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It is a time of great excitement for racing enthusiasts.

The upcoming spring is a blank page, waiting to be filled with amazing stories, emotional moments and good plunges.

With the release of Melbourne Cup weights yesterday (click here for a full list), punters can start sifting through the nominations to see who is likely to get a run and who will probably miss out.

Just Horse Racing’s Andrew Hawkins has looked through the Melbourne Cup nominations and provided this horse by horse preview of all 163 entries.

Here is his early look at the Melbourne Cup:

AMERICAIN (USA)58kgReigning Melbourne Cup champion who hasn’t been racing as well this year. On the strength of last year’s win though, reluctant to dismiss.
DANGEROUS MIDGE (USA)57.5kgUnlikely to come, and even if he does come, I couldn’t touch him. I think he’s been given too much weight based on last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf win.
JUKEBOX JURY (IRE)57kgIrish St Leger co-winner who has been good at his last two starts. Should find the trip no problem, but he may be too one-paced for Australian conditions. Not for me.
DESCARADO (NZ)56kgSeems to be behind this preparation and couldn’t touch him.
ALANDI (IRE)55kgToo dour.
CAVALRYMAN (GB)55kgGodolphin galloper who has lost all form at his past two starts. If he could recapture the form that saw him win the Grand Prix de Paris and run third to Sea The Stars in the Arc, he’d be a top chance here. But not on his last two.
LITTORIO55kgRetired.
MIDAS TOUCH (GB)55kgIrish Derby runner up who ran outstandingly in the Makybe Diva Stakes. Going the right way.
MY KINGDOM OF FIFE (GB)55kgEuropean import who has been impressive at every start in Australia. Big query over stamina.
DRUNKEN SAILOR (IRE)54kgHe’s stepped up to another level this year, running second in the Hardwicke and winning the Glorious Stakes before disappointing last start, apparently due to the give in the ground. If it is a firm track, he’s a chance on what we’ve seen this year.
HARRIS TWEED (NZ)54.5kgHas run fifth in the last two Melbourne Cups but has had a throat operation since. Wait and see.
MIGHTY HIGH (FR)54.5kgHong Kong horse who won the Champions and Chater Cup (2400m) at his last start. Doubt he’ll stay the trip.
DUNADEN (FR)54kgFrench galloper who won the Barbeville earlier this year, beating Americain. Disappointing in the Kergolay but not prepared to dismiss until I see him here.
GLASS HARMONIUM (IRE)54kgEuropean import who has been impressive at every start in Australia. Big query over stamina.
LION TAMER (NZ)54kgRunaway Victoria Derby winner. This is the race the owners and trainer want to win, and given that win in the Derby, who’s to say he couldn’t do it? Definite chance.
MALUCKYDAY (NZ)54kgLast year’s Melbourne Cup placegetter who hasn’t shown much since. Will stay the trip though. Chance.
MANIGHAR (FR)54kgHe hasn’t won a race in a long time, and he’s not going as well this year as last year. His run in the Kergolay was all right though. Probably not for me.
UNUSUAL SUSPECT (USA)54kgAmerican Group 1 winner who I had serious doubts about before his nice fourth in the Dato Tan Chin Nam. 3200m still remains a query, but he’s well on his way. Chance.
ALCOPOP53.5kg2009 Melbourne Cup favourite who is starting to return to the form that made him one of Australia’s most exciting gallopers. Still, he tapered off last campaign so I’d need to see him do well to consider him a chance this year.
HERCULIAN PRINCE (NZ)53.5kgLast year’s Metropolitan winner who has not finished closer than 6 lengths to the winner since that Group 1 win. May improve but not for me.
LINTON53.5kgWon’t stay 3200m.
LUCAS CRANACH (GER)53.5kgGerman import who has been the best backed horse in Cup markets. The form around him has stood up in recent weeks, his sectional times are outstanding and he’s a horse with scope. Easy to see why the buyers were attracted to him. Major chance.
MOURAYAN (IRE)53.5kgIrish Derby placegetter who has run some great races out here without winning. Probably wants the 3200m and could be one to watch.
PRECEDENCE (NZ)53.5kgCan never underestimate the Bart factor, and has improved every campaign. Not out of the question.
RED CADEAUX (GB)53.5kgIrish St Leger placegetter who has made leaps and bounds this year. That said, needs to improve to another level to win here. Think I’ll pass.
