Take Ethiopia in Australia
We've got a horse-by-horse guide to Tuesday morning's Emirates Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
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Last year's winner became the first original top-weight to win the Caulfield Cup, overcoming a wide draw in the process and he has similar problems here as well as 12lbs more on his back. However, connections believe that he's improved again and is the horse they all have to beat.
Won this race in 2010 and finished fourth 12 months ago, beaten just a length and a half having been forced to race wide. Relatively advanced in years now but shaped well on his prep in the Caulfield Cup and is a couple of pounds better off with Dunaden for a length and a half and this test clearly suits.
A Group One winner in Italy before joining Newmarket based trainer Marco Botti for whom he won the inaugural American St Leger in August. Beaten over six lengths when 13th of 18 in the Caulfield Cup and, although he was forced to race a little wide and may have needed the run, he clearly has his work cut out.
Progressed throughout last season and ran a huge race in this contest when going down by a nose to Dunaden who he has finished behind on both occasions that they've clashed since. However, he's maintained his level of form and is better off at the weights with his old rival.
Four-times a Grade One winner in the United States at up to a mile and a half but has been well held on all four starts for his current connections; latterly when beaten three lengths into sixth in the Mackinnon Stakes. Made some late gains when ninth in the Caulfield Cup suggesting this new trip could suit.
A dual-Group One winner in Italy but defeats behind the likes of Rio De La Plata and Campanologist suggest he's someway short of the best top-flight performers. Creditable efforts in Australia prior to finishing last in the Caulfield Cup and will do well to bounce back from that run.
Ended a barren spell of over two years with two victories this summer having been re-invented as a stayer. Well drawn and not inconceivable that he could run a big race for his owners who have saddled the runner-up on no fewer than three occasions but surprising if he writes his name in the history books.
Arguably flattered to deceive in 2011 but the switch to Luca Cumani (for whom he's won all three starts) has reaped dividends and this race has long been a target. Strong traveller with a touch of class and a turn of foot and looks a big player for a trainer who knows exactly what it takes to win this prize.
One of two representatives of 'Cup King' Bart Cummings but this son of Lomitas has finished nearer last than first on all four starts since arriving from America and hasn't done enough to suggest that he can provide his legendary handler with a 13th success in the race although the longer trip should suit.
Lightly raced gelding whose sole victory came in the Grade One Australian Derby at Randwick. Disappointing so far this season but there was more encouragement to be taken from his Cox Plate fourth in first time blinkers despite an aggressive ride and there could be more to come over this longer trip.
Having his first start in blinkers and his first since leaving the care of Sir Michael Stoute for whom he won twice. Didn't achieve as much as looked likely early in his career and even his Group Two win at Newmarket rather fell into his lap although the runner-up, Joshua Tree, has done his bit for the form. Reportedly worked well and the longer trip should suit.
Versatile performer who has looked better than ever back on the Flat this summer after impressing over hurdles in the winter. Trainer became the first international handler to win this race in 1993 and did so again in 2002. Fascinating contender but connections are concerned that conditions could ride too fast unless the forecast rain arrives in time on Tuesday.
Lost his way after a bright start for Sir Henry Cecil but back on track for his Australian connections, winning his first two starts before disappointing when favourite for the Caulfield Cup. May have done too much in front on that occasion and no doubt that he's capable of better but his build-up has been far from ideal with heat found in a leg.
Made an immediate impact on his first season in Australia, winning at Newcastle before finishing second in the Caulfield Cup. Has won twice since but disappointed when favourite for the Cox Plate with his jockey reporting that his mount 'didn't feel right'. Bit to prove but has attracted support in the build-up.
Victory would be something of a fairytale for the 2010 runner-up who was on death's door 12 months ago after a bout of pneumonia. Understandably taken time to recapture his form but shaped well on his penultimate start and again in the Geelong Cup where he caught the eye staying on after missing the break. His trainer reports him to be in great shape ahead of his big day.
Experienced campaigner who hasn't found it easy to get his head in front over the years, winning three of his 26 starts but finishing second on no fewer than seven occasions. A case at the weights can be made on bits and pieces of his form and the trip should suit but likely to be playing for minor honours at best.
My Quest For Peace
Returned to form under an enterprising ride at Goodwood in August when left alone in front and showed a good turn of foot when following up at the Sussex venue. Easy enough to pick holes in that form, however, and he has work to do to reverse the form of his Caulfield Cup run.
Like stablemate Maluckyday it would be something of a fairytale were he to provide his trainer with a first Cup success having come back from serious injury. That, however, looks unlikely as he's held by a number of today's rivals on recent form although he was only beaten four lengths into eighth last year.
Tac De Boistron
Four times a winner in France with the most recent of those victories a career highlight. Has reportedly pleased his new trainer who was at pains to point out that the Geelong Cup was nothing more than a prep. The race wasn't really run to suit but you'd still have liked to have seen more from him that day and the ground could be the fastest he's encountered unless there's significant rain.
Lights Of Heaven
In good form in June, recording back-to-back Grade Two wins at Eagle Farm and looks to be returning to peak form since being re-fitted with cheekpieces having made the frame in the Caulfield Cup last time. The way she stayed on in the closing stages suggests she's well worth a try over this longer trip.
The second Bart Cummings-trained runner but even his trainer's magician's touch is unlikely to see him pass the post in front. Finished in midfield 12 months ago when an outside chance and has done little in the interim to suggest that the outcome will be any different this time around.
Veteran campaigner who was far from disgraced in last year's renewal, finishing ninth beaten four lengths. A little lower in the weights this time around but has struggled to hit top form since running in Dubai in the spring and will do well to improve on last year's placing.
Kicked off his 2012 campaign with victory in the South Australian Derby but has cut little ice since, including against a number of today's rivals in the Turnbull Stakes. Showed more in the Caulfield Cup before finishing with a flourish in the Mackinnon Stakes which augurs well for this step back up in trip.
Earned his place in the field with victory in the Lexus Stakes on Saturday when getting on top close him so certainly comes into the race on the top of his game. Has proved consistent since being imported from Britain but needs to improve again for this step up in trip if he's to follow-up.
Dunaden attempts to become the fifth horse in history to claim back-to-back renewals of this prestigious contest and he certainly looked in rude health when winning at Caulfield.
It would take a tremendous performance to win under top-weight, however, and Americain - who ran a fine prep - is tempting with the swing in his weights in his favour.
It's a concern that neither Mount Athos nor Galileo's Choice have had a prep race with all of the last 11 winners having had a recent outing in one of the Spring Carnival's big races.
It's also proved difficult to win from a low or high draw with eight winners coming from gates nine to 15 and it may be worth taking a chance that Ethiopia can overcome his inexperience and get the better of Mikel Delzangles' smart stayer.