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The landscape of the race that stops a nation, the Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) is starting to take shape, and Justhorseracing is once again giving you the in-depth look at the key runners leading into the big race and where your money should be going.

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Who ran last weekend?

Boom German stayer Protectionist made his Australian debut in the Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) and on face value really caught the eye with his closing fourth. That run should top him off nicely for the Melbourne Cup, and while he is a definite contender, he would need to improve a few lengths to greet the judge.

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Fawkner was outstanding in his victory in the Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on Saturday, aided by a brilliant ride from Nick Hall. The horse had the charmed run behind the speed, then peeled out on the turn, sprinted well and then held off Criterion to win by a neck. Fawkner will now go to the Cox Plate (2040m) and will more than likely look to win the Cup.

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Who runs this weekend?

The current equal fourth pick in betting for the Cup is The Offer, and he hasn’t really deterred me yet after three runs this Spring. He was very good late in the Dato Tan Chin Nam behind The Cleaner, then went to the Underwood and was strong late and through the line when ninth to Foreteller. He then went to the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) on the weekend was fantastic, again going through the line very nicely. Caulfield Cup for him this Saturday and he should be ready to do something now coming back to a handicap and stepping up to 2400m.

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Boom kiwi stayer Who Shot Thebarman was tipped by everyone who wanted to listen in the Sydney Cup (3200m), but he was no match for The Offer before being transferred to Chris Waller. His first two runs back from a break were plain, then he came to Flemington and was quite impressive in winning, albeit in weak company. He then ran in the Bart Cummings (2520m) and was impressive in winning, again defeating pretty ordinary company. The one thing in his favour is that he will run the two miles with no issues, and we will get a good guide as to whether or not he is a genuine contender after he runs in the Caulfield Cup.

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Where is the value?

I think the $35 on offer for Brambles is a touch of overs. The 2012 QLD Derby winner had been struggling to find his best, but he produced it in the Turnbull with a slashing third to Lucia Valentina after sitting on the speed. If he gets in the Caulfield Cup field this Saturday, he will be a definite contender, but if not, bet on him in the David Jones Cup and watch him win there as heads possibly towards the Melbourne Cup.

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