Bart Cummings was as laconic as he was royalty at a racetrack.
So when he wiped away a tear - though the mercurial trainer offered the reminder "I do get a bit of hay fever, you know" - after securing the final Melbourne Cup in his immortal dozen back in 2008, you got an understanding of what triumph on that first Tuesday in November means.
We watched as a champion became a legend when Makybe Diva secured a mesmerising Flemington hat-trick. We saw Damien Oliver point to the heavens on Media Puzzle. We've retold tales of Peter Pan defying conditions and Phar Lap emerging as a beacon of hope in the face of a depression.
Who joins them in racing folklore this year?
WHEN IS IT?
As the clock strikes 3pm on Tuesday, Australia will stop and stare with bated breath.
All eyes will descend on Flemington Racecourse for the ultimate test of stamina and staying power, run over 3200 metres with $7,750,000 and the prized golden cup hanging in the balance.
The race that has captured the imagination of fans here and abroad will be run and run in about three and a half minutes. It was Bart Cummings-trained Kingston Rule that annihilated the competition in 1990 to set an all-time record of 3:16.30 minutes.
Ten races fill the Flemington schedule on Tuesday. The Maribyrnong Plate opens proceedings at 10.45am. The Melbourne Cup is race six. The show closes with a sprint at 5.15pm.
HOW DO I WATCH IT?
Channel 10 has struck a deal to become the host broadcaster in Australia, with coverage to begin at 10am.
You can also catch the race on Channel Seven-owned platform Racing.com, available on free-to-air TV. You'll be able to stream it online via Racing.com - also available on Kayo - and Channel 10's TenPlay.
Foxtel's Sky Racing will have coverage of the event but free-to-air stations have exclusive live broadcast rights, meaning Sky broadcast the Melbourne Cup on a delay.
WHO IS THE FAVOURITE?
If you can compare anything in sport to Don Bradman, it may well be Phar Lap. The legendary "red terror" won the Cup at the equivalent of $1.73 in 1930.
Today, Incentivise is the shortest-priced favourite since Phar Lap, with the Peter Moody-trained gelding opening at $2.40, well clear of Spanish Mission at $9 and the remainder of the 24-horse field.
WHO WON LAST YEAR?
It was through the most daring of moves that Twilight Payment was written into racing folklore.
Jockey Jye McNeil took something of a gamble in his first ride in a Melbourne Cup as he worked across from barrier 12 to snatch a lead of several lengths early on - one he would not relinquish.
THE FORM GUIDE
Racing and Sports executive director Gary Crispe has his say on the contenders.
1. TWILIGHT PAYMENT (IRE) G9 Joseph O'Brien 58kg (2)
Last year's Melbourne Cup winner. Comes off a 51 day let-up. Returns looking to defend his title from 12 months ago. Terrific again in Ireland this year.
2. INCENTIVISE G5 Peter G Moody 57kg (1.5kg penalty) (16)
The new star of Australian racing and fresh off a power-packed win at Caulfield Cup over 2400m on a soft track. Set to go around very short and entitled to be after that awesome display last time. Champion in the making.
3. SPANISH MISSION (USA) H6 Andrew Balding 57kg (14)
Twice a Group Two winner including this year's Yorkshire Cup. Stirring battle with champion stayer Stradivarius last time. That formline demands respect.
4. VERRY ELLEEGANT (NZ) M6 Chris Waller 57kg (19)
Nine-time Group One winning mare. Stayed on well in this race last year. In the finish of the Cox Plate with a softer run. Chance.
5. EXPLOSIVE JACK (NZ) H4 Ciaron Maher & David Eustace 54kg (4)
ATC Derby winner. Think he will stay the trip but clearly needs to go to another level now.
6. THE CHOSEN ONE (NZ) H6 Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman 54kg (5)
Fourth in this race last year. Ran a poor one in the Caulfield Cup but as good as ever the week prior. One for wider multiples.
7. DELPHI (IRE) H5 Anthony & Sam Freedman 53.5 (3)
Off his game last time but a firmer surface could see him bounce back. Jockey Damien Oliver has his eye in.
8. OCEAN BILLY (NZ) G6 Chris Waller 53.5kg (13)
Auckland Cup winner at this trip. He was okay at Caulfield and better out to two miles now but this is a lot tougher than an Auckland Cup.
9. SELINO (GB) G6 Chris Waller 53.5kg (24)
Sydney Cup winner back in the autumn. Never got into a spot to challenge at Caulfield. Going better than the form book reads and wants this trip.
10. JOHNNY GET ANGRY (NZ) G4 Denis Pagan 53kg (22)
Last year's VRC Derby winner. Out of form and makes no appeal.
11. KNIGHTS ORDER (IRE) G7 Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott 53kg (9)
Brisbane Cup winner over this trip. Well held here on Saturday and hard to think he could turn things around so sharply in three days.
12. PERSAN G5 Ciaron Maher & David Eustace 53kg (11)
Fifth in the race last year and back for another go. Terrific at Caulfield and set to peak here all along. Chance.
13. CARIF G6 Peter & Paul Snowden 52.5kg (8)
Sandown Cup winner over this trip. Stays two miles but would be a surprise if he could prove good enough to get into the shake up against these.
14. MASTER OF WINE (GER) G7 Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes 52.5kg (6)
Group Three winner but disappointing more recently. Some signs of life two back but he hasn't been good enough in the last 18 months to consider.
15. PONDUS (GB) G6 Robert Hickmott 52.5kg (1)
Third-up today and won third-up in the past. Not far away last time in the Gold Cup at the Valley but this is a deeper race. Needs a career best.
16. GRAND PROMENADE (GB) G6 Ciaron Maher & David Eustace 52kg (21)
Three time winner here at Flemington. Continues to thrive and will stay the two miles well.
17. MIAMI BOUND (NZ) M5 Danny O'Brien 52kg (17)
Former VRC Oaks winner. She was okay at the Valley last time, and placed this trip in the Sydney Cup, but looks outclassed in this.
18. PORT GUILLAUME (FR) G5 Ben & JD Hayes 52kg (23)
Group Two winner in his native France. Yet to see anything like his French form in Australia. Hard to have.
19. SHE'S IDEEL M6 Bjorn Baker 52kg (20)
Group Three Kingston Town winner. Been okay in latest but this is likely to prove beyond her.
20. FUTURE SCORE (IRE) G7 Matt Cumani 51.5kg (15)
Most recently raced three wide. Surely not up to these and certainly doesn't have the form to be considered a winning hope.
21. TRALEE ROSE (NZ) M5 Symon Wilde 51kg (12)
Dominant in the Bagot last season. Better again last time. Tougher now of course but she keeps fronting up and think she runs another big race.
22. FLOATING ARTIST (GB) G6 Ciaron Maher & David Eustace 50kg (10)
Should have won last start. Dead stiff last time but query whether that is the right form for this.
23. GREAT HOUSE (IRE) G5 Chris Waller 50kg (7)
Won his way into this race here on Saturday, winning the Hotham. Thriving over the longer trips now and there was genuine merit to his Derby Day win. Would surprise if he won but would surprise if he didn't run a competitive race.
24. SIR LUCAN (IRE) H4 Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott 50kg (18)
Listed winner and placed in the Gordon at Glorious Goodwood. Great profile for this and must be wary of him down in the weights.
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