With two weeks remaining only five kilograms and the assessment of his jockey stands between the French stayer Americain and a second Melbourne Cup.
Americain has improved so much in his work since a familiarisation visit to Moonee Valley last week that his handler says he is on the verge of the form he showed this time last year.
But she is waiting for Americain to run in Saturday’s Moonee Valley Cup before declaring him ready for a successful defence.
“He is coming back and he’ll have a good chance,” Stephanie Nigge, who is again supervising the horse’s Cup preparation for trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre, said.
Americain will be reunited on Saturday with regular jockey Gerald Mosse who has been on his back at the horse’s past 11 starts.
The most recent of them was a 10th to another Melbourne Cup entrant, Jukebox Jury, in the Prix Kergorlay (3000m) at Deauville in late August.
The Kergorlay has proved a hot form race with the winner and second horse having both won Group One races since.
But Nigge admitted the stable would have preferred to see a better showing from Americain before he left for Australia.
“We know his form is not the same as last year,” Nigge said.
“But he’s improved a lot since he went to Moonee Valley last week.”
Nigge said Americain weighed in at 525kg after his work on Wednesday, which puts him within one good gallop of his Cup-winning weight of last year.
“He is five kilos more than in the Cup,” she said.
“He will be the same weight on Cup day.”
On this day last year, Americain won the Geelong Cup, setting himself up for his groundbreaking Melbourne Cup victory.
“I think he’s nearly the same and he’ll show us Saturday how he is,” Nigge said.
“After Saturday we will know a lot of things.”
Most of them will be illuminated by Mosse after he rides Americain at Moonee Valley.
“Gerald, he knows him very well and he will tell us if we have the horse back or not,” she said.
“It is very important to have him.”
And her final word on the horse: “He is nearly fit.”