‘We’ve got the best horse in the race’
CHAMPION trainer Chris Waller is firming to win his first Melbourne Cup as Finche assumed favouritism ahead of Australia's most famous race.
Japan's Mer De Glace had been at the top of markets since drawing gate two in Saturday's barrier draw but by late Monday he was displaced as favourite by Finche who was backed from $9.50 into $8.
Here's the final word on all 24 runners.
1. CROSS COUNTER (Barrier: 5) Weight: 57.5kg - Jockey: James Doyle Trainer: Charlie Appleby Odds: $14 (Win), $4.20 (Place)
"It's a hard race to win but we think we've got the best horse in the race, so we'll take our chance. He's a bigger, stronger horse than last year." - trainer Charlie Appleby's foreman, Chris Connett.
2. MER DE GLACE (2) 56kg - J: Damian Lane T: Hisashi Shimizu Odds: $8.50, $2.80
"I'm really confident in the horse I'm riding. We've drawn well. It would be nice if the rain slowed down. He hasn't performed on a soft track before but we can't control that. The 3200m is a big question mark. But I think he will run it out." - jockey Damian Lane.
3. MASTER OF REALITY (1) 55.5kg - J: Frankie Dettori T: Joseph O'Brien Odds: $26, $7
"He's (jockey Frankie Dettori) of the firm view that the form Master Of Reality showed that day, and obviously his lead-ups to Ascot, he said that's the best staying form in the world." - part-owner Nick Williams.
4. MIRAGE DANCER (13) 55.5kg - J: Ben Melham T: Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young Odds: $31, $8.50
"The way he ran through the line in the Caulfield Cup after getting that squeeze at the top of the straight I think he's going to be better for it. He's had that experience racing here now and in a big field." - co-trainer Natalie Young.
5. SOUTHERN FRANCE (14) 55.5kg - J: Mark Zahra T: Ciaron Maher and David Eustace Odds: $23, $6.50
"He's got the right form lines. The intensity of the work has increased and he's in very good order." - co-trainer Ciaron Maher.
6. HUNTING HORN (11) 55kg - J: Seamie Heffernan T: Aidan O'Brien Odds: $41, $11
"He looks a million dollars. Hunting Horn is one of those horses that has thrived here and he's definitely taken his race well." - trainer Aidan O'Brien's travelling foreman TJ Comerford.
7. LATROBE (22) 55kg - J: James McDonald T: Joseph O'Brien Odds: $23, $6.50
"He has had the perfect preparation. He hasn't missed a day. Everything we've wanted to do with him he's done and he's done well. And without question, he's probably the classiest runner in the field. If there's any question about him it's the two miles." - part-owner Nick Williams
8. MUSTAJEER (6) 55kg - J: Damien Oliver T: Kris Lees Odds: $18, $5
"The positives are he is in good order and although he's not proven at two miles, he is proven at 2800m and he can handle all types of tracks." - trainer Kris Lees.
9. ROSTROPOVICH (12) 55kg - J: Dwayne Dunn T: David Hayes, Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig Odds: $81, $17
"He missed the start, made a mid-race move and did a lot of work up the hill at Caulfield and when they do that they find it very hard to win. We're hoping for a big improvement." - co-Trainer Ben Hayes.
10. TWILIGHT PAYMENT (19) 55kg - J: Hugh Bowman Trainer: Joseph O'Brien Odds: $41, $11
"I think he's a horse who likes to gallop on forward … there is plenty of time to get across, we won't rush him. I'll just have him where he's comfortable." - jockey Hugh Bowman.
11. FINCHE (4) 54kg - J: Kerrin McEvoy T: Chris Waller Odds: $8.50, $2.80
"He's got a nice barrier and hopefully I can give him every chance to run well. He has shown me in his trackwork that he has come out of the Caulfield Cup well and he's nice and bright." - jockey Kerrin McEvoy
12. PRINCE OF ARRAN (8) 54kg - J: Michael Walker T: Charlie Fellowes Odds: $18, $5
"They tell me it was a very quick time for the Geelong Cup and it's a pretty good indication for the big one I think." - trainer Charlie Fellowes.
13. RAYMOND TUSK (3) 54kg - J: Jamie Spencer T: Richard Hannon Odds: $21, $6
"I don't think he's got a negative - we know we stay, we know we'll appreciate the ground, we know the jockey gets on with him, we've got a good draw, got a good weight." - syndicate manager Tom Palin.
14. DOWNDRAFT (15) 53.5kg J: John Allen T: Joseph O'Brien Odds: $20, $5.50
"All the reports are is that he has pulled out of the race (Hotham Stakes) in good order and hopefully he can reproduce what he did on Saturday." - jockey John Allen.
15. MAGIC WAND (24) 53.5kg - J: Ryan Moore T: Aidan O'Brien Odds: $20, $5.50
"She's a very high-class filly but she's running the distance for the first time and I wish it wasn't raining really." - jockey Ryan Moore.
16. NEUFBOSC (23) 53.5kg - J: Luke Nolen T: David Hayes, Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig Odds: $126, $21
"He needs everything to go right. He's drawn a hard gate and we'll just have to see how it plays out." - co-trainer Ben Hayes.
17. SOUND (10) 53.5kg - J: James Winks T: Michael Moroney Odds: $91, $17
"He seems to be going well. He ran well in the Caulfield Cup and probably copped the worst of the interference." - trainer Mike Moroney.
18. SURPRISE BABY (20) 53.5kg - J: Jordan Childs T: Paul Preusker Odds: $14, $4.20
"I think this year (barriers) mightn't be as crucial as other years. They might run it along hopefully, so 20 might not end up being like 20." -trainer Paul Preusker.
19. CONSTANTINOPLE (7) 52.5kg - J: Joao Moreira T: David Hayes, Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig Odds: $9.50, $3
"He's got the right jockey and I think we've got the right conditions. Hopefully that converts to a good run." - co-trainer Ben Hayes.
20. IL PARADISO (17) 52.5kg - J: Wayne Lordan T: Aidan O'Brien Odds: $14, $4.20
"We're coming down here as a lightweight. It's a big ask but hopefully we'll get a bit of luck on the day." - part-owner Tom Magnier.
21. STEEL PRINCE (16) 52.5kg - J: Brett Prebble T: Anthony Freedman Odds: $71, $15
"He's taken no problem from his mishap at Caulfield and he's had the fitness run at Geelong." - jockey Brett Prebble.
22. THE CHOSEN ONE (18) 52kg - J: Tim Clark T: Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman Odds: $61, $15
"There's not much we can do about the draw but it would have been nice to get a little closer to the fence as we haven't had a lot of luck like that of late." - co-trainer Andrew Forsman.
23. VOW AND DECLARE (21) 52kg - J: Craig Williams T: Danny O'Brien Odds: $12, $3.60
"I think he'll certainly be much better suited at Flemington on the bigger track and the extra distance is right up his alley as well. This is the race we thought he could win and he's going to get there in great shape." - trainer Danny O'Brien.
24. YOUNGSTAR (9) 52kg - J: Tommy Berry T: Chris Waller Odds: $31, $8.50
"This time last year Youngstar was the horse on everybody's lips and unfortunately her form is not quite as good as it was going into the race this time last year." - trainer Chris Waller.