Two veterans of the sport will be contesting their fourth Melbourne Cup when the gates fly open next Tuesday at 3pm.
Precedence, a nine year old by Zabeel, and Red Cadeaux, a nine year old by Cadeaux Genereux, will have plenty of sentimental support heading into the race that stops the nation as the winners of ten stakes races and over $8,000,000 in prize money between them.
Precedence, currently $67 with Sportingbet, is trained by the master of Melbourne Cups, Bart Cummings, as well as his grandson, James. Cummings has won 12 Cups with his first being Light Fingers back in 1965 and his most recent occurring in 2008 when Viewed proved too classy at the end of the 3200 metre haul.
His hopes of a 13th Cup lie with the old boy this year. Precedence has faced the starter on 62 occasions from which he has amassed 10 wins and 10 minor placings. He is less than $200,000 of cracking the $2,000,000 mark in prize money earnings so he has been a more than handy horse for his owners.
Precedence has raced in three Melbourne Cups over the past four years. His first go was in 2010 where he was sent out at 20/1. He was Bart's second stringer that year with his mighty stayer So You Think sent out as the favourite to win. However, the closest Bart got to the winner's dais was third, with So You Think filling the trifecta behind Americain and Maluckyday. Precedence finished eighth on that occasion.
The following year Precedence was sent out at 50/1. With just one placing between running in the 2010 and 2011 Melbourne Cups, there wasn't much to suggest the bay gelding could reverse his average form. As expected, he finished down the field, eventually crossing the line in 11th spot.
His next tilt at Australia's most prestigious race was in 2012 and, again, he was massive odds. 100/1 was on offer for the grand campaigner and with Blake Shinn on board he finished ninth.
Precedence did not get a start in last year's Melbourne Cup, being just outside of the top 24 in the order of entry. The old fella comes into the 2014 Cup ranked 17th in the order of entry and his recent form has been pretty good for a nine year old.
Last season he won twice and finished in the placings twice at Group level. He won the International Cup at Group Two level and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Group Three level, while he was a placegetter in both the Hollindale Stakes and the Premier's Cup in Queensland.
A big change for Precedence this year is that he won't be donning the famous black and white checks with yellow sleeves of Dato' Tan Chin Nam. These are the colours worn by three of Bart's Cup winners, Viewed, Saintly and Think Big. Instead, he will be wearing the colours of another part- owner, Sir Patrick Hogan, which is dark green with light green spots. Hogan is the owner of Cambridge Stud which bred Precedence and stood his sire, Zabeel, and grandsire, Sir Tristram.
Red Cadeaux, currently $16 with Sportingbet, comes into the 2014 Melbourne Cup with a much more imposing record. He has won over $6,000,000 and has won seven races from 46 career outings. While he may not win too often, he has put in some terrific runs throughout his career.
The globetrotter's greatest career victory came in 2012 when he took out the Group One Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin, two starts after finishing eighth in that year's Melbourne Cup.
The stunning chestnut has also finished second in the Melbourne Cup twice. The first time was in 2011 when Michael Rodd steered him across the line behind Dunaden. The second time was in 2013, this time with Gerald Mosse on board, where he ran a gallant race behind the Gai Waterhouse- trained Fiorente.
Red Cadeaux has only had five runs since his last trip to Australia and the results haven't been that flash. While first up after the Cup he ran a credible fourth in the Hong Kong Vase, his form has seemingly tapered off since then. He finished last at his most recent running at Kempton in the Group Three September Stakes almost two months ago.
Despite this, his trainer Ed Dunlop is happy with him, stating that he is still in good form ahead of the two mile feature next Tuesday.
Any of the four would create history if they were to win next Tuesday with no nine year old ever having finished in the placings, let alone having won the Melbourne Cup.
The closest a nine year old is finished is fourth with Zipping (2010), Kiwi (1986), Donald (1930) and Magistrate (1980) all achieving the feat when competing at that age. The latter also hold the record as the oldest horse to compete in a Melbourne Cup, having lined up in 1982 as an 11 year old.