Race 1 - 12:40PM Darley Ottawa Stakes Tips (1000m)
Best: 8. Harpalee. Tough opener and the market is likely to be your best guide here, with five of these juveniles arriving with race experience, while three of the four first starters are in the market.
From the debutantes, Harpalee just gets the nod, a two-year-old from the Hayes camp and this stable who have been unlucky over the last few weeks of the carnival.
After a quieter first hit-out, the daughter of Alabama Express flew out of the barriers via her most recent 800m jump-out here and led throughout for a soft win.
Value: 3. Arabian Summer. While a few here ran into a dominant Bold Bastille on Cox Plate day, Arabian Summer still brings the best-exposed form, having finished second to an impressive Coleman.
Although this two-year-old couldn't match that very smart colt, she still put nearly three lengths on the next runner home at Caulfield and she's now back to fillies grade.
The McEvoy's often figure in juvenile races (prepared the Maribyrnong Stakes quinella on Tuesday) and this filly bolted in via a straight-track jump-out before her debut.
Race 2 - 1:15PM TCL Trophy Tips (1700m)
Best: 9. Unusual Pearl. It's another open race, however, this outsider has claims second-up following a forgivable return in a fast-run affair, which was effectively a barrier trial and the market was against her late.
A sister to four-time city winner Unusual Culture, this four-year-old created an impression on Australian debut when overcoming trouble to beat Whispering Lady.
Before that recent resumption, Unusual Pearl looked outstanding via a slick jump-out win on October 9 and from gate six over this longer trip, she can settle closer in the run.
Value: 3. Fancify. South Australian trainer Michael Hickmott crosses the border with Fancify, a lightly raced four-year-old who has won two from five, which includes an arrogant return win on September 30.
While she lacked that same brilliance when stepping to a mile second-up, the mare was only reeled in late and with 1700m in mind, it was the run she needed.
Her best two runs have both come on the fresh side and she has completed a good tick-over trial, while from barrier two, J-Mac could well dictate this from the front.
Race 3 - 1:50PM Good Friday Appeal Trophy Tips (2000m)
Best: 17. She's A Con. From a punter's perspective, this isn't much easier than the opening two events, although third-up and now to a more suitable trip, this ex-Kiwi could jump out of the ground.
A galloper who won her last two in New Zealand, which included a 2000m Listed affair in April, She's A Con was solid over the Caulfield 1400m in her first run for Grahame Begg.
She was then back and left flat-footed at Group 3 level, but with intent shown via subsequent jump-out win, she's well placed, now with 1kg less in a much easier race.
Value: 14. Chihuly. A consistent and honest trier from the Greg Eurell yard, Chihuly has almost replicated his first campaign by completing a string of decent performances before saluting over 2000m.
Spelled after a Pakenham breakthrough in March, the four-year-old has measured up in better company as this prep has worn on and that's without having many favours.
There was as much strength to the BM78 he contested third-up and arriving hard fit, along with a confidence booster now under the belt, another win wouldn't shock.
Race 4 - 2:30PM Inglis Bracelet Tips (1600m)
Best: 1. Roots. While carrying 59.5kg over a mile is a decent ask for Roots, she's the class runner in a very thin race and there are excuses were for her second-up flop in The Invitation, which followed a decent resumption.
Sent out as a $9 chance in that Randwick mares feature, she was tightened for room at the start and post-race, Tommy Berry hinted that she lost confidence as a result.
A genuine Group class mare, Roots won this event with 3.5kg less last year as an odds-on fav and she meets Climbing Star (second fav) better at the weights from that clash.
Value: 8. Yankee Hussel. Her strike rate isn't flash, however, as a four-year-old who is coming off a Brisbane Winter prep, where she was multiple times at stakes level, she's got as much talent as most of these.
Over 1200m, Yankee Hussel was terrific fresh when getting home late and then nothing went right second-up, where she over-raced and tired late after covering ground.
I suspect she's better suited with a colder ride, which should make Tommy Berry's job easier from a wide draw and suited to a mile third-up, she's not hopeless at big odds.
Race 5 - 3:10PM G.H. Mumm Century Stakes Tips (1000m)
Best: 1. Spacewalk. There are queries in backing up from Derby Day, especially given the work he did to chase down a tearaway leader after doing the donkey work, albeit he still looks the one to bat here.
Given the quick turnaround and with Spacewalk arguably more effective over shorter sprints in this company, I don't mind the drop in distance down the straight.
Without It'sourtime, Triple Missile, Chain Of Lightning and Garza Blanca among this line-up, he does find a weaker race on Oaks Day, while he draws favourably again.
