By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Fame Game has been installed as the overwhelming favorite to win Tuesday's A$6.2 million ($4.42 million) Melbourne Cup and become the second Japanese-trained horse to gallop away with Australia's richest prize in thoroughbred racing.
The Yoshitada Munakata-trained six-year-old raised eyebrows with an impressive run at the Caulfield Cup two weeks ago, storming home to finish sixth after stumbling out of the gate at the race considered a form guide for Flemington.
If he wins, Fame Game will emulate Delta Blues (2006) as just the second Japanese winner in the grueling 3,200 meters handicap that dates back to 1861.
Fame Game drew barrier 12 in the 24 entrants, further boosting his chances in 'the race that stops a nation' at Flemington Racecourse.
"Hopefully he can run up to everyone's expectations," Munakata told local media.
"He's definitely better suited over the extra distance of the Melbourne Cup."
Three of the past five winners have been prepared outside Australia and neighboring New Zealand, and the so-called 'foreign raiders' of the northern hemisphere are again strongly represented.
English stayer Trip to Paris is second favorite at 8/1 and has proven form over distance, having won the 4,000-metre Ascot Gold Cup in June.
The Ed Dunlop-trained gelding also impressed with a runner-up finish at the Caulfield Cup.
Irish-trained stayer Max Dynamite is also rated highly (15/1) and will reunite with veteran Italian jockey Frankie Dettori who rode the six-year-old gelding to an emphatic win at the Lonsdale Cup in August.
A former winner with Jeune in 1994, local trainer David Hayes may have the best chance to prevent the trophy heading overseas with Almoonquith.
The six-year-old is a 13/1 chance and has found form at the right time with victory at the Geelong Cup last week.
English stayer Red Cadeaux, trained by Dunlop, is the punters' sentimental favorite and will run for the fifth time after three times finishing runner-up, including last year's race behind Protectionist.
($1 = 1.4011 Australian dollars)
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)