SYDNEY • Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed will make his 18th attempt at an elusive Melbourne Cup win today as some of the world's biggest trainers descend for Australia's most prestigious race.
The 154-year-old Melbourne Cup over 3,200m has become a global event and its bumper A$6.2 million (S$6.19 million) prize money lures the big names of thoroughbred racing, from Japan to the Gulf and the British isles.
While Japan's Fame Game is the pre-post favourite, a roll call of leading international trainers are trying their luck, some of them not for the first time.
A record-equalling contingent of 11 foreign-trained horses are running at Flemington racecourse, where the Cup has gone to an international winner only six times.
Godolphin, the Dubai racing and breeding monolith owned by Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al Maktoum, is back for the 18th time after three second placings - Central Park (1999), Give The Slip (2001) and Crime Scene (2009).
You need to bring horses that have the speed, stay the trip and handle the ground andI think we have three good chances this year. At home,we have some good horses but they have to carry too much weight (in the handicap race).
SAEED SUROOR, trainer of Sky Hunter, on Godolphin’s chances
Godolphin's main chance this year is Sky Hunter but the stable also has the locally trained Hartnell in the running.
"You need to bring horses that have the speed, stay the trip and handle the ground and I think we have three good chances this year," said Saeed Suroor, the trainer of Sky Hunter.
"At home, we have some good horses but they have to carry too much weight (in the handicap race). So, I have to think what is our best chance."
Michael Stoute has been a champion trainer 10 times in England and has won races worldwide, including victories in the Dubai World Cup, Breeders Cup and Japan Cup along with five Epsom Derbies and two Ascot Gold Cups.
However, he has also yet to capture the Melbourne Cup and gets his chance with top-weight Snow Sky, owned by Saudi Arabia's Prince Khalid Abdullah, 10 years after his last Cup runner Distinction.
Newmarket trainer Ed Dunlop has come close to winning the Melbourne with Red Cadeaux.
The gelding has been a runner-up in three of the last four years.
Dunlop also has a strong chance with Trip To Paris, who finished second to Mongolian Khan in the shorter main lead-up race Caulfield Cup (2,400m) a fortnight ago.
Irishman Aidan O'Brien is hoping to replicate the successes of compatriot trainer Dermot Weld with Vintage Crop (1993) and Media Puzzle (2002) for his two runners, Kingfisher and Bondi Beach.
O'Brien has not had a Cup runner since 2008. However, both this year's entries have strong credentials. Bondi Beach won the English St Leger after an inquiry while Kingfisher finished second in the Ascot Gold Cup.
Another Irish contender Max Dynamite, will be ridden by Frankie Dettori.