Three-time Melbourne Cup winning owner Lloyd Williams has warned punters not to dismiss the chances of his two runners - Green Moon and Mourayan - in Tuesday's $6.2 million race.
Williams' runners have had unusual preparations in that neither has raced beyond 2040m in preparing for Tuesday's 3200m race that stops a nation.
Green Moon, last year's Caulfield Cup runner-up, had been amongst the leading contenders for this year's race until his disappointing seventh when beaten as a favourite in Australia's weight-for-age championship the Cox Plate (2040m) at his last start just over a week ago.
And Mourayan, who was scratched from last year's Melbourne Cup on the morning of the race, has not raced since winning his last start over 2000m in the Group Three Craven Plate at Randwick way back on October 6.
However Williams, speaking on Melbourne racing radio station ''RSN'' on Monday morning, says his unique private training facility at altitude at Mount Macedon (64 kilometres north-west of Melbourne) meant that he did not need to give his horses the traditional Australian style preparation leading into the race.
"My horses are fit to run the 3200m (despite not having started beyond 2040m this campaign)," Williams said.
"The horses being trained on the metropolitan tracks need to have a preparation run at 2400m but we do a lot of our work with our horses at home (at Mount Macedon).
"We have a 5.5km training track and they are trained up hills so they won't be short on fitness.
"It's no different to some of the European trained horses winning this race first-up in the past and the old Bart Cummings adage of getting 10,000m worth of racing into them before running in the Melbourne Cup doesn't necessarily apply with the different training conditions we have today."
While Williams has no doubt his horses are fit enough to win the Melbourne Cup, he is unsure if they are good enough.
Williams, who was once one of Australia's biggest punters whose cleaning out of the bookmakers on Melbourne Cup day was legendary but now rarely bets, says these days it is much harder to find the winner.
"If I was having a bet tomorrow you could have 10 picks and not find the winner," he said.
Williams said the race has improved 'about six lengths in quality' since the days of his first Melbourne Cup winner - Just A Dash in 1981 with his other winners being What a Nuisance in 1985 and Efficient in 2007.
The former Crown Casino boss said Green Moon comes into the Melbourne Cup with similar form to Efficient in 2007 after both failed in the Cox Plate.
"Green Moon hasn't shown to me he is a genuine weight-for-age horse but when he gets back to 53.5kg in a handicap race at Flemington, he is a terrific competitor."
And Williams said Mourayan, who finished within a length of Melbourne Cup favourite Americain at weight-for-age in last year's Zipping (formerly Sandown) Classic and meets that horse 4.5kgs better off at the weights on Tuesday, was likely to push forward from his good gate of barrier three to ensure the race is run at a decent tempo.
"Mourayan is a solid stayer (who will be suited by a truly run race) while Green Moon has that good turn of foot so we live in hope," Williams said.