The 2022 Melbourne Cup is still almost five months away, but already the favourites to take out the race that stops a nation are lining up.
The 2021 race, which was won by Very Elleegant ahead of Incentivise and Spanish Mission, is likely to serve as good of a form guide this far out as almost anything else, with all three of last year's top runners likely to be in amongst the action at the top of the field again in 2022.
The 3200-metre race, held at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, is one of the world's biggest, and you can get more information about the Melbourne Cup horses this year.
Here are the early favourites.
Trained by Chris Waller, last year's champion will be back for another tilt at the race that stops a nation, this time in front of a likely sold out Flemmington after last year's race was only able to field 10,000 fans.
The New Zealand-bred mare has had plenty of big wins in the lead up to its Melbourne Cup triumph, including the George Main Stakes in 2021 and Caulfield Cup in 2020. Previous wins also include the Winx Stakes, Phar Lap Stakes and Australian Oaks stretching back into 2019.
Titleholder is widely regarded as one of the favourites for the 2022 Melbourne Cup, although it might be wise to take a wait and see approach through the lead-up races.
The Japense Colt took out some of the biggest races in Japan during 2021, and has already recorded a pair of major wins in 2022 at the Nikkei Sho and Tenno Sho.
Primed for a trip to Australia, Titleholder will be one to watch.
Incentivise is the early favourite for most.
The Peter Moody-trained Australian gelding had a big 2021 which was rounded out by finishing in second spot at the Melbourne Cup, just falling short to Very Elleegant.
Four big wins led into the Cup for the now five-year-old, taking out the Tattersall's Cup, the Makybe Diva Stakes, the Turnbull Stakes and the Caulfield Cup.
If it wins it will become the second horse to win the Melbourne Cup in the year after taking out the Caulfield Cup, having entered last year's race as favourite.
Spanish Mission is the final horse on this list who ran in the top three of last year's Melbourne Cup, and early markets suggest the horse will be near the front of the field again, competing through the lead-up races and then into the Cup itself.
The six-year-old is also trained by Peter Moody, orignially out of the United States.
With 23 career wins, including the Yorkshire Cup Stakes in last year's British Champions series, before placing third at the Melbourne Cup, expect Spanish Mission to be up near the front once again.
Stay Foolish is another horse who didn't run last year's Melbourne Cup, but will be among the front-runners come the first Tuesday in November.
Another Japanese horse, the seven-year-old took out the Shimbun Hai - a $1 million race - in Japan during 2018.