FOX HUNT (IRE)53kgEntered to run tomorrow night in a Listed 2400m contest in Listowel, Ireland. Needs to win to be considered a chance of coming.
HAWK ISLAND (IRE)53kgEuropean import who has improved every campaign for Waller. Good run first up, forgiveable run second up, he may be Waller’s best chance.
ILLO (GER)53kgGerman import now trained by Bart Cummings. He’s been bought by Richard Pegum, who had Dandaad with Bart and also has the likes of My Kingdom of Fife and December Draw. Don’t know much about him, but be wary of this partnership.
ILLUSTRIOUS BLUE (GB)53kgEuropean import who ran 10th last year. Hasn’t shown anything since to suggest he can go better.
LOST IN THE MOMENT (IRE)53kgGodolphin galloper that had Melbourne Cup written all over him after his run in the Goodwood Cup. Disappointed in the Ebor, but
MEEZNAH (USA)53kgI was really impressed by her win in the Park Hill Stakes – off that, you’d think she’d be a great chance in a Melbourne Cup. Has a big weight for a mare though. Chance.
MODUN (IRE)53kgA good win in the September Stakes has put him on track for Melbourne. Still 50/50 as to whether he’ll come, but he’s a chance.
TRUSTING53kgFinally broke a long run of outs in the Chelmsford Stakes. I think he’ll appreciate 2400m but 3200m is a bridge too far.
VIGOR (NZ)53kgRetired.
AT FIRST SIGHT (IRE)52.5kgEpsom Derby runner up behind Workforce. Has shown surprising tactical speed and a turn of foot in two runs to date. Leading hope.
BOB LE BEAU (IRE)52.5kgEntered to run tomorrow night in a Listed 2400m contest in Listowel, Ireland. Needs to win to be considered a chance of coming.
BOOMING (NZ)52.5kgThis Kiwi horse intrigues me. He really has improved for Jeff Lynds winning the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at weight for age in the autumn. I think he’ll be better over ground too. I rate him highly.
GALILEO’S CHOICE (IRE)52.5kgUnlikely to come, but if he does, I reckon he’s got a good chance.
ONCE WERE WILD52.5kgOrdinary run first up, and has failed both times at 3200m. Not for me.
PLAYING GOD52.5kgDoubt he’ll run, but couldn’t see him running 3200m.
STAND TO GAIN (IRE)52.5kgSydney Cup winner who showed nothing first up. Not sure how the Sydney Cup form will stand up, but think I’ll overlook him.
TACTIC (GB)52.5kgNot good enough.
BAUER (IRE)52kgWon like the Bauer of old last start. Getting on in age, and needs to qualify again. On his last start performance, I can’t dismiss him entirely.
MASTER O’REILLY (NZ)52kgHas run in the last four Melbourne Cups, with two fourths (2008/2009) his best results. His best is behind him.
MOYENNE CORNICHE (GB)52kgEbor winner. His win in the Ebor was only his second, and his form before that is questionable. I’m not sure I could have him in a Melbourne Cup.
RED COLOSSUS52kgCouldn’t see him staying the trip.
SAPTAPADI (IRE)52kgEbor fifth who has only won a maiden. On paper, you’d be surprised if he was a chance. Not for me.
SHAMROCKER (NZ)52kgAustralian Derby and Guineas winner who has a liking for Flemington. 3200m the query.
TED SPREAD (GB)52kgUnlikely to come.
TULLAMORE (NZ)52kgBrisbane Cup winner who produced an eyecatcher first up. If he improves into his next couple of runs, he’ll be high among the chances.
ABSOLUTELY51.5kgDominant AJC Oaks winner. Will never back a Redoute’s Choice in the Melbourne Cup though.
BRAZILIAN PULSE (NZ)51.5kgDoubt she’s come up this prep, and even if she returns to form, can’t have her at 3200m.
KING’S ROSE (NZ)51.5kgVery nice Kiwi mare who has been unbeaten in Australia. Once again, won’t back a Redoute’s Choice over 3200m.
LIGHTS OF HEAVEN (NZ)51.5kgToo early to dismiss her yet, and as a Zabeel she could relish the 3200m. Chance.
SENSE OF PURPOSE (IRE)51.5kgUnlikely to come.
TITCH (NZ)51.5kgFormer jumper who surprised when he won the Auckland Cup. His flat form is good, but would need to improve considerably to be a Melbourne Cup prospect.
ABOVE AVERAGE (IRE)51kgAlways seems to find one better, and I don’t think I could have him.
