With a field jam-packed with the best stayers from Europe and Japan, the race that stops the nation is fast becoming the race that stops the world! Racing writer, JUSTIN DEVINE, takes a look at the locally trained horses in this year’s race and rates their chances of keeping the Melbourne Cup down under.

When the Dermott Weld trained VINTAGE CROP powered down the outside to take out the 1993 Melbourne Cup, the floodgates opened. The allure of Australia’s most famous race was strong. European and Japanese horses would make an annual pilgrimage to try their luck.

In recent years, the overseas raiders have enjoyed considerable success. Prominent owner Lloyd Williams has made an art form out of purchasing European stayers and bringing them to Australia for the Cup including recent winners REKINDLING (2017), ALMANDIN (2016) and GREEN MOON (2012).  The powerful Godolphin racing operation won the Cup last year for the first time after 20 years of trying with CROSS COUNTER.

This year, there are six local chances. I have included ROSTROPOVICH and FINCHE in the list as they have been based in Australia for their new stables for over a year.

Is this the year?

1. Finche @ $8.50

T: Chris Waller / J: Kerrin McEvoy (54kg)

The imported galloper looks to be thriving after his full-time move to the Waller yard. All four runs this campaign have been good, including a close second behind KINGS WILL DREAM in the Turnbull Stakes (below). He wilL carry the same weight (54kgs) as he did when finishing 4th last year. FINCHE will be partnered by Kerrin McEvoy who has won the race three times before. A definite contender.

9. Rostropovich @ $81

T: Team Hayes & Dabernig / J: Dwayne Dunn (55kg)

Has been with the Hayes and Dabernig yard for a year after finishing fifth in last year’s Cup (below). David Hayes is one of four trainers engaged in the race to have won the race previously. ROSTROPOVICH has struggled so far this preparation and jumps 4kgs from last year. He will need to improve.

18. Surprise Baby @ $14

T: Paul Preusker / J: Jordan Childs (53.5kg)

It would be the feel-good story of the Cup if he can salute for trainer Paul Preusker and jockey Jordan Childs. Has followed a traditional style of preparation, winning his way through to the Cup by way of the Bart Cummings (below). Unlike most of his rivals, he is a winner over the 3200 metres and with 53.5kgs is sure to give a good sight.

21. Steel Prince @ $71

T: Anthony Freedman / J: Brett Prebble (52.5kg)

Enjoyed a fantastic patch of form earlier in the year, culminating with a win in the Andrew Ramsden (below) and a golden ticket into the Cup. STEEL PRINCE hasn’t found his best so far this campaign, but his trainer Anthony Freedman is flying in the big races. A win would surprise.

23.Vow and Declare @ $12

T: Danny O’Brien / J: Craig Williams (52kg)

The Danny O’Brien trained galloper has done little wrong this preparation, working home well in the Turnbull Stakes and then a strong second in the Caulfield Cup (below). With a win over 3000 metres under his belt, he will get the trip and looks thrown in with the 52kgs. The best Australian hope for years.

24.Youngstar $34

T: Chris Waller / J: Tommy Berry (52 kg)

Looked a potential superstar with a win in the Queensland Oaks followed up with a placing in the Queensland Derby last year. Has struggled to recapture that form, but finished strongly in the St Leger over 2600 metres last start. YOUNGSTAR got to within a length of WINX in the Turnbull last year (below). Is a chance if she can recapture that form with her lightweight.