The Caulfield Cup winner will be looking to become the first since Ethereal in 2001 to claim the Melbourne Cup / Caulfield Cup double.
Best Solution has been in superb form winning three successive Group 1 events including his first race on Australian turf when claiming the Caulfield Cup. Pat Cosgrave has ridden the 5YO at each of those starts and will once again be in the saddle for his first ever Melbourne Cup.
Jumping from gate 6 can see the entire find a position close to the speed as he takes on the 3200m for the first time in his career. Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor has been coming to Australia for many years trying to claim the Cup, placing on 4 occasions, with Best Solution looking the best hope he has prepared.
The 5YO Japanese raider has not been successful since January of 2018 when claiming a half-length victory under 54kg over 2400m. Starting in 4 races since that victory, his best result since the win was a 2nd in the G2 Nikkei Sho at 2500m in a strong field.
Carrying 58kg in one of Japan’s premier staying events of the G1 Tenno Sho Spring over 3200m, the entire was under two lengths from the winner when finishing 5th. The four-time career winner was well-beaten at his first Australian start in the Caulfield Cup, weakening to be 11 lengths from the winner.
Trained by top Japanese conditioner Yoshito Yahagi, Chestnut Coat will be ridden by Yuga Kawada, with both trainer and jockey first-time Cup hopefuls.
Scratched from the 2017 Melbourne Cup, the veteran performer is back for his 4th Melbourne Cup with his best result coming in the 2014 Cup when finishing 3rd to Protectionist.
The 10YO has been warming up to the two-miles in good style and ran home well last start in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup, a track that favours those closer to the speed. The gelding has a great record at 3200m, finishing in the top-three in 5 of 9 appearances with the record reading 9: 2-2-1, those wins coming in the Auckland Cup and New Zealand Cup.
Sure to be a fan favourite with thanks in part to his name, he will create history if able to win, with no winner being older than 8YO when claiming the Cup.
The British-bred gelding was sent to Australia by Godolphin to their head-trainer James Cummings. Since stepping out for Cummings for the first time in August, the 5YO gelding has been impressive at each start.
After three successive victories in Sydney, the gelding then claimed a ballot exemption for the Cup by taking out the Bart Cummings under 58.5kg. Given a shot in the Cox Plate at WFA, he was far from disgraced behind Winx who again was far too dominant at the 2000m. Avilius will jump from gate 11 as he gets beyond 2500m for the first time in his career.
One of three Godolphin owned runners in the race for three different trainers, Avilius will look to provide James Cummings with his first Melbourne Cup.
Aidan O’Brien went close to claiming the Cup for the first time in 2017 when Johannes Vermeer went within a half-length of victory.
Head rider for the Irish stables of O’Brien is Ryan Moore, with the Irishman not in the saddle for the first of the 5YO’s two Australian starts. Stepping out in Melbourne for the first time in the Caulfield Stakes, Mark Zahra was up when strong to the line in finishing 2.5 lengths from the winner Benbatl.
Second-up in the Caulfield Cup, he was again finding the line strongly to be within two lengths of the winner Best Solution when partnered by Hugh Bowman. Carrying the same weight as his Caulfield run, he too will be out to the 3200m for the first time.
Trained by one of England’s premier conditioners John Gosden, Muntahaa will tackle the Cup without a previous Australian appearance.
Gosden has had a tremendous season in England and Europe, with his Newmarket stables represent by some amazing talent including Cracksman, Enable and Stradivarius. Muntahaa finished 3rd in the 2000m Wolferton at Royal Ascot, the same race where Yucatan finished in 16th position. He then went to the G2 Princess Wales when 4th to Best Solution.
A winner of the Ebor handicap at his next start, England’, richest flat handicap, a race that has traditionally been a good guide to the Melbourne Cup, Muntahaa will be the only grey in the 2018 Cup with Jim Crowley warming up for Cup day with a double at Bendigo.
Trainer David Payne has always had a long-term target of the Melbourne Cup with his talented entire and he gets the 4YO into the field to attempt to re-write history.
Ace High has started twice at Flemington, one of those when securing victory in the 2017 VRC Derby over 2500m. Since that win, his best results have been a narrowest of 2nds to Levendi in the ATC Derby in the Autumn and a win in the G2 Hill Stakes at 2000m two starts back. Fading out in the Caulfield Cup after being ridden against his normal pattern, a better effort can be expected in the Cup.
The last horse to win the Melbourne Cup one year after claiming the VRC Derby was Phar Lap. Is that piece of history too big to change?
Owner Lloyd Williams will be looking to secure his third successive Melbourne Cup and seventh overall. Yucatan has the profile to claim the victory and has been the race favourite following his decisive victory in the G2 Herbert Power Stakes.
Yet to race beyond 2400m, Yucatan arrived in Australia a two-time winner and has followed a similar campaign to Williams 2017 Cup runner-up Johannes Vermeer, both claiming wins in the G3 International and then placings in the G3 Ballyroan at Leopardstown. Yucatan was a first-up winner in Australia and took a weight penalty for the win.