DREAMAWAY51kgSeems to be behind in her preparation and they may keep her to 2000m this preparation. Nice horse but not this year.
FORETELLER (GB)51kgEuropean import who has shown his best form at a mile. Massive query at 3200m.
HISSING SID51kgSeems to be a few lengths off the top stayers. Not for me.
IRONSTEIN51kgI’ve had a big opinion of this horse for a long time. I said last year, he’d finish top 5 in this year’s Melbourne Cup. I think that’s unlikely now, but I’ll wait until he gets out to 2400m again before I gauge where he’s at. But I’d say it is unlikely.
NIWOT51kgDominant win over the track and distance in the Andrew Ramsden. Needs to take a big step up but it may not be beyond him.
OLDER THAN TIME51kgNice staying mare for Gooree. Her Sydney Cup second was fantastic and Gai Waterhouse has said she’d be aimed solely at the race. If she gets there, she’s a chance.
PADDY O’REILLY (NZ)51kgReally improved last preparation and his win in the Easter Cup was good. Still, I’m not sure. He’s not one of mine. I think I’ll look elsewhere.
SAHARA SUN (CHI)51kgChilean Derby runner up. I doubt the strength of the form from Chile but I haven’t seen enough of him to make a judgement.
SCARLETT LADY (NZ)51kgImpressive Qld Oaks winner who ran well first up. Connections are bullish, and on what she’s shown so far, has to be among chances.
SHADOWS IN THE SUN51kgSA Derby winner at big odds. No.
SYREON51kgMassive query at the trip for mine.
TINSELTOWN (NZ)51kgHe’s apparently had a setback and as a result I doubt you’ll see him in the race.
BLACK AND BENT50.5kgChampion jumper. A Melbourne Cup berth is not beyond him on the form he’s shown on the flat. Don’t think he can win, but he’s probably a top 10 player.
DECEMBER DRAW (IRE)50.5kgEarly Caulfield Cup favourite who is yet to pass the first ballot clause for the Melbourne Cup. Probably a query at 3200m but if he gets in with the weight he’s currently got, you’d think he’d be a nice chance.
LARISTAN (FR)50.5kgEuropean import who has run some okay races so far. Hasn’t fired this spring yet, but can’t sack him completely yet.
MACEDONIAN (NZ)50.5kgDour stayer who would be suited in some of the 4000m races in Europe. I couldn’t have him.
MY BENTLEY (NZ)50.5kgBallarat Cup winner who I thought went alright in the Makybe Diva! Could be the improver to follow this spring?
PRAECIDO (NZ)50.5kgOn pedigree, you couldn’t back him. But he’s always looked like he would appreciate the trip. Personally, I think he lacks a turn of foot which makes it hard for him. But he could sneak into the field.
RAFFAELLO50.5kgProbably past his best.
REBEL SOLDIER (IRE)50.5kgEuropean import who I had high hopes for, but he’s been disappointing. On what he’s shown, no.
SHOWCAUSE50.5kgNZ Cup winner. He relishes 3200m. Will need to show something this Saturday over 2000m to be on track in my opinion.
SPECHENKA50.5kgHolds the Randwick track record over 2400m, so he’s obviously a serious stayer on his day. It just depends – will his best be good enough for a Melbourne Cup? I doubt it personally.
ABSOLUTELYAWESOME (NZ)50kgHas shown glimpses of promise throughout his career, and Mike Moroney knows how to qualify horses through the Lexus – horses like Brew, Maythehorsebewithu and Catchmeifyoucan come to mind. Still want to see something more though.
AKINOSHIRABE (JPN)50kgImported Patinack mare who is working her way through the grades. This year’s Melbourne Cup probably comes too soon.
AKZAR (IRE)50kgImported Irish galloper who has been a bit enigmatic down here. Perhaps wait and see how he goes once past 2000m in Australia?
ALLANTHUS50kgNot for me.
ALTIUS50kgBlueblood who is unlikely to stay the 3200m. Not for me.
ANUDJAWUN (NZ)50kgImproving Zabeel gelding who is working into form. Only won the one race though.
BACK IN BLACK (NZ)50kgDoubt he’s good enough.
BASE (NZ)50kgHe has a breathtaking turn of foot – but it takes a very long time for him to wind up before he accelerates. Flemington will suit him down to the ground. Chance.
