1. Snow Sky ($51)
Weight: 58kg
Jockey/Trainer: Moore/Stoute
Barrier: 16
He was rocks-solid on his Australian debut running an honest fifth in the Caulfield Cup. Had every possible chance to win the race though. Perhaps looking for more ground? So the two miles should suit. Four starts ago he beat Brown Panther over 2816m at York with Havana Beat back in third. After that he took the scalp of Eagle Top in the G2 Hardwicke Stakes, leading from start to finish. Forget his more resent King George failure as he hates wet tracks. All in all, needs to lift on his Caulfield Cup effort to be in the money here.

Snow Sky’s fifth in the Caulfield Cup:

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Weight: 57.5kg
Barrier: 4
Jockey/Trainer: Walker/Hayes & Dabernig
Has become one of Australia’s best WFA horses over the past few seasons. Has been globetrotting recently and he wasn’t disgraced against some of the world’s most elite gallopers. Returned top Australia with a terrific win in the Caulfield Stakes first-up before running a gallant second to Winx in the Cox Plate. He didn’t have the clearest of runs either so was entitled to finish a touch closer to the runaway winner. Yet to be tried over two miles but did win an ATC Derby on a heavy track, suggesting he has good staying capacity. Still, such a big query.

Criterion’s second to Winx:

3. Fame Game ($4)
Weight: 57kg
Jockey/Trainer: Purton/Manukata
Barrier: 12
Connections controversially looked to have used the Caulfield Cup as nothing more than a barrier trial. When Zac Purton found a bit of room and gave him a little click there was a lot to like about the way he charged through the field.  This Japanese-based six-year-old ran an outstanding second in the G1 Tenno Sho the start prior, behind the world class stayer Gold Ship. He is a genuine two-miler and has the ominous second-up record of 5:2-0-1. Nothing will be left in the tank this time. Deserved favourite but the price looks a tad skinny.

Fame Game’s second in the Tenno:

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4. Our Ivanhowe ($26)
Weight: 56kg
Jockey/Trainer: Melham/Freedman
Barrier: 22
There’s a sense of timing about this Freedman-trained import. Already a two-time Group One winner in Germany, this six-year-old showed a glimpse of what he is capable of in the Bart Cummings with 60kg on his back before continue his upward trend with a Caulfield Cup third. Can he improve enough though? Right stable at least.

Our Ivanhowe’s German Derby romp:

5. Big Orange ($51)
Weight: 55.5kg
Jockey/Trainer: Spencer/Bell
Barrier: 23
Races on speed and loves firm tracks. What really puts him in the mix is his win over Trip To Paris in the Goodwood Cup two starts ago. It was a three-way finish with Quest For More running second. Trip To Paris meets him 2kg better for that defeat so some query there. Forget his Lonsdale Cup failure as he didn’t go a yard in the wet. Despite the weight turnaround, if you give Trip To Paris a leading hope, don’t leave Big Orange out of your numbers. He’s a big horse with a long stride so Flemington should suit.

6. Hartnell ($31)
Weight: 55.5kg
Jockey/Trainer: McDonald/O’Shea
Barrier: 17
Hit the ground running in Australia over the autumn, highlighted by his BMW win over highly-rated Japanese import To The World. Failed in the Sydney Cup as $1.65F but he led and overraced so it was little guide to his two mile credentials. Did win a 3219m event earlier in his career overseas. Returned in the spring with a couple of sensational trials suggesting a big carnival was in store. However, failed to impress in the Chelmsford or Turnbull. Hit the line nicely in the Cox Plate to suggest he was somewhat back on track. Suspect he’ll be ridden very quiet to get him to relax.

Hartnell’s victory in the 2015 BMW:

7. Hokko Brave ($26)
Weight: 55.5kg
Jockey/Trainer: Williams/Matsunaga
Barrier: 20
Arrived in Australia not as well credentialed as Fame Game – he ran sixth in the Tenno Sho – and didn’t change that notion with his Caulfield Cup run finishing one length behind his fellow countryman. Hokko was flattered by the margin though as when Fame Game was starting to get warm, Hokko was starting to feel the pinch. Can only improve on his Caulfield Cup run. However, he is an eight-year-old so perhaps he has been targeted at the Cup a year or two too late.

Hokko Brave’s third in the G2 Nikkei Sho three starts ago:

8. Max Dynamite ($14)
Weight: 55kg
Jockey/Trainer: Dettori/Mullins
Barrier: 2
Interesting that seven of his past nine runs have been over hurdles. In those two that weren’t he ran second to Quest For More in the Northumberland (that form ties in with Trip To Paris) and blitzed his rivals in the Lonsdale Cup by 4.5L. Liked the turn of foot he displayed in that most recent win. Has to be respected.

