It's that time of year again. The race that stops a nation is just a few days away and there's plenty for punters to get excited about. Read on for our unofficial preview of each runner.
No. 1 - BIG ORANGE (7)
BIG ORANGE certainly lives up to his namesake, he’s truly a gigantic horse and weighs 550kgs all up. The six-year-old stayer is the T-Rex Williams of the racing world and watching him gallop down the Flemington straight will be a sight to behold. I'm genuinely concerned for anything that gets in this monster’s way when he's in full flight.
No. 2 - OUR IVANHOWE (6)
OUR IVANHOWE is praying to the weather gods for the odd tropical cyclone or two. It's known that ze German horse is not used to Australian sunshine, or any sunshine really, and is practically begging for showers to give it a nice soft track. The seven-year-old has had plenty of feet issues (apparently he has weekly bookings with a podiatrist) so you'll be donating your cash if it stays dry.
No. 3 - CURREN MIROTIC (18)
CURREN MIROTIC dresses like the lovechild of your Hi Vis construction worker and 90s raver. You can spot the nine-year-old from a mile away by his trademark bright, fluorescent orange bridle and reins, complete with matching bandages on his front and back legs. The Japanese horse is also the oldest runner in the race and should probably be playing bingo instead.
No. 4 - BONDI BEACH (5)
A runner that will attract the unsuspecting tourist dollars, BONDI BEACH actually hails from Tipperary, Ireland where the beaches are reportedly less than stellar. However, the five-year-old will be looking to tap into that famous Irish luck come Tuesday afternoon. Jumping from barrier five, punters will be hoping the stallion's Cup run is not beached az bro.
No. 5 - EXOSPHERIC (13)
The five-year-old was smoked by JAMEKA a few weeks back, claiming a distant third place in the Caulfield Cup. EXOSPHERIC will try and go two spots better on Tuesday. Jockey, Damien Oliver has won this race in 1995, 2002 and 2014, however, he’s coming off a longish riding suspension so could be a bit rusty on Tuesday.
No. 6 - HARTNELL (12)
HARTNELL is still recovering from a serious case of wind-burn from his Cox Plate run. You've just got to wonder where this fella is at mentally after watching one of the girls stroll past him at Moonee Valley where WINX could have easily lapped him. Tuesday will prove a real test of his character, although the six-year-old will surely start as favourite.
No. 7 - WHO SHOT THE BARMAN (20)
WHO SHOT THE BARMAN is back for a third bite of the Cup cherry. Fun fact, the eight-year-old is named in memory of owner, Dan O'Leary's 'Aunty Julie' who would yell "Who shot the barman?" whenever her gin ran out. After disappointing in 2015 with an eleventh place finish, let's hope the gelding doesn't leave fans drowning their sorrows.
No. 8 - WICKLOW BRAVE (24)
Whether it's feature jumps or flat races, WICKLOW BRAVE can do pretty much anything. Anything, that is, apart from hopping out of the barriers in a timely fashion. The versatile eight-year-old often starts slower than the internet In Syria. Trainer, Willie Mullins, has over $6 million good reasons to sort that out asap.
No. 9 - ALMOONQITH (19)
ALMOONQITH qualified for the Cup last year and has clearly been snoozing ever since. Loyal punters will tell you he's long overdue for a win but the stallion absolutely hates getting his little hooves wet. In the words of trainer, David Hayes, the seven-year-old is clearly a "firm track horse" meaning the slightest hint of rain and all bets are off.
No. 10 - GALLANTE (2)
GALLANTE underwent what trainer, Lloyd Wiliams, described as "the ultimate gear change" back in July 2014. While previously known for a shocking attitude, the six-year-old clearly had the fear of god put in him and is still trying to compensate for the loss of his crown jewels. You'd hope that extends to a big Cup win for the gelding.
No. 11 - GRAND MARSHAL (9)
GRAND MARSHALL's jockey, Jim Cassidy, has been in cold sweats all week after learning Frankie Dettori is also riding on Tuesday. If you remember, the Italian jockey narrowly failed to assassinate Cassidy along with several other riders coming down the home straight of the 2015 Cup. Thankfully, the barrier draw has the seven-year-old well separated from WICKLOW BRAVE so their grudge match looks to be on hold.
No. 12 - JAMEKA (3)
Winning at Caulfield means JAMEKA is peaking like a Chinese duck. The four-year-old was in cruise control two weeks ago and is aiming to become the first horse in 15 years to complete the Caulfield Cup/Melbourne Cup double. In this form, JAMEKA me want to throw some money on her and it's hard to resist having a flutter at these odds.
