IT IS the usual suspects who are commanding the attention from punters on the eve of the Melbourne Cup with increasing interest in the horses prepared by champion trainers Luca Cumani and two-time winner Dermot Weld.
Cumani saddles Mount Athos and My Quest For Peace, with Mount Athos attracting big bets with Centrebet in recent days. There was one bet on Mount Athos of $5000 at $9 while Weld's sole hope Galileo's Choice has continued to firm with many smaller bets of $1000 and $2000 between $41 and Sunday's $18.
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''As the race gets closer, punters are starting to come back to the familiar faces,'' Centrebet's Michael Felgate said on Sunday.
''They figure that Luca Cumani has gone so close so many times that he's due to crack it and with Dermot, his runners are always well supported because of his reputation and for his two wins in the race.''
Both Mount Athos, which is the third favourite and Galileo's Choice are expected to be popular with punters on Monday at the annual Call Of The Card.
Cumani was confident he could add to his two placings and said on Sunday that he has made his most determined bid ever to win the Melbourne Cup this year. He said that his two runners were his best chances of winning the race.
He described his pair of stayers as ''the two strongest horses that I've brought'', comparing them to Purple Moon, which finished second in the 2007 Melbourne Cup behind Efficient.
''They're probably similar to Purple Moon,'' he said. ''He was a horse on the way up as well. He hadn't run in a group race before he came here and then he became a solid group 1 horse.''
My Quest for Peace heads to the Cup after finishing fifth in last month's Caulfield Cup, a result which drew some criticism. But not from Cumani.
''I thought he ran very well because we were a bit closer to the pace than we would have liked and, if you look at the first six throughout the race, the other five all finished out the back and he was the only one that was still there and was only beaten a length and three quarters in the end,'' he said. ''And I reckon he's come on from that race.''