The last horse to complete the Herbert Power / Melbourne Cup double was Rogan josh back in 1999. Can Yucatan give Aidan O’Brien his first Cup success?
A winner of his past two starts, Magic Circle will be first-up in Australia for his tilt at Cup glory.
Carrying 58.5kg in the 2017 Ebor handicap at York, the gelding was 5.5 lengths from the winner Nakeeta. After one more start he was sent to the paddock and returned in the 3750m Chester Cup first-up. Ridden by Fran Berry, he blew them away in scoring a dominant six length victory and followed that with a six length victory in the 3264m G3 Henry II Stakes at Sandown.
Magic Circle will be ridden by 2017 Cup winning hoop Corey Brown. Dr Koukash, the owner of Magic Circle has said he will strip down to a G-String in the mounting yard should his prize gelding claim the Cup!
2000 Cup winning trainer Michael Moroney has been preparing Sound Check from the Werribee Equine centre, with the German import boasting a 3200m win on his profile.
Meeting Best Solution at equal weights in the Von Berlin over 1200m at his last European start before heading down under, the 6YO was able to finish 2nd when beaten a long neck. Stepping out in the Caulfield Cup at his first Australian start and getting 2kg from Best Solution, he struggled to work into the contest and was beaten a long way.
Flemington should suit the entire better and the 3200m should not be an issue, claiming a G2 contest in May over the two mile trip under 58kg. Jordan Childs maintains the ride.
Back for his 2nd crack at the Cup, Marmelo will go into the 2018 Cup without a lead-in run in Australia, with trainer Hughie Morrison opting for a slightly different attack than his 2017 assault.
After returning to England after last year’s Cup, Marmelo next raced in May when only beaten a long-neck first-up at Longchamp over 3000m. He then won his next two starts at 2800m in the Grand Cup at York and then back in France. A winner of the 2017 Prix Kergorlay in 2017, he was 2nd in the 2018 edition at his last run before heading down under.
Hugh Bowman will ride Marmelo again in the Cup after partnering the 6YO last year.
Richard Freedman will saddle his first Melbourne Cup runner in his own name after guiding the French-bred Auvray into the Cup field. The 8YO will be fourth-up this campaign after resuming in the Newcastle Cup.
A two-time winner over 3000m in France, this will be his third time over the two-mile trip after taking on the 2016 and 2018 Sydney Cups. Tommy Berry will ride Auvray and has ridden the gelding in the 2016 Sydney Cup.
Since joining Freedman’s stable the gelding has been able to re-capture some of his best form and while the Cup will be another step-up, freedman knows what it takes to prepare the Cup winner, having been there with brother Lee previously.
Chris Waller is preparing Finche from the Werribee equine centre and gave the chestnut a run in the Geelong Cup in preparation for the Melbourne Cup, finishing third under 59kg.
The 5YO son of Frankel has European form behind the talented Cracksman and was a last start winner at Deauville in France at his last start before heading to Australia. That win came in the G3 Prix De Reux when scoring a 1.75 length victory over the 2500m trip.
Zac Purton returns from Hong Kong to take the ride and was 3rd in the 2017 Cup when riding Max Dynamite. He should take great benefit from his Geelong run as he takes on 3200m for the first time.
Back for his second tilt at Cup glory, Ventura Storm was beaten 30 lengths in the 2017 edition when fading out to finish 21st of the 23 runners.
Since the Cup of 2017, the 6YO has started 11 times, placing twice and winning his last start to break a winless streak that extended back to October 2016. After a 4th in the Turnbull Stakes when within two lengths of Winx, he was too far back in the Caulfield Cup. Ridden much closer last start in the Moonee Valley Cup paid dividends.
One of seven last start winners in the field, the Hayes/Dabernig trained gelding will be looking to emulate the Cup race record holder Kingston Rule, the only ever winner of the Moonee Valley Cup / Melbourne Cup double.
5YO NZ gelding will take on the two mile trip for the 3rd time in his career and has been building towards the distance throughout this preparation.
A winner of the G2 Chairman’s Handicap under 56kg in the Autumn, he then went to the 3200m Sydney Cup with just 50kg when finishing 3rd to Who Shot Thebarman, beaten one length. After two starts to kick-off his Spring in New Zealand, he hit the line strongly in the G3 Naturalism Stakes. 3rd at his latest start in the 2400m Bendigo Cup under 57kg, the rise to the Cup distance looks ideal.
Dwayne Dunn has ridden the 5YO at each start this prep and will again take the ride as the veteran hoop looks to land an elusive Melbourne Cup.
With just 51.5kg, Youngstar will be ridden by Craig Williams for the first time, with the veteran hoop still searching for a first Melbourne Cup win. A win would complete the big 4 of Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup, Melbourne Cup and Golden Slipper for Williams.
Trained by Chris Waller, the champion trainer is also searching for his first Cup triumph and will have a two-prong attack in 2018, with Finche his other runner. Youngstar returned for her Spring with a 6th in the G2 Tramway and followed that with placings at 1500m and then 2nd at 2000m in the G1 Turnbull Stakes behind Winx.
Wearing the same saddlecloth as the 2017 winner, Youngstar will look to emulate Ethereal as a winner of the Queensland Oaks and the Melbourne Cup in the same year.
