I was riding in Japan this weekend - I was fortunate enough to win the Tenno Sho on Maurice on Sunday - so I can't give you any first-hand reports on how my mount Bondi Beach has settled in, I'm afraid.
But the feedback I have had is encouraging, and I would like to think that I go into the Melbourne Cup with a better chance than most, and there are certainly worst draws than mine in five.
My colt disappointed, to a degree, in this race last season but he is a year older and a year wiser now, and the simple fact that he experienced the travelling and occasion then is a big plus to his chances this time around, as is his preparation.
This will actually be the first time I have ridden the horse but he was clearly one of the leading 3yo stayers last season based on his St Leger second, after which he went to Flemington and finished 16th in this race.
It was a better run than his final placing suggests - he was drawn wide in 18 and was beaten only around 6 lengths - and I would think that this race has been his long-time target since. Well, it has.
He has had a light and successful campaign, and he clearly shaped very promisingly over 1m4f at Leopardstown last time when third to Zhukova and US Army Ranger, even if the first two home did nothing for the form next time.
I think is fairly weighted, and the step back up to 2m on decent ground will suit. With luck in running, I would hope and expect him to be very competitive.
To state the obvious, this is a wide-open race, though.
The home team are headed by Hartnell and Jameka, and we saw last season outsiders can and do win this race, too, so I fear all of my 23 rivals. They will all have been trained to peak here.
I was impressed by Heartbreak City in the Ebor and I give him a fair shot. I rode Quick Jack for his trainer Tony Martin in the Chester Cup, and he told how highly he rated this horse back then, and the horse proved his belief correct at York. But he and Willie's Irish St Leger winner Wicklow Brave, who I obviously know well, haven't had the luck of the draw on the wide outside.
I think Big Orange has his work cut out from top weight, if I am being honest. Yes, he is well drawn in seven, has been in great form this summer, and has been trained specifically for this race, in which he finished an excellent fifth last year. But I just think he will be susceptible to horses with a change of gear come the finish.
Godolphin come here mob-handed after hoovering up a lot of the prep races with horses they have brought over - and the fact that they have must give the other Europeans a lot of hope, as it could suggest the home team are maybe not that strong this year - but I do give Almandin a decent shot.
He could be the one to beat, in fact.
I was lucky enough to ride Protectionist to win this race two years ago, and this gelding beat him in a Group 2 in Germany that summer.
He has obviously had his troubles since but he is peaking at the right time to judge from his defeat of Zanteca in the Bart Cummings over 1m4f here last time, and he rates a big danger to all if staying the two miles.
I should also give a mention to Exospheric, who I rode when he was pretty spectacular in the Jockey Club Stakes back in April. Things didn't really work out for him afterwards, though he ran well in defeat on occasions, and he looks to have shaped very encouragingly when third in the Caulfield Cup for new connections. He has the talent to shine, for sure.
You can read Timeform's Melbourne Cup 2016 Runners Guide behind the link.
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