Max Dynamite’s recent piece of work at Flemington:

9. Red Cadeuax ($31)
Weight: 55kg
Jockey/Trainer: Mosse/Dunlop
Barrier: 8
Tackles his fifth Melbourne Cup! Yes fifth! There’d be no more popular winner of the Cup if this now 10-year-old got his dues with three runner-up medals already to his name. We’ve learnt by now to largely disregard his lead-up form as the ‘Big Red’ thrives in Australia. He’s not getting any younger but there’s no doubt that he’ll be thereabouts. Looks particularly well weighted this year.

Red Cadeuax’s first Melbourne Cup run:

10. Trip To Paris ($8.50)
Weight: 55kg
Jockey/Trainer: Berry/Dunlop
Barrier: 14
Didn’t expect him to be as sharp as he was in the Caulfield Cup, running a terrific second to Mongolian Khan. His closing sectionals were as good as anything in the race including Fame Game. Won the G1 Ascot Gold Cup over 4023m a few starts back beating Kingfisher so there is zero question that he’ll be strong at the end of the Melbourne Cup. On the strength of his Caulfield Cup, has to be a leading player. What is also to like about this five-year-old is he is in career-best form winning four of his past eight and placing in a further three. Ed Dunlop of course knows plenty about preparing a Cup winner, having tuned up Red Cadeuax in the past.

Click here to see Trip To Paris outstaying his rivals in the Ascot Gold Cup.

11. Who Shot Thebarman ($21)
Weight: 54.5kg
Jockey/Trainer: Shinn/Waller
Barrier: 6
The form card reads 7th,5th,8th and 7th but don’t you worry, this seven-year-old is right on track for his Cup grand final. Ran third last year and looks to be going every bit as well this time around. Guess the query is how much stronger this year’s Cup is. He is a genuine two-miler so will beat home more than beat him.

Who Shot Thebarman’s third in last year’s Cup:

12. Sky Hunter ($51)
Weight: 54kg
Jockey/Trainer: Buick/Suroor
Barrier: 7
Classy galloper that began his career in France before Godolphin came knocking. His form suggests he excels on wet ground (as evidenced by his (9L demolition of his rivals in the St Simon) but is capable of running well on all surfaces. As a form reference we can relate to, he was sixth behind Mount Athos finishing 5L back. His most recent victory was in the City of Gold at Dubai.

Sky Hunter’s City Of Gold victory:

13. The Offer ($41)
Weight: 54kg
Jockey/Trainer: Oliver/Waterhouse
Barrier: 13
Was the early favourite for last year’s Cup after he won the 2014 Sydney Cup but injury curtailed his campaign. Hasn’t had the most conventional preparation for a Cup (in fact it’s damn bizzare kicking off at the Gold Coast going via various country cups) but it is the wizard Gai Waterhouse we are talking about here. Was largely forgotten about prior to last start where he threw his hat back into the ring with a strong Bendigo Cup win with 59kg. Ollie and Waterhouse combined for Fiortente. Would need rain to be competitive at this level though.

The Offer’s 2014 Sydney Cup win:

14. Grand Marshall ($31)
Weight: 54kg
Jockey/Trainer: Cassidy/Waller
Barrier: 15
Not dissimilar to Who Shot Thebarman, in that he is sticking over perfectly for his grand final the Melbourne Cup. Was the unlucky runner in the Caulfield Cup and should have finished much closer. There’s no doubt that he’ll stay as he already has a Sydney Cup to his name, where he only warmed up the last 400m. Does he have the class to win a Cup though?

Grand Marshal’s 2015 Sydney Cup win:

15. Preferment ($9)
Weight: 53.5kg
Jockey/Trainer: Bowman/Waller
Barrier: 11
Was so tough beating subsequent Metrop winner Magic Hurricane in the Hill Stakes before winning the G1 Turnbull at WFA. The form book reads 9th for the Cox Plate but he was completely unsuited and The Wolf thought he did more than enough. That Turnbull win made it two from two at Flemington (after the VIC Derby). The weight-for-age path has been carefully picked by Chris Waller and he has masterfully beaten the handicapper. Barrier 11 perfect. Top pick!

Preferment’s Turnbull win:

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16. Quest For More ($101)
Weight: 53.5kg
Jockey/Trainer: Lane/Charlton
Barrier: 21
Failed horribly in the Geelong Cup but was done little favours by the wide gate and had to lump 59kg. Still, he’d want to sharpen up his act quick smart off that. His form prior is around Big Orange and Trip To Paris so perhaps be forgiving in including a victory in the Northumberland. Can stay all day so don’t be concerned about the extra trip. Task not made easier from the gate.

