Ready or not, it's that time of year again when Melburnians' thoughts turn to all things racing. It's time to frock-up as the best-dressed come out to play.
The biggest event on racing calender, the 2017 Melbourne Cup, is just around the corner, so here's our quick form guide to help you stay ahead of the field and not miss a moment of the race that stops the nation.
More than six million people are expected watch the race on television or stream it online with crowds of more than 95,000 expected to flock to Flemington Racecourse on the day.
THE 2017 EMIRATES MELBOURNE CUP
- WHERE: Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne
- WHEN: Tuesday, November 7, 2017
- TIME: Gates open at 8.30am
The 2017 Melbourne Cup will be run at 3pm AEDT.
- FIRST RACE: 11am
- LAST RACE: 5.15pm
HOW TO WATCH:
- BLOG: The Age will live blog the action from 9am until the final race with trackside reporters to ensure you don't miss a thing.
- TV: Channel 7 will air the race day coverage
- TWITTER: The event will be live streamed on Twitter for the second consecutive year.
The early favourite for the Cup is last year's winner Almandin, which now has Italian jockey Frankie Dettori in the saddle after Damien Oliver was suspended for his ride in the Cox Plate. Almandin is 7-1 in current markets.
The only four horses to have won back-to-back Melbourne Cups are Makybe Diva, Think Big, Rain Lover and Archer, with Peter Pan winning his two cups in 1932 and 1934.
The second favourite is the Darren Weir-trained Humidor, the first runner since Master O'Reilly in 2008 to run in the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup in the same year. Master O'Reilly ran fourth in 2008.
Reigning champion Almandin is on the verge of being bumped from Melbourne Cup favouritism as Lloyd Williams chases a sixth success in the race with the country's biggest bookmakers hailing this year's event as the most open in the modern era.
The eight-year-old was Sportsbet's easing $8.50 equal favourite with Marmelo on Sunday night as a cluster of overseas-trained raiders and Darren Weir's Cox Plate runner-up Humidor stalked the pair at the top of betting.
Chris Waller's chances of a first Melbourne Cup were dealt a blow when Who Shot Thebarman was withdrawn after he was found to have an elevated temperature on Sunday.
The Moonee Valley Gold Cup winner was due to make his fourth appearance in the race.
It will leave just a field of 23 to face to the starter on Tuesday and bagmen are convinced a shaky Almandin will surrender favouritism after labouring into fourth in his last start, The Bart Cummings at Flemington a month ago.
"Horses like Almandin and Johannes Vermeer could come out and win by four lengths, but it also wouldn't surprise if they struggle, it's that open a race," Sportsbet's Joel Caine said.
"Almandin has had a similar prep to last year, if you can forgive the last start effort, and is the one to beat. I think the genuine tempo will suit him because he is an outstanding stayer.
"Humidor was a huge effort in the Cox Plate behind Winx. The concern is can he stay after a genuine 3200-metre race, but he is the class runner of the field.
"I expect Max Dynamite to tighten up in the market and Rekindling looks a huge X-factor horse and his high Timeform rating of 121 which sees him a major contender."
Globe-trotting jockey Frankie Dettori will try to win the one race which has eluded him at the 16th time of asking, flying in to partner Almandin following Damien Oliver's suspension stemming from the Cox Plate.
Some bookmakers are convinced Dettori's inglorious Melbourne Cup record is likely to only push Almandin's price out before jump time.
"I think it will stay $8 the field at an absolute minimum," Tab.com.au's Glenn Munsie said. "It's the widest Melbourne Cup we've had a in a very, very long while.
"Almandin is out to that price and I don't really think they know what they want to be favourite. Almandin is there as last year's winner, but there's a question mark over what happened the other day. Frankie is not going to endear himself to Australian punters.
"Your man in the street is going to find two reasons why they don't want to back it; it got beat the other day, albeit not going that bad, and also Frankie's riding it. He's had 15 goes and has never ridden a Melbourne Cup winner, but this is his best chance.
"I think they will honestly come for Marmelo because his form has been franked with the Breeders Cup winner and it's a case of, 'in Hughie [Bowman] we trust'."
Seven of the top 10 spots in betting were occupied by horses trained overseas, headed by Marmelo which was a barnstorming sixth in the Caulfield Cup.
Winx's three-time Cox Plate-winning rider Hugh Bowman will take the ride on the English stayer.
The Melbourne Cup's traditional Call of the Card will be held at Crown Casino on Monday.
All tickets must be pre-purchased at the following places:
Ticketek: phone 13 28 49, or visit any Ticketek agency. You can also download the Ticketek app on your phone and buy tickets through there.
Tickets for the event are highly sought after and selling fast so get in early.
Adults passes start at $70 while the early bird deals are still going.
The crowds arriving at Flemington. Athena Lin, Alla Dimech and Casey Lloyd.
WHAT TO WEAR
Punters with general admission tickets can wear whatever they fancy, but it is best to dress to impress.
Members of the Victoria Racing Club, however, have to abide by a strict dress code.
Men (including boys 12 years and older) are required to wear a suit, tailored slacks - tailored chinos are also acceptable - a sports coat or blazer, plus tie and dress shoes. Anything that does not fit into the above is strictly forbidden.
Women (including girls aged 12 and older) are required to dress for a formal occasion, the racing club says. Casual shoes are not allowed. Casual pants such as jeans, leather pants and anything that is basically not a tailored pant is forbidden, as are unstructured jackets, jumpsuits, or anything torn or ripped, even if considered "designer".
Fashionistas say this spring racing season is all about pastel tones and '70-inspired vibes for the ladies.
Here are some tips from stylist Kate Gaskin, who pulled together the looks for the Myer Spring Fashion Lunch last month.
Gaskin favours feminine tones of citrus, pale pink and pale blue. And, of course, the signature colour of the season, red.
Pulling off a head-to-toe red look takes guts, but race day, especially Cup Day and Stakes Day, is the one day to do it. Keep it tailored to avoid any Kate Bush Wuthering Heights comparisons and if you're doing it for Stakes, consider a chunkier heel and slightly more casual accessories than Cup Day, where you can pull out all stops in the glamour stakes.
While modest lengths are encouraged – even regulated – at the track, leave the floaty boho dresses for the summer festival season, Gaskin says.
CAPPO - Racegoers heading to the Cup back in 2014. Photo: Jason South
Train: Special race day trains will leave Flinders Street and Southern Cross stopping at North Melbourne and then running express to the racecourse.
Tram: Jump on the No. 57 tram, which starts at the corner of Elizabeth and Flinders streets. Get off at the Flemington Drive stop, just off Epsom Road.
Bus: Catch either route 472 from Williamstown, Footscray or Moonee Ponds, or route 404 from Footscray or Moonee Ponds.
Uber or taxi: Ladies, were looking at you. For those wearing heels and keen to keep walking to a minimum.
Dress for all seasons, it is Melbourne after all!
It looks set to be a chilly Melbourne Cup Carnival with racegoers advised to have their brollies and ponchos at the ready.
Revellers should accessorise their racewear finery with coats and umbrellas with Melbourne's erratic spring weather set to deliver possible showers, drizzle, cloud cover and low temperatures.
Tuesday's Cup Day public holiday will reach a top of 16 degrees and get off to a drizzly start, but it should be dry skies by 3pm, just in time for the big race.
The bureau predicts a partly cloudy day, with a high chance of showers in the morning, becoming less likely during the afternoon before a mostly dry evening so be sure to bring your brolly and/or poncho.
There will be light winds becoming westerly 25 to 35 km/h in the morning then tending southwesterly in the early afternoon.