He is the best performed horse in the race (hence his topweight), has the best lead-in form and is last year's winner. He can win again but what sets this French horse apart from the rest is how fate has intervened so nicely for him. Last year, he either came for the Melbourne Cup (to become a legend) or was to be sent for snow racing at St Moritz.
Crowned as the world's best stayer following his 2010 Cup triumph, but managed to even outdo that performance 12 months later when he should have won but for a forgetful ride from Frenchman Gerald Mosse. Damien Oliver rides here.
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Our racing experts preview the 2012 Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
An Italian who recently has been on a world tour of sorts taking in Dubai, the US and now Australia. Not in the same class as the top French topweights, who he has raced before with no success, but has some weight relief from them here. Ran like a busted tap in the Caulfield Cup and I'm just not sure about the name. Doesn't sound like a Cup winner to me.
Beaten by a millimetre last year yet trainer Ed Dunlop was as gracious in defeat as one can be. He lamented: ''It was a pixel off being my greatest moment in racing.'' That cost Dunlop and the horse's connections $2.9 million, but it cost Dunlop his place in history as the first English trainer to win a Melbourne Cup. He vowed to return and here he is.
Began life with two-time Cup winner Dermot Weld in Ireland before becoming a class stayer in the US. Purchased for this race by breeder Anthony Mithen, who spotted him in retirement late last year.
This grey-haired Italian first hit the headlines doing his best work on the plane to Australia in July. He was being transferred to Peter Moody's stables at Caulfield for a shot at the Cup and so happened to be on the same flight as unbeaten supertar Black Caviar, who, according to Moody, fell for his suave moves on her return from her Royal Ascot run. Can't trust him.
If you pick the best lifetime run of any of these contenders, here's your winner. In October 2009, this horse ran third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in France, beaten two lengths by Sea The Stars. Last chance for Frankie Dettori to ride a Cup winner for Godolphin.
Comes into this race with three consecutive wins in England before an 80-day break to this race. Named after a mountain in Greece, which tells us little more than I too can use a search engine. But it is known as the Holy Mountain, is only accessible by boat and is mentioned in The Iliad. Hard to knock that.
Every Melbourne Cup runner
Not sure which horse to back? Our racing experts analyse all 24 contenders for the 2012 Melbourne Cup.
Would turn the Cup on its head if he won. Such a victory would present his trainer Bart Cummings with a 13th Cup win just days short of his 85th birthday, but would also provide a great insight into the Cup's evolution. Once a great critic of the imports, Bart saddles up an unlikely German-bred American stayer here, but one that has a bit to offer.
It is odd that the best chance an Australian-bred has to win the Cup is in fact called Ethiopia. But there is much about Ethiopia the horse that is indeed different to all other 23 horses in this race. Bred in WA by Wyadup Farm, he has only started seven times but included in those handful of runs are an ATC Derby win and a fourth placings in the Cox Plate. There's something about him.
Will struggle to recognise too many of the people kissing and hugging him if he is to win this race and he's been in Australia for just a few weeks after emigrating from England. Won't know his Kiwi jockey or new set of hopeful owners but it's a fair chance he'll know that bubbly woman in the hat at the bottom of the media pack. It's Gai, of course.
Will not only be the world's best stayer if he can win a third Cup for his trainer Dermot Weld, but also its toughest after his trip down under. Spent 24 hours in a float travelling from Ireland to London's Heathrow and it was close to another 24 hours before he set foot in Melbourne. Chance if he has regained will to live.
Gai saddled him up as favourite in the Caulfield Cup, but he was the first horse beaten. A former imported horse who won his previous four races for his famous trainer, he has been under a cloud with a hot hoof in the early part of the week. The hoof has since cooled but has some improving to do.
Was shaping as one of the best local hopes (yes, he was also imported from Europe two years ago) until he ran down the track in the Cox Plate as the favourite. Was a bit black and blue after a bruising run but he has recovered well this week.
One of the rare Australasian horses that seems born to run in the Cup. This Zabeel gelding did so with distinction two years ago when he ran second, splitting Americain and So You Think and finally, after a long battle with injury, he is back to somewhere near that shape.
We've seen quite a bit of this Lloyd Williams import over the past few seasons yet he is one of a handful of mystery runners here as he hasn't started for month. Been a little harshly treated by the critics as being one-paced (track talk for being slow) and while there is some truth to that, if he sustains that single pace for 3200 metres, there won't be too many left in front of him.
MY QUEST FOR PEACE
English stayer who has had ''My'' added to his name to distinguish him from a local filly Quest For Peace. The extended name now places him in rarefied air as being potentially the first horse with a four-word name to win the Melbourne Cup.
One of the few locally-bred horses in this line-up, much has been made of his name and how it is supposed to spell the encouraging words of To Win backwards. Sounds promising but have just heard back from the owners and in fact it has been updated to instead represent the words Tow In. Seems they don't like his chances of making it the whole way around.
TAC DE BOISTRON
As his name may suggest, he is not from this part of the world. This French horse took his time getting used to Melbourne's weather and the delights of downtown Werribee, but has started to put on weight in the past few weeks. Might be the escargot of the French assault.
LIGHTS OF HEAVEN
Probably the best chance her trainer Peter Moody has ever had in this race. A New Zealand-bred stayer by Zabeel, she is a well-credentialled mare who was the winner of the Brisbane Cup last campaign in a performance that suggested the 3200 metres here will be suitable.
The Richmond of horse racing. Outside the placings in the past two Melbourne Cups as well as having two unplaced runs in the Sydney Cup, Precedence shows a bit in the home and away season by taking a few big scalps while suffering some narrow defeats, before ultimately falling just short.
He's unusual in that he's from the US and he's suspect because he's a nine-year-old who has not won for two years. Came from near last to finish ninth, beaten just four lengths. in last year's Melbourne Cup. Is year older now and it's worth noting that no nine-year-old has ever won this race.
A Zabeel derby winner and for most Australians, that means he's a Melbourne Cup horse. He carries the mean and hungry look of a stayer and tries to confuse his opposition by settling at the tail of the field before charging too late. The youngest horse in the field and with a tiny weight. Not the roughest.
Was the last horse into the Cup field when he won the Lexus Stakes on Saturday. An imported horse who has been with Sydney's leading trainer Chris Waller for a year. Carries the lowest weight of any runner in the Cup and appears to be a stayer of rare talent. He might be No. 24 in the book but he's one of the top chances for this.