Incentivise was one of the stars of the Brisbane winter, winning six on the bounce and he has continued on his winning ways since joining the Peter Moody stable for a tilt at the elusive Cups double.
Incentivise's journey started from humble beginnings, finishing down the track in a pair of basic maidens before going onto win the Group Three Tattersall's Cup by 12 lengths; the widest winning margin in a Group race in Australia since Shogun all the way back in 1980.
Under Moody, Incentivise has extended his unbeaten run to nine capturing three Group 1 races in succession – Makybe Diva Stakes, Turnbull Stakes and the Caulfield Cup – the stuff Melbourne Cup dreams are made of!
Incentivise comes into the Melbourne Cup with a Timeform rating of 129 but on the negative side, he has been re-handicapped to carry 57kgs.
History shows that since 2000, four horses have gone into a Melbourne Cup with a Timeform rating of 129 or higher – just one, So You Think Timeform rated 133 in 2010 has managed a place.
So You Think finished a game third in a strong Cup renewal behind Americain on a deteriorating track.
However, a Timeform ratings profile review of the field in this afternoon's Cup reveals a low rating Cup in prospect with just Incentivise the only runner rated higher than 125.
This opens the door for Incentivise to win the Cup, but his task will not be easy and certainly at the current odds on offer does not represent value for punters.
He is shaping to start the shortest price favourite since the great Phar Lap to become the 12th horse to complete the Cups double - the last to do so was Ethereal in 2001.
Decisive Herbert Power Stakes winner Delphi looms as a major threat if you can put his failure in the Caulfield Cup aside.
A former import, Delphi has excellent form in Ireland prior to coming down under. The one run that stands out was his 116 Timeform rated victory in the Irish St Leger trial Stakes over 2816m where he defeated Master Of Reality, a horse that has raced well in the Melbourne Cup previously.
Delphi had one run in Brisbane during the Winter and then spelled, resuming in the Heatherlie Stakes with a close up fourth.
After a second in the Foundation Cup, Delphi then scored easily in the Herbert Power running to a new peak Timeform rating of 118, enticing the stable to back up a week later in the Caulfield Cup where according to race rider Damien Oliver the entire raced flat.
If the Freedman camp have been able to freshen him up, Delphi brings the right profile to run a big race.
Champion trainer Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott will be represented by former Aidan O'Brien trained Sir Lucan who is the unknown quantity in the race.
The son of Camelot has been lightly raced winning two of his eight starts to date and comes off an unplaced effort in the G1 St Leger Stakes over 2922m at Doncaster on rain affected ground.
At his start prior, Sir Lucan ran to a Timeform rating of 113 when fourth to Yibir in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes over 2385m, flashing home late from well back.
That form has proved useful for the Melbourne Cup previously through the efforts of Mahler and Cross Counter.
As a winner over 2615m in Ireland where he defeated subsequent French Group 1 placed Wordsworth he should find 3200m in Australia well within his grasp.
Exciting staying mare Tralee Rose made significant strides last campaign culminating in a below par effort in the Adelaide Cup finishing fourth as odds on favourite, when clearly at the end of a long seven run campaign.
Her form prior was outstanding winning the Lord Reims by more than three lengths and the Bagot Handicap by seven lengths.
Tralee Rose has been sparingly raced with six wins from 15 starts, three of which have come at distances 2400m and beyond.
Her form this preparation has been sound scoring a solid win in the Geelong Cup over 2400m last run, a race that has proven to be a good Melbourne Cup guide in the past.
At her run prior she chased home Grand Promenade in the Bart Cummings over 2500m at Flemington so she has the necessary grounding to run a strong 3200m this afternoon.
Tralee Rose took a new peak Timeform rating from the Geelong Cup win and is fifth run back from a spell today – both positive signs for today.
One of two overseas trained imports is Spanish Mission who has been under a injury cloud this week.
2020 was highlighted for Spanish Mission by a pair of strong wins over eventual Sydney Cup winner Selino and he has been even better in 2021, winning the Yorkshire Cup before placings in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and back at York in the Lonsdale Cup last time.
The last mentioned was over two miles and saw Spanish Mission only edged out in a stirring battle with legendary stayer Stradivarius who has since won again in the Doncaster Cup at the Ledger meeting.
It's world-class form over the two miles and his ratings profile is solid, indicating he is at the peak of his powers, running between 119 and 121 in his last three.
If he turns up in that form, Spanish Mission is certain to run well.
The Maher-Eustace trained Grand Promenade, Floating Artist and Persan remain excellent chances.
Persan who showed vast improvement last spring that ended with an eye-catching fifth in the Melbourne Cup has returned to racing with a strong third to Floating Artist over 1700m at Flemington running to a Timeform rating of 114 – a pound below his master rating.
After an unplaced effort in an unsuitable Turnbull Stakes, Persan then ran gamely for a sound third in the Caulfield Cup behind Incentivise.
Persan does meet Incentivise better at the weights but it is hard to see him turning the tables.
Stablemates Floating Artist and Grand Promenade also have prospects on weight adjusted Timeform ratings.
Grand Promenade easily accounted for a handy line up in the Bart Cummings over 2500m and should improve again while Floating Artist had no luck in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup and is racing in top form.
Saturday's Hotham Handicap winner Great House sneaks into the race and drops a massive 7.5 kilos down to 50kgs in today's feature.
Great House has been work in progress since joining the Chris Waller stable and put it all together in the Hotham running down the leader in the straight for a solid performance running to a new peak Timeform rating of 113.
That figure was on the low side for previous winners of the race, however Hotham winners normally run well in the Cup.
Enjoy the Cup.