Value: 12. Aston Ropova. A galloper that excels in the 1000m-1100m range, Aston Ropova is an interesting runner, with the South Australian sprinter clearly showing connections enough to warrant this fresh placement.
The six-year-old arrives off a career-best season, with four of his nine wins recorded in that period and that includes a fresh victory last spring when launching late.
He's completed two trials ahead of this return and it's worth noting that the gelding was wearing ear-muffs in the latest, so they didn't want to give much away there,
Race 6 - 3:50PM Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Final Tips (1600m)
Best: 2. Euphoric. Admittedly, a strong tempo allowed the son of Sebring to get over the top late at Geelong, however, Euphoric was only first-up and his lead-up work suggested that he'd need that fresh run.
The market was in agreeance with that, as he went around at $14 after opening $12 and winning one of the strongest heats of this Country Final holds him in good stead.
With four wins and a second to his name from just seven starts, the four-year-old is one of few in this lineup with genuine upside and he now gets Mark Zahra in the saddle.
Value: 8. Poison Chalice. I thought they would've tipped him out after the Sandown loss on September 20, as the four-year-old is still very immature despite having plenty of talent on his side.
Poison Chalice managed to bounce back at Murtoa, where the son of Savabeel appeared a little more tractable with a soft run, although he's still a work in progress.
If the penny drops on Thursday, which it often can with Paul Preusker runners deep into a prep, then he could easily blow this lot away under J-Mac despite a wide barrier.
Race 7 - 4:30PM The Bachelors Red Roses Stakes Tips (1100m)
Best: 5. Appin Girl. Nothing has gone right so far for the Queensland filly in her Melbourne visit, with Appin Girl scratched after being fractious in the gates via her scheduled return over this track/trip in September.
The O'Dea & Hoysted stable have a good record on the road and had there been any queries following the fresh defeat as fav at Caulfield, then they wouldn't be pushing on.
She was slow away in that October 14 attempt, which is out of character, but Appin Girl still got home fairly after being held up and Mark Zahra stays aboard second-up.
Value: 14. Aviatress. The maiden that she won stacked up okay time-wise for the class, but the most impressive part of that debut outing was that she overcame trouble and still exploded after being held up.
Beating more seasoned mares as an early three-year-old is tough and yet Aviatress handled that challenge with ease at start two, and that BM64 has produced a city winner.
The Jolly's (Richard or David) regularly bob up over Melbourne Cup week with a winner, especially in these straight races and this girl profiles as well as any past victors.
Race 8 - 5:10PM Kennedy Oaks Tips (2500m)
Best: 2. Zardozi. Derby Day was a tough card for the off-speed brigade in the circle races and yet the daughter of Kingman was only a few strides off nailing Amazonian Lass, with that winner leading all the way.
From barrier six in this 14-runner lineup, J-Mac has the option of landing in a more prominent stalking role and being within striking distance of the Waterhouse & Bott pair, who look the likely leaders.
Also, it's worth noting that the Godolphin filly was a month between runs last Saturday, so she'll only strip fitter and the Dalakhani line of her breeding page has produced Group winning stayers in Europe.
Value: 8. Aethelflaed. From the traditional Wakeful Stakes lead-up, Aethelflaed was the eye-catcher from the rear in that 2000m event and that was despite laying in via her first time going anti-clockwise.
While she wasn't as quick for the last 600m as Zardozi, the Matthew Smith-trained three-year-old was the only other runner to break 36 seconds, while she did record the fastest last 200m of that race.
That fourth-place finish came following a third-up Kembla Grange breakthrough and importantly, she was able to sustain a long run there off a much slower tempo, so Aethelflaed is far from a one-trick pony.
Race 9 - 5:50PM Cirka Trophy Tips (1800m)
Best: 4. Gregolimo. He was heavily backed ahead of his Australian debut at Flemington and while the Michael Moroney-trained import couldn't land those bets, it was still a strong performance from the gelding.
A lightly raced six-year-old who was consistent in Europe, Gregolimo finished second in that fresh outing and Maktoob (third) has franked the form by winning his next two.
He then ran into Muramasa again, a run that had merit given he stuck on in a swoopers race despite not settling and now back in grade, he's well placed to atone third-up.
Value: 13. Seb Song. As mainly a midweek operator, his class seems stretched now contesting a BM90, although Seb Song is in career best touch and with the grey being hard fit, the 1800m is worth a try now.
The son of Sebring stepped to BM78 level on Moe Cup day, where he was ridden for luck after settling back and had he got clear earlier, he would've defeated Rhinoceros.
That form has stood up with Rhinoceros taking out the 100k Peninsula Cup last Sunday and in a race with a long tail, Seb Song is going well enough to finish in the money.