Red Cardinal is back for his 2nd tilt at the Cup and is prepared by Darren Weir for the 2018 assault after German Andreas Wohler entered the gelding in the 2017 renewal.
The Irish-bred gelding was 5th in the 2017 Prix Kergorlay behind Marmelo before taking on the Cup without an Australian appearance. Transferring to Weir after finishing 11th behind Rekindling, he was not seen again until August. The 7YO has started five times for Weir this prep, with his best result a 3rd in the St Leger at Randwick when beaten four lengths.
A two-time winner at 3200m from three starts, Damien Oliver will take the ride as he looks to secure his 4th Melbourne Cup victory, Oliver’s last win coming in 2013 aboard Fiorente.
Arriving in Australia looking to secure a Cup start, the 6YO gelding had to go around in the Hotham Handicap on Saturday with victory required to force his way into the Cup.
Trained by Charlie Fellowes, the gelding took on the Herbert Power first-up and after settling near the rear was charging home to finish 3rd behind Yucatan, beaten 1.65 lengths. Ridden closer to the speed on Saturday under 57.5kg, he let down into the bridle in the closing stages to score victory by a half-length and stamp his ticket to the big dance.
Michael Walker has ridden the 6YO at both Australian starts and will be in the saddle once again. A previous winner at two miles at G3 level at Ascot, the distance should be no issue.
Owned by Sir Patrick Hogan, one of the Southern Hemispheres most influential breeders, Zacada will be having his third career run over 3200m at his second look at Flemington.
Given no favours when drawing the outside barrier, the gelding has started four times this campaign and been no closer than seven lengths to the winner in any of those. 11th to Sir Charles Road when resuming in his homeland, his three Melbourne starts have been well below his best.
If able to repeat the form that saw the son of Zabeel finish a nose 2nd to Who Shot Thebarman in the Sydney Cup back in the Autumn, he may be entertained as a rough hope.
The third of the Godolphin owned runners in the Cup, Cross Counter is prepared by Charlie Appleby and will attack the Cup without an Australian run.
Cross Counter has missed a top-two finish just once in his seven start career, that ‘miss’ coming in the 2400m King George V at Royal Ascot when carrying 60kg and finishing 2.5 lengths from the winner Baghdad. A winner at Glorious Goodwood in the 2400m Gordon Stakes at G3 level, he then went to York when finishing a head 2nd to Old Persian in the G2 Voltigeur Stakes.
Appleby has a great record in Australia and has had great success with Kerrin McEvoy who will take the ride in the Cup.
After attempting to force his way into the 2017 Cup with a last-ditch effort in the Hotham Handicap on the Saturday before the Cup, trainer Michael Moroney fell agonisingly short when beaten a head by Cismontane.
After winning the Geelong Cup, the gelding couldn’t jump the order of entry which resulted in the need to run in the Hotham. He then won another race at 2600m on Stakes Day. Returning for his 2018 Spring campaign, he has found himself against his preferred pattern of getting on the speed.
The Cup will be the first time he has raced over 3200m, however he does have a strong record at Flemington, winning once and finishing runner-up twice from six attempts. From gate 2 he should be able to settle close to the speed.
Another back for a second shot at the Cup is the Scottish trained Nakeeta who was 5th in 2017. Winless since the start-prior to the 2017 Cup, the gelding was given a run in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup to prepare.
A winner of the 2017 Ebor Handicap at York leading in to the Melbourne Cup, he carried 53kg in 2017, the same weight he has been allotted again in 2018. Starting from a wide gate when looking to defend his Ebor crown, the 8YO finished 7.25 lengths from the winner Muntahaa. Carrying 61.5kg in a lower grade 2900m event at Doncaster at his last English start, he was beaten 5.3 lengths.
Regan Bayliss will take the ride for the first time, with Nakeeta taking on the 3200m for the third time in his career.
A noted front-runner, Runaway will be looking to repeat the performance that saw him gain a weight penalty, climb the order of entry and thus force his way into the Melbourne Cup.
That came in the Geelong Cup where jockey Stephen Baster went to the front and kept the field running all the way and was able to dictate to score a three-quarter length victory. A four-time career winner, his only run at two miles came at his last start as a 3YO when fading out. Prior to that he had secured a St Leger victory over 2800m
Trained by Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, he will carry just 52kg and from gate 12 should be able to get forward and rolling along in front might just be able to give plenty of cheek.
The Irish raider drops to 51kg after taking on the Cox Plate at WFA last start when having his first Australian start. The four-time winner should be suited by the more spacious Flemington track.
The third of the Aidan O’Brien trained runners in the Cup field, the entire was a winner of the G3 Club Stakes at Leopardstown at his last start before departing Europe. Rostropovich has had an extended campaign, racing every month except for August after resuming in April at Longchamp in the G3 Fontainebleau.
A winner second-up in the Dee Stakes at Chester, he was a half-length 2nd to Latrobe in the Irish Derby at The Curragh in June. Wayne Lordan who rode a Cup Day winner back in 2014 will take the ride at 51kg.