BLACKIE (NZ)50kgThis horse has impressed me to date. Nice return last weekend. Needs to qualify and I have my doubts about him at the trip. But he’ll win a nice race elsewhere throughout the carnival.
BRUSHING (GB)50kgUnlikely to come.
BUILDER O’REILLY (NZ)50kgWon’t qualify. No.
COSMONAUT50kgStill a maiden and hard to see him improving.
CROCODILE CANYON (NZ)50kgNot for me.
DIYARAKA (FR)50kgDidn’t show much first up in Australia and has to qualify. Hard to see happening.
DON CARLOS (GER)50kgHighly touted import who ran okay at his first Australian start. Was a surprising withdrawal from the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate last week, so my guess is all is not right there.
DON DOMINGO (NZ)50kgHawke’s Bay Cup winner. I think they are aiming slightly too high.
DON’T PUT IT THERE (NZ)50kgNot good enough.
DUBLIN DARLIN (NZ)50kgWon’t qualify. No.
EMAS (NZ)50kgWon’t qualify. No.
ERUPTIOUS (NZ)50kgShe was my best bet of the Warrnambool carnival (she ran 3rd), but probably too big a step for her to feature this year.
EXCEPTIONALLY (NZ)50kgGeelong Cup placegetter last spring. She typically takes time to work into her campaign, so I will be interested to see how she goes once she gets to 2400m.
EXCLUDED (NZ)50kgFairly lowly rated, but this horse is going places. Some of his wins to date has been outstanding, and he couldn’t have been more impressive last Saturday. Next year probably his year, but watch for him.
FINIGUERRA50kgUntapped country trained galloper. Probably starting his campaign too late to be considered a chance this year, but keep an eye on him this spring for the future;
GALIZANI50kgPatinack mare who has risen through the grades quickly. Hasn’t shown much this campaign and doubt she will make the field.
GO WITH THE FLO (NZ)50kgNot good enough.
GREEN MOON (IRE)50kgVery nice import who is entered for tomorrow’s Newcastle Cup. I’m not sure about him at 3200m though, based on pedigree. Top 10 chance.
GUEST WING50kgPerth Cup winner who’ll probably be outclassed. No.
HEAD NORTH50kgHasn’t done anything to suggest she’ll be able to make the race. No.
HEEZ BORN LUCKY (NZ)50kgNot on what he’s shown to date.
HIDDEN GEM50kgSeems to be gone this campaign. No.
HOME ON A WING50kgEnigmatic galloper who hasn’t shown enough for mine to qualify.
HUME (NZ)50kgAlmost made the field in 2009 when he ran 2nd in the Lexus Stakes to Shocking. He runs in Thursday’s Newcastle Cup, but I’d be surprised if he was a chance this year.
I’M JAKE (NZ)50kgHe’s an out and out stayer who ran well first up. He just kept improving last campaign and could continue to improve this campaign. Probably can’t win but he could run top 10 if he makes the field.
ILE DE RE (FR)50kgUnlikely to come.
INNOCENT LADY (NZ)50kgKiwi mare who I fancied in the Auckland Cup, where she finished fourth. She’s returned in good order, but the Melbourne Cup is another task altogether. Couldn’t see it happening.
ISHANT50kgVery good run on Saturday and hasn’t missed a place since Oaks day last year. Not sure about him at the trip though. Happy to overlook.
KING GLADIATOR50kgReturns to the track on Sunday, rather late for a Melbourne Cup preparation. Not sure if he’s good enough either. Prepared to pass.
KITTENS50kgShe’s shown glimpses of promise, especially over a distance – fourth in the Crown Oaks and SA Derby. Yet to resume so I’d say she won’t be running.
LALLA ROOKH50kgMare who looks an out and out stayer. She’s Group 1 placed too, and was good in Adelaide last week. This is probably beyond her though.
LAMASERY50kgImpressive winner of the Kingston Town Stakes. He’s consistent and knows how to win, but I doubt a son of Commands could get 3200m.
LOPOV (NZ)50kgUnlikely to head for this race, and if he did, I couldn’t have him.
LUCKY EIGHTY EIGHT50kgImproving galloper who should have won first up. Slightly disappointing second up. That said, he’s one who could come through the lead up races. Not dismissing entirely.
MANY STARS (NZ)50kgVery lightly raced Zabeel gelding. He was backed for the Melbourne Cup before his last start seventh at Canterbury. Not this year.
MARDEN (IRE)50kgFull brother to Godolphin’s Lost In The Moment. His two runs here have been good. He’s very lightly raced (only four starts) so he has scope. Will this year’s Melbourne Cup come too soon?
