Kembla Grange punters so very nearly had a sentimental favourite.
A frustrating spring campaign for Gwenda Markwell's Australian Derby winner Angel Of Truth came to a premature end after pulled up sore from the Bendigo Cup, when a place in Tuesday's Melbourne Cup beckoned.
And while the outrage over the mistreatment and slaughter of retired racehorses, exposed by an ABC investigation, is real and has cast a shadow over the industry, this is still the biggest month in Kembla Grange history.
Melbourne Cup day is usually their biggest crowd-puller, but the introduction of the new $1 million The Gong race on November 23, is expected to set new attendance records, perhaps even double it.
There's also 40 meetings on nationally, a reflection of the place the Melbourne Cup has in Australian culture, even during the demand for significant welfare reform.
So who to back in the big race? It's always a dilemma for the once a year punter.
The Mercury attempts to break them down in a wide-open race.
THE EARLY FAVOURITE
Of the imports, Japanese star and early favourite Mer De Glace was mighty impressive winning the Caulfield Cup. He's won six races in a row, but never beyond 2400m, so the 3200m trip is a query, as is how he handles the likely Soft track, following rain at Saturday's Derby Day meeting at Flemington.
Jockey Damian Lane is hoping to add the Cup to his Golden Slipper, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate wins, but is likely to settle back in the field from barrier two and need some luck.
Chris Waller has won The Everest and The Golden Eagle this year, but never the Melbourne Cup and has had his hands on Finche for the past 12 months, who was fourth in last year's great race. Drawn well to find a nice place forward in the field, Finche should be in the finish after a huge run while wide the entire trip in the Caulfield Cup.
Vow And Declare, trained by Danny O'Brien, was a grinding second to Mer De Glace, but copped an awful barrier and might have to tack on at the end of the field.
Constantinople is firmly in the Cup frame after a superb Caulfield Cup fourth despite being held up in a muddled race.
If there's a knock, it's his immaturity and winning strike rate with two wins and five places from nine starts, especially under the huge pressure which will come in the Flemington straight.
THE O'BRIEN FACTOR
The great Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien has three runners in the Cup, while son Joseph, who won the race of the first time with Rekindling, has four. Away from their runners in the Lloyd Williams blue and white army, Il Paradiso is the lightly-raced, lightly-weighted chance, while Mercury racing analyst Craig Mordey was impressed by the Cox Plate run of Magic Wand.
Decorated jockey Frankie Dettori has never won the Cup in 16 attempts, having finished second twice.
This year he leads the charge for Joseph O'Brien and Williams, who is chasing a seventh Cup, on Master Of Reality. However, Latrobe is perhaps Williams best, even from a wide gate.
Find the lure of a $101 shot irresistible? Then the Mike Moroney-trained Sound is your horse. Has little form since running 18th in last year's Cup, but took the field on early in the Caulfield Cup and might just run a big race.
Cross Counter is back.
But this time with 57.5kgs, the penalty for last year's dashing Cup win with 51kgs.
It's a big ask and jockey Kerrin McEvoy is riding Finche this time around.
Does Southern France or Mustajeer have the quality, without a real turn of foot?
Prince Of Arran is all heart. Mirage Dancer matched motors with Vow And Declare and Finche at Caulfield.
Raymond Tusk goes from 61kg - when finishing a dynamic fourth behind Mustajeer in the Ebor at York to 54kg on Tuesday - and might just be the one to emerge from the midfield ruck and win.
Mercury racing analyst
1 MER DE GLACE, 2 Finche, 3 Magic Wand, 4 Constantinople
Mercury sports editor
1 RAYMOND TUSK, 2 Finche, 3 Vow And Declare, 4 Mustajeer
Mercury sports writer
1 FINCHE, 2 Raymond Tusk, 3 Vow and Declare, 4 Prince of Arran
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