It goes without saying that the Melbourne Cup is a race unlike any other.
John Hunter knows that better than most.
Hunter, who lives on a property north of Mendooran, has been to the Holy Grail of Australian racing before.
It was 2014 when Protectionist, a horse he had shares in, won the race that stops a nation and and Tuesday Hunter will be hoping to win the greatest prize the sport has to offer for a second time.
This year it’s with Red Cardinal, who’s contesting the cup for a second time after running 11th at Flemington last year.
“I’ll be excited with a top 12 finish,” Hunter laughed while gazing across the Flemington home straight on Monday morning.
“But as they say, you’ve got to be in it to win it.
“And this is the race you want. It’s the race everyone knows and I generally try and go in on horses that are targeting this race.
“It’s the only race that you could mention in any country in the world and people would know what you’re talking about.”
Red Cardinal’s form hasn’t been all too inspiring in recent times, leading to Hunter’s top 12 statement.
But with rain falling on Sunday night and more expected in the lead-up to cup, Red Cardinal’s team is suddenly feeling a little more confident.
“They’re expecting up to 20ml and that’s what we want,” Hunter said.
“I’ve personally been disappointed with his form. He hasn’t set the world on fire.
“But Darren Weir did say don’t get too excited in the lead-up. He wanted to get 10,000km into his legs and there was just one race he was set for.
“He was 200:1 earlier last week and now he’s into $31. Darren has trained 100:1 winners too so he knows what he’s doing.
When the horses come past for the first time the roar is unbelievable.John Hunter, part owner of Red Cardinal
“If we get the showers he says he’s a top four chance.”
The six-year-old gelding head to Flemington having only run better than eighth once in his past eight starts.
But he scored a favourable barrier at last week’s Melbourne Cup draw. He was the first name out and landed gate five.
Cup-winning jockey Damien Oliver has the ride, a late alteration after Brenton Avdulla was meant to be the jockey for Weir until his suspension late last month.
“We’re pretty lucky to have him,” Hunter said of Oliver.
Hunter and his wife Julie will again be in the stands when the race is run on Tuesday.
The pair are no stranger to the cup and many other of Australia’s biggest races but Hunter still found it hard to explain what it's like to be there when the Melbourne Cup is being run.
“It’s huge,” he said.
“When the horses come past for the first time the roar is unbelievable.
“They’re expecting 110,000 people there on Tuesday. We went to Derby Day (at Flemington) on Saturday and there was 95,000 people there then.”
Red Cardinal is Hunter’s only hope on cup day at Flemington.
The favourite for the cup on Monday afternoon remained Yucatan at $5.50 while Magic Circle ($8) and Cross Counter ($9) were next best.
The Melbourne Cup jumps at 3pm on Tuesday.