Melbourne Cup 2019: tips and preview for Tuesday's contest in Australia

IT'S all about Down Under on Tuesday as the race that stops a nation – The Melbourne Cup – takes Australia by storm.

As ever it's a fiercely competitive contest, so here's a runner-by-runner guide to make it that little bit easier for you.

1. Cross Counter – William Buick/Charlie Appleby

Last year's winner is back for another crack after running some decent races in the big British Cup contests earlier in the season.

He's not shown quite the same spark since his Dubai Gold Cup victory back in March but clearly thrives at Flemington and will have been targeted for this.

Any further rain would be a slight concern, though, and it would be some performance to win again with over a stone more on his back.

2. Mer De Glace – Damian Lane/Hisashi Shimizu

Quite brilliant colt from Japan carries the same silks as Cox Plate victor Lys Gracieux – and at this stage it's difficult to know which horse is better.

Hisashi Shimizu's contender has won every start bar his debut – and his impressive Caulfield Cup success last time was a career-best by some margin.

He came with a flying run to win from an unpromising position and clearly has bucketloads of talent, so shouldn't be underestimated even with his big weight.

3. Master Of Reality – Frankie Dettori/Joseph O'Brien

Consistent four-year-old has been there or thereabouts in the big staying races and produced an excellent effort to finish third in the Ascot Gold Cup.

He loves a test of stamina, though, so this speed track may not be ideal, and he has a fair amount of weight to carry – for all that Frankie is a good jockey booking.

4. Mirage Dancer – Ben Melham/Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young

Formerly with Sir Michael Stoute, the son of Frankel has shown some fine form in defeat this year and ran a cracker in third behind Mer De Glace in the Caulfield Cup.

That sets him up nicely for this and he can be given a decent chance at a big price if he stays the trip.

5. Southern France – Mark Zahra/Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Another Aussie import having been trained in Ireland with Aidan O'Brien, the progressive four-year-old showed his class with a game win in the Irish St Leger Trial.

He went on to finish third in the real thing, form which would give him a squeak here if he's kept his level for a new stable.

6. Hunting Horn – Seamie Heffernan/Aidan O'Brien

The first of the Ballydoyle contenders comes into this off the back of an emphatic victory in Group 2 company at Moonee Valley.

He'll need more here but that was a good effort and he's always threatened to be top class, so perhaps Australia can see him get there.

His stamina is unproven but if he improves for the trip then he's in with a shout.

7. Latrobe – James McDonald/Joseph O'Brien

Joseph O'Brien won this two years ago with Rekindling and has a squeak here with his former Irish Derby winner.

A second in the Mackinnnon Stakes last year shows he handles the track well and evidence suggests he's more than likely to stay.

Needs a bit more on this year's efforts but O'Brien's horses tend to flourish abroad and he could run a big race.

8. Mustajeer – Damien Oliver/Kris Lees

Six-year-old was cleverly campaigned in Ireland this year, running decent races in Group company before bolting up off a good mark in the Ebor.

His one run since moving to Australia saw him finish an unlucky sixth in the Caulfield Cup (shuffled back at crucial stage) and had he not gone ten wide he may have given the winner something to think about.

Definitely no forlorn hope with a three-time winner in the saddle.

9. Rostropovich – Dwayne Dunn/David A & B Hayes & Tom Dabernig

Another former Aidan O'Brien inmate, Rostropvich hasn't shown much since finishing fifth in the race last year and would need a big career-best to take this.

10. Twilight Payment – Hugh Bowman/Joseph O'Brien

Owner Lloyd Williams has launched a massive raid on this race and has employed jockey Hugh Bowman – of Winx fame – to do the business on his six-year-old.

Closely matched with Latrobe, he'd have claims on his best form but may prefer faster ground.

11. Finche – Kerrin McEvoy/Chris Waller

Rangy type gets in off the same weight as when finishing a fine fourth in the race last year.

He's done enough this season to suggest he's a better horse, with a good second in the Turbull Stakes followed by a fifth in the Caulfield Cup and he's likely to be more of a force over this trip.

However, he does keep finding a few too good and could again come unstuck, even accounting for the fact the wizard Kerrin McEvoy is in the plate.

12. Prince Of Arran – Michael Walker/Charlie Fellowes

Talented six-year-old ran a cracker in the race last year, finishing third after taking up the lead inside the final furlong.

Probably needs a little more to come out on top this time but he's got a better draw and nosed home in the Geelong Cup in his prep.

Definitely in with a shout under just a 2lb penalty.

13. Raymond Tusk – Jamie Spencer/Richard Hannon

Intriguing runner for Richard Hannon, having finished a good fourth in the Ebor when last seen.

He didn't get much of a run that day and will probably need luck again if Spencer does his usual, but he's certainly not without a chance if the breaks come.

Four-year-old has always been highly regarded by connections and this is his chance to shine.

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