Caulfield Cup: Can Bonneval hit top form, or will Johannes Vermeer, Humidor, Harlem or Amelie's Star win?

Caulfield Cup: Can Bonneval hit top form, or will Johannes Vermeer, Humidor, Harlem or Amelie's Star win?

Caulfield Cup: Can Bonneval hit top form, or will Johannes Vermeer, Humidor, Harlem or Amelie's Star win?

Updated 20 October 2017, 19:55 AEDT

It's time for the first leg in the traditional "two Cups and a Plate" — but who are the main chances in Saturday's Caulfield Cup?

This year's Caulfield Cup looked to be if not a one-horse race, a Group One with a dominant favourite.

But in the space of a few races at Caulfield last weekend, the thinking about the $3 million, 2,400m handicap changed quite markedly.

Now we have a new favourite, and suddenly the Cup looks a lot more open than it did.

Take a look at some of the main chances in the first leg of Melbourne's big three spring races, the "two Cups and a Plate".

The Front-runner

For some time Bonneval was the market leader, winning six races on the spin from March this year — including the New Zealand and Australian Oaks.

The mare also won the Underwood Stakes over 1,800m at Caulfield at the start of October, beating Hartnell and Gailo Chop in an eye-catching performance.

Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman's star horse was all over the Caulfield Cup markets before she had a tough run in the Caulfield Stakes, finishing back in sixth with cuts to her legs.

There were doubts that the mare would run, with a vets inspection during the week, before she was passed fit to run.

She also has a tough draw in barrier 14, but if she runs to its best, Bonneval will go extremely close.

The other runner for Baker and Forsman, Jon Snow, has the most culturally relevant name in the field. How's his form, though?

The four-year-old bay won the Australian Derby in the wet at Randwick over the Cup distance in April.

He came back in September for a series of runs including a win in the Japan Racing Association (JRA) Cup at Moonee Valley over 2,040m, and then a third in last weekend's Caulfield Stakes.

He has a decent barrier of six and runs off 54.5kg, but has a bit to do to get home for what would be his second Group One success.

The Non-runner

Darren Weir's Japanese import, Admire Deus, was well in the list of chances before being withdrawn on Tuesday after a training incident at Warrnambool.

Japanese stayers are highly rated, and Admire Rakti won the race three years ago before tragically collapsing and dying after the Melbourne Cup.

Admire Deus was set to race in the Caulfield Cup without a lead-up run, but he broke down in trackwork and sustained a serious leg injury.

Given the solid performance of internationals in recent years, his absence is a big disappointment for the race.

The Topweight

Weir's Humidor thrashed a field including Hartnell in the Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington in September.

Jockey Damian Lane gave the five-year-old bay gelding a perfect run, urging him home down the outside to outflank his rivals and stretch clear to win by more than three lengths.

Some of the shine came off, however, when he finished well back behind Winx and Ventura Storm in the Turnbull.

Humidor has the topweight of 56kg, and a decent enough barrier in 10.

The David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig-trained Ventura Storm, was a surprise second in the Turnbull, but he still was left far behind the champion.

Ventura Storm will carry 54kg and will not have to travel too far to get across from barrier four.

Where do their runs stack up? We will only get a proper idea on Saturday.

The lightweights

Darren Weir's other runner, Amelie's Star, was a fast-finishing fourth to Harlem in the Group Three Naturalism Stakes (2,000m) at Caulfield in late September.

But it was a fortnight later that she really impressed, winning The Bart Cummings at Flemington over 2,500m over the likes of Harlem and last year's Melbourne Cup winner, Almandin.

The win made her exempt from the ballot for the Melbourne Cup, but in the meantime she is now fourth favourite for the Caulfield Cup, carrying 51kg for the race.

The high-flying stable of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig has four entries in the Cup, including Ventura Storm, Boom Time and He's Our Rokkii.

But the leading chance is Harlem, who won the Naturalism in slashing style, and has only half a kilo more than Amelie's Star at 51.5kg.

The other one at the bottom of the weights is Lord Fandango, carrying just 50kg.

The imported five-year-old is trained at Ballarat by Archie Alexander, and he won the Group Two Herbert Power last weekend, but it's difficult to see him beating the classier horses in the field.

The market mover

Gailo Chop won the Caulfield Stakes to confirm he is in top form for OTI Racing, but the Darren Weir is bound for the Cox Plate rather than the Caulfield Cup.

The big improver on the weekend was Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien's Johannes Vermeer, who rocketed home down the outside from the top of the straight to go from last to nearly first, finishing just shy of Gailo Chop.

The five-year-old bay horse has been crunched in the betting to sit as a $4.40 favourite for Saturday's race.

The other two internationals in the field — the Hughie Morrison-trained Marmelo and Willie Mullins' veteran Irish raider Wicklow Brave — look to have a difficult task ahead of them.

So how do we line up the form?

The problem is, that a string of horses have put together big performances, but the form doesn't seem to last.

Johannes Vermeer is getting the attention right now because he came home like a bullet to provide the most recent highlight — but can he reproduce that form when it counts?

Can Bonneval crack her best form? Will Amelie's Star be able to show she can win at Caulfield as well as Flemington?

The answers will be revealed just after 4:30pm AEDT on Saturday.