It doesn't get any better than a horse race that has a public holiday for it. The Melbourne Cup will be run tomorrow (3pm local time, 4am GMT). This may be the strongest Cup ever, it's certainly the best in my era with Group 1 winners galore, but it also has a few that should have been excluded on recent form.
So You Think is an absolute superstar. It showed on Saturday it can settle, go to sleep and then switch back on when necessary. That's what Saintly did to win in 1996, and only a rough trip in running is likely to beat him. From gate three, he might just squeezed and shuffled back a bit. Even still, very hard to beat him, no major concern about the distance despite not having run further than 2040m, High Chaparral's are flying in Aus at the moment and it would be fitting for the 150th Melbourne Cup to go to the master, Bart Cummings.
As for the others:
Shocking - won last year, goes up in weight, but loves Flemington. Was drawn v.wide last year so not bothered by that.
Campanologist - Godolphin horse which will keep on running, but doubt he can win. German and Italian form is not up to this.
Zipping - jolly old fellow, a 9yo running as well as ever, but can't see him better his previous record of two fourths.
Illustrious Blue - don't rate him, this isn't Goodwood. Does have G.Boss aboard though.
Mr Medici - Hong Kong horse who ran well in the Caulfield Cup despite the swamplike conditions. Not a million to one.
Shoot Out - early spring form in the sprints, now looking more like a stayer. AJC Derby winner in the autumn, ran home nicely on Saturday in the Mackinnon. I'm on him at 33/1 but struggle to see him beating the fav.
Americain - impressive in the Geelong Cup when didn't have much room until late but ran on well to win. Mosse to ride, will like the give in the ground. Best of the foreigners.
Tokai Trick - 9yo Japanese horse, super-tough stayer, but surely a 9yo can't win the strongest Cup in memory? Will keep on going though, chance for the exotics.
Buccellati - travesty that this horse is in the field ahead of others with better form this year. No hope.
Descarado - won the Caulfield Cup in extreme conditions. Drawn 1, must push forward or will get locked away. Top run on Saturday as well.
Harris Tweed - 2nd in the Caulfield Cup, fifth in this race last year, chances improved on very wet track, but dour enough to get into the placings on firmer ground too.
Manighar - Cumani import, ran fifth at Caulfield, will appreciate firmer ground. Drawn wide but decent chance.
Master O'Reilly - fourth in 08 and09 but has done nothing this year. Lucky to be in the field.
Monaco Consul - third at Caulfield, another High Chaparral, will keep on running. Last year's VRC Derby winner.
Profound Beauty - the hyped Dermot Weld horse. She ran fifth in 2008 but the field that year was decimated by equine influenza and the travel restrictions in Australia. She's now 7, has been beating small fields in Ireland, and now she's drawn gate 22 of 24. Can't see her in the money.
Zavite - 19th of 22 last year, unlikely to do much better.
Bauer - 2nd in 2008 (see Profound Beauty), hardly raced since. Cumani runner, could surprise but will be leaving him out of my exotcs.
Holberg - the more highly-rated Godolphin runner. Will go forward, Frankie is desperate to win this race after so many placings over the years, on horses from this stable which weren't given much hope. 3200m no problem for him having won over that distance at Royal Ascot as a 3yo.
Precedence - flying this spring but ran dead last in the Sydney Cup in the autumn. Received a controversial penalty to get into the field at the expense of a few others, don't think he deserved it - you can't justify him being within 2.5kg of SYT.
Red Ruler - how on earth is this horse in the field? A million to one.
Linton - up and coming stayer who gives the impression he'll be better next year. Owned by Lloyd Williams who has won this race on more than one occasion.
Once Were Wild - AJC Oaks winner, better run on Saturday but more to find to trouble these.
Maluckyday - got into the field by winning very impressively on Saturday. That's the same formline and weight as Shocking won with last year. Must be a chance, Saturday's jockey (who can't make the weight) described him as the best stayer he'd ridden since Kiwi, the Cup winner of 1983.....
Two schools of thought here - either the favourite wins easily so concentrate on finding value in the placings to land the trifecta and First 4, or the fav is a risk and anything could win.
Will be going wide in the SYT banker trifectas, including runners at juicy odds such as Campanologist, Linton, Mr Medici, Monaco Consul.
Set your clocks, I'll be staying up all night.... Can't wait!