No. 13 - HEARTBREAK CITY (23)
I'll let you in on a secret, HEARTBREAK CITY's Irish trainer, Tony Martin occasionally bends the rules. While some trainers aim to win every race they contest, Martin gets his horses ready for the big day, and the big day only, having copped several "non-trier" bans over the years. If HEARTBREAK CITY makes a mockery of her handicap, you heard it here first.
No. 14 - SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD (14)
SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD has been talked up massively by trainer, John Thompson. We're told the eight-year-old recorded "brilliant times" during trackwork last Tuesday, absolutely loves the Flemington course and may just actually be PHAR LAP in disguise. Punters will want this fella knighted if he wins on Tuesday, which would be funny, as he’d then be known as Sir Sir John Hawkwood…
No. 15 - EXCESS KNOWLEDGE (21)
Gai Waterhouse trains this absolute battler – it’ll need more than a bit of luck to win. In fact, Gai may have to call on husband Robbie’s horse-swapping services, ala Fine Cotton in ’84. For those who don’t know, Robbie painted a fast horse to look like a slow one (named Fine Cotton) and then subbed it in to race on its behalf. The horse won at juicy odds. However, stewards caught wind and Robbie was banned from Australian racecourses for 14 years. #StingsGoneWrong.
No. 16 - BEAUTIFUL ROMANCE (1)
Imagine you were a half decent athlete who was the fastest runner out of your group of friends. Then imagine getting told you’ll be racing in the Olympic Games at a distance you’ve never raced at before. How would you rate your chances? Yes, ‘f**king no hope’ is the right answer. Same task for BEAUTIFUL ROMANCE here. Avoid.
No. 17 - ALMANDIN (17)
ALMANDIN last raced a month ago when he won "The Bart Cummings" at Flemington. No trainer has matched the 12 Cup winners that Cummings trained, so it's a great omen for the superstitious punter. Perhaps more importantly, his name sounds a bit like Aladdin – if this fella whips out the magic rug, look out!
No. 18 - ASSIGN (22)
You can rest assured this horse will start shorter than fair odds with every second female throwing a few bob on it with Kate Mallyone on board. Apparently, Kate’s race-day routine involves pumping some tunes on her personalised playlist and Drake is rumoured to feature heavily. Unfortunately, this horse isn’t ‘way too good’ for this field, in fact, it’s quite the opposite…
No. 19 - GREY LION (16)
The five-year-old will be ridden by Glen Boss. Yes, the same Glen Boss that won the Cup with MAKYBE DIVA way back in 2005. He'll be leaving his nursing home on Tuesday for the first time in years. Punters are counting on the Boss forgetting that he's actually riding GREY LION midway through the race and pulling out a performance from his golden days.
No. 20 - OCEANOGRAPHER (11)
If it were up to Mike Baird, OCEANOGRAPHER would be refused entry to this party. The five-year-old won the Lexus Stakes on Saturday, leaving his run so very late that he would have been locked out of any Sydney pub. Having come from second-last to book his passage to the Cup, it'd be rude to not back him home from barrier eleven.
No. 21 - SECRET NUMBER (10)
This fella strikes me as a real natural talent. After a 313-day layoff (apparently filled with boozy late nights out with numerous fillies) SECRET NUMBER came out and won the Doonside Cup. Apparently the horse celebrated with more partying and very little training. Ever heard the joke about the racehorse that doesn't race? Me neiggghhhther. Avoid.
No. 22 - PENTATHLON (4)
In a stunning development, it turns out the kiwis don't just breed sheep. Along with WHO SHOT THE BARMAN, the five-year-old will be representing the land of the long white cloud at Randwick. Given recent rugby results, PENTATHLON will be oozing confidence and is looking to extend New Zealand's dominance over all things Australian on Tuesday afternoon.
No. 23 - QEWY (15)
QEWY is one of those horses that really has only two speeds. Zero-kilometres per hour or flat-out. The seven-year-old won the Geelong Cup two weeks ago and was consistency personified from start to finish in an excellent staying performance. Yes, he’s more of a reliable Holden rather than a speedy Ferrari, but he’s not altogether out of this.
No. 24 - ROSE OF VIRGINIA (8)
ROSE OF VIRGINIA will be ridden by the lone apprentice in the Cup, Ben Thompson, rumoured to be finishing his high school VCE exams later this week. Apparently the trainers Lee and Shannon Hope asked several other more experienced jockeys to ride but copped the reply of “Ain’t nobody got time for dat” when the jockeys were told $251 shot ROSE OF VIRGINA was the horse they’d be riding.