MIDNIGHT MARTINI50kgShe’s worked through the grades and has produced two nice runs this preparation. She reminds me a little bit of Shocking, although she’s less exposed than he was at the same point. Perhaps.
MODULE (NZ)50kgLikely to be spelled.
MONTAHLIA (NZ)50kgWerribee Cup winner. Looks to be outclassed.
MONTGOMERY (NZ)50kgGood win at Sandown last week but still doubt his class for this race.
MR O’CEIRIN (NZ)50kgHard to see him improving enough.
MUSHATTA50kgHe’s promised a lot but yet to deliver. As a Zabeel, he should improve over ground. But I doubt he’d improve enough to make this year’s race.
MY SCOTSGREY (NZ)50kgKiwi who has had a lot of issues. He looks to be in form this preparation though. A race like the Bendigo Cup may be his go if they can keep him sound. I doubt he could win a Melbourne Cup though.
OLYMPIC WIN (NZ)50kgPoor in two runs this preparation. Not for me.
PEGEMBAK50kgEven Bart can’t turn this horse into a Melbourne Cup winner.
PERGOLA (NZ)50kgI think they are punching well above their weight. Not for me.
PINKER PINKER50kgMassive query at the trip for mine.
PLANET PURPLE50kgLong, long odds to make the field. No.
PLATINUM PASSION50kgI have a lot of time for this mare, but not over 3200m. No.
RED EYE SPECIAL (NZ)50kgIt was actually a pretty good win last Saturday at Rosehill. Goes to the Metropolitan now, and he’d need to go very close in that to even consider the Melbourne Cup. I couldn’t have him at this stage.
REPRISAL50kgNot good enough.
REUBEN PERCIVAL (NZ)50kgDour, dour horse. Won the Stayers Cup at Rosehill over the winter. Resumes today in the Cameron Handicap, but I think next year will be his go.
RIGHT OF REFUSAL50kgImpressive VRC St Leger winner. Who’s to say he couldn’t improve enough to win?
SADDLE THE STARS50kgWon’t qualify. No.
SEAN BAILE MOR50kgHaven’t seen anything to suggest she’ll be good enough. No.
SEGURO (NZ)50kgNot going well enough.
SEPTEMBER MORN (IRE)50kgWell down the pecking order for the Robert Hickmott stable and hard to see him featuring.
SHEWAN50kgHe stays alright and he’s improving. You’d say it is unlikely but given his first two runs this prep I’d keep an eye on him in some of the leadups.
SIERRA NEVADA (NZ)50kgNew Zealand Derby fifth who went alright first up last week. Would need a lot to go right to make the field.
SIMPRE ARRIBA (NZ)50kgLightly raced, but could only manage second in a Class 1 last week. He’d need to improve quickly. Not this year.
SPLENDID HONOURS50kgOutclassed.
STRATOCRACY50kgHe’s a nice horse but a Stratum over 3200m? Not for me.
SUNSET CAFE50kgHasn’t raced since January, so I’d say he’s unlikely to run.
SWOOPER50kgI doubt she’s racing well enough to qualify for the race.
TAMANU PARK50kgGood win at Rosehill two weeks ago, but needs to take a big leap to make the field.
TANBY50kgGood 2500m winner last Saturday, but is he too dour for the Melbourne Cup?
THE VERMINATOR50kgChris Waller said a few months ago, this was his Melbourne Cup horse. Given his imported stayers, it was a big call. He’s since won the Wyong Cup and goes around in Thursday’s Newcastle Cup. I still can’t see it, but who am I to doubt Waller?
TRAIN CRUSHER (NZ)50kgWon’t qualify. No.
TWO FOR TEA (NZ)50kgToo dour. Not for me.
VESPER50kgHis first two runs have been pretty good this campaign – but hasn’t run since. Not sure what to make of him.
VIKING LEGEND50kgHasn’t quite recaptured the form of his three year old year. Not for mine.
WESTERN SYMBOL (NZ)50kgWould need to improve markedly to be any chance.
ZAGREB50kgHas had so many problems and looks to be racing below his best. Not for me.
ZARA DANCER (NZ)50kgYet to race beyond 2000m. Would like to see him at 2400m but I doubt he has the class to win a Melbourne Cup.
AMICI NERO49kgThree year old who needs to win the Victoria Derby – an unlikely proposition.
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