Japanese stayer Mer De Glace has displaced Constantinople as the Melbourne Cup favourite despite both horses faring well at the barrier draw.
Mer De Glace firmed to $7 outright favourite after coming up with gate two in the 24-horse field, just ahead of Constantinople ($8) who drew seven.
Finche also remains well in the market at $9 to give trainer Chris Waller a first Cup win after drawing ideally in four.
While bookmakers reacted positively to Mer De Glace’s inside barrier, trainer Hisashi Shimizu was not as confident.
Speaking through an interpreter, Shimizu indicated he would have liked a wider gate for Mer De Glace, who jumped from 17 in his Caulfield Cup win under Australian jockey Damian Lane.
“To be honest we probably would have preferred a different barrier but I believe in the horse and the jockey,” Shimizu said.
“Damian Lane should know all about this racecourse so I’ll just let him work out the way.”
Training partners David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig had mixed luck with their trio but significantly their most fancied entrant, Constantinople, fared ideally.
“Great gate. We were hoping for between five and 10, snap-bang in the middle,” Ben Hayes said.
“He should be able to get him in a lovely position from that gate and he should get luck.”
The news was not as good for Surprise Baby, one of the more highly rated Australian chances, who will have to overcome barrier 20.
Trainer Paul Preusker hoped the rain that fell on Derby day might negate the toughness of his task.
“With the track a bit choppy, it might be alright,” Preusker said.
Chris Waller saddles up two runners, Finche and Youngstar (nine) and stable representative Charlie Duckworth feels the stars are aligning for the former, who will be ridden by three-time Cup winner Kerrin McEvoy.
“The whole prep has revolved around this one run and now he’s drawn the perfect barrier, he’s got the perfect Melbourne Cup winning rider so fingers crossed we can just get a nice run,” Duckworth said.
Australian-trained horses comprise half of the Cup field with The Chosen One, who has barrier 18, the only New Zealand runner.
The remaining 11 horses are internationals, four of them from the stable of Joseph O’Brien who is chasing a second Cup win after snaring Australia’s most famous race with Rekindling in 2017.
The O’Brien quartet had mixed fortunes with Master Of Reality landing the rails but the remaining trio drawing double-figure alleys, including Hotham Stakes winner Downdraft in 15.