Leviathan owner Lloyd Williams and his private trainer Robert Hickmott are shaping up as Australia's best chance of stopping the foreign raiders from walking away with a third successive Melbourne Cup this year.
Williams, whose obsession with winning the Melbourne Cup is well-known, already has four guaranteed runners and could end up with six in the 24-horse field after first acceptances for this year's $6.2 million race on November 6 were taken.
Foreign-trained horses have won the past two Melbourne Cups through French pair Dunaden and Americain following on from Japanese winner Delta Blues in 2006 and Irish trainer Dermot Weld's two winners in Media Puzzle (2002) and Vintage Crop (1993).
And foreign trained horses currently hold down six of the top eight positions in betting on Australia's greatest race at Betfair with the Luca Cumani-trained Mount Athos the favourite at $10.
However Williams appears to have his strongest hand in years as he chases his fourth Melbourne Cup success having won with Just A Dash in 1981, What A Nuisance in 1985 and Efficient in 2007.
Williams' guaranteed runners at this stage are the second favourite in Saturday's Turnbull Stakes winner Green Moon, which is now up to 17th in the order of entry following first acceptances - which cut the number of horses left in the race to 67, while Turnbull Stakes runner-up Seville (19th), Midas Touch (11th) and Saturday's Craven Plate winner in Sydney Mourayan (16th) are all now safely inside the top 24.
And in addition Williams could also yet get Saturday's Bart Cummings Handicap (2500m) winner Tanby (currently 33rd in order of entry) and Excluded (58th) into the final field.
However Williams is not the only local to have a strong hand in the Melbourne Cup with leading Victorian trainer Peter Moody guaranteed at least a trio at the great race in Manighar (third), his Italian import Voila Ici (ninth) and star mare Lights of Heaven (tenth) provided they stay fit and healthy.
Gai Waterhouse has two horses currently in the top 24 including third favourite and Caulfield Cup favourite Glencadam Gold, although she elected not to pay up with her champion middle distance mare More Joyous while John and Wayne Hawkes also have two in the top 24 in 2010 runner-up Maluckyday (15th) and last year's eighth placegetter Niwot (18th).There are currently six internationally-trained runners inside the top 24 at present with Weld's Galileo's Choice (25th), Godolphin's Lost In The Moment (29th) and Andre Fabre's Brigantin (30th) all currently just outside the top 24 at this stage.