St Leger, like Vintage Crop, a classy individual on his day.
Why he won't: Also part of the "aged" brigade at 8yo, his best years may be behind him.
Prediction: Would be a big upset, not for me.
Mutual Regard - Johnny Murtagh
Why he'll win: Last start winner of Europe’s richest Hcp the Ebor at York, could still be ahead of the Handicapper.
Why he won't: Appeared to find very little off the bridle and may be outstayed close home.
Prediction: Well in? Top 10
Gatewood - John Gosden
Why he'll win: Hasn't been worse than 2nd all season in Europe and a Geelong Cup winner from 2 years ago.
Why he won't: Has been racing on soft and heavy tracks this season, it will be much quicker on Tuesday.
Prediction: Might have missed his chance in 2012
Willing Foe - Saeed bin Suroor
Why he'll win: Ebor winner from 2 seasons ago, strong traveller, talented may not have fulfilled his potential.
Why he won't: This is only his 4th start in the last 2 years, a tough ask in anyone’s book.
Prediction: Fly in the ointment? Top 6
Au Revoir - Andre Fabre
Why he'll win: Only beaten 5l in a recent 'Arc' trial at Longchamp. Solid debut at Moonee Valley last week & French trained runners have a great record here.
Why he won't: Hasn't achieved anything like the level of form of some of his rivals.
Prediction: Not his year.
Whilst the Internationals make a formidable team the Australian & NZ contingent, I'm sure, will certainly make their presence felt and may well fill 3 of the first 4 places but my feeling is that it will be Deutschland, Deutschland über alles and a victory for Protectionist - Good Luck!
G1 - The Bet365 Celebration Steeple Chase (class 1)
G3 - The Bet365 Gold Cup Steeple Chase (handicap) (class 1)
G1 - Aes Champion 4yo Hdle
Grade B - Setanta Sport H'cap Hdle
Grade B - Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe H'cap Chase