Quest For More saluting in the Northumberland:

17. Almoonqith ($16)
Weight: 53kg
Jockey/Trainer: Dunn/Hayes & Dabernig
Barrier: 10
David Hayes was tipping up this stayer all spring but only after his dominant Geelong Cup win have people started to take notice. His start prior to that was very good too when set an impossible task in the Metrop. Outside of the winner Magic Hurricane, his run was perhaps next best. The Geelong Cup has provided Media Puzzle, Dandino and Americain recently so don’t discount that form line. He beat Dandino in this year’s Geelong Cup who had been running very well in WFA features prior. Big player for an red-hot stable.

Almoonqith’s latest piece of work at Flemington:

18. Kingfisher ($26)
Weight: 53kg
Jockey/Trainer: O’Donoghue/O’Brien
Barrier: 9
Aiden O’Brien has always had a good opinion of this son of Galileo. His early form through the likes of Australia and Free Eagle is world class. He has an easy victory over It’s Somewhat too, a horse that has proven competitive in Sydney with John O’Shea since. Ran second to Trip To Paris in the Ascot Gold Cup only three starts ago so has had the grounding for this. Could he be the horse that gives O’Brien his allusive Cup? The Wolf says no.

Kingfisher’s second to star stablemate and now stallion Australia:

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19. Prince Of Penzance ($81)
Weight: 53kg
Jockey/Trainer: Payne/Weir
Barrier: 1
Incredibly, jockey Michelle Payne has ridden Prince in 22 of his 23 starts. Despite his improved second in the MV Cup when Payne really ran them along, he was a little flattered by the way the track played and it’s unlikely he’s doing anything other than making up the Cup numbers. His only previous Group One run was in the Memsie first-up.

Prince Of Penzance’s first-up Mesmie run:

20. Bondi Beach ($26)
Weight: 52.5kg
Jockey/Trainer: Prebble/O’Brien
Barrier: 18
So sparingly-raced is this four-year-old (just five starts to his name) that he’d become the second most-lightly raced horse to ever win the Cup, behind only Martini-Henri in 1883. He was involved in one of the more bizarre racing events recently, whereby he won the St Leger on protest only to have it overturned some months later. Has never finished worse than second. Has the quality but such a task for such an experienced horse.

Bondi Beach’s controversial St Leger:

21. Sertorius ($201)
Weight: 52.5kg
Jockey/Trainer: Newitt/Edwards
Barrier: 5
Has snuck into the field on the back of a couple of late withdrawals in Mongolian Khan and Beaten Up. On his recent, form this looks a bridge too far. Way too far. At his best he an fourth in a BMW behind Silent Achiever.

Sertorius’ fourth in the 2014 BMW:

22. The United States ($21)
Weight: 52.5kg
Jockey/Trainer: Moriera/Hickmott
Barrier: 3
Looked as though he was going to be squeezed out of the field by the Lexus winner but Lloyd Williams threw a massive late spanner into the works by withdrawing well-fancied stablemate Amralah due to vet’s treatment. He was reportedly fuming! The United States was a strong winner of the MV Cup at his last outing, aided by a Hugh Bowman gem and the track’s fast lane on the fence. He broke the track record in the process. He might be six years old but suspect we still haven’t seen the very best he has to offer just yet. Not without a fluker’s hope from a powerful spring stable.

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23. Excess Knowledge ($21)
Weight: 51kg
Jockey/Trainer: McEvoy/Waterhouse
Barrier: 24
Snuck into the field by the Lexus back door surviving a protest from Zanteca. Had been knocking on the door all preparation but really appreciated the swap over to Flemington. Gives the impression that 3200m won’t be a problem and on the quick back-up, with five runs under the belt, he won’t be beaten on the score of fitness. Top ten finish likely.

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24. Gust Of Wind ($31)
Weight: 51kg
Jockey/Trainer: Chad Schofield/Sargent
Barrier: 19
Had been building nicely into her Caulfield Cup start where she stayed on bravely. Chad was a victim of circumstances being held up for longer than he’d have liked as she is a genuine stayer that needs time to go through the gears. The best part about her run there was how she surged again very late to close off the second wave of horses behind here and hold fourth. This is harder again but afforded more room this time and out to two miles expect another honest effort. She did take the scalp of Winx in the Oaks remember.

Gust Of Wind’s Oaks win over Winx:

The Wolf’s Top 5
1. Preferment
2. Fame Game
3. Almoonqith
4. Red Cadeaux
5. Trip To Paris

Odds as of Saturday 31 October at 7:30pm.

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