Six horses struggling for traction in the Melbourne Cup order of entry could have their fate decided away from the main spring carnival arena this weekend.
The City Tattersalls Club Cup (2400m) at Randwick hardly registers on the spring racing radar of the major Cups contenders but it can provide a defining moment for lower-rated stayers trying to improve their chances of running at Flemington next month.
There are eight Tattersalls Club Cup nominations still in contention for a Melbourne Cup start but for ballot stragglers such as Less Is More (63rd) nothing less than a win will count.
Less Is More is a French import out of the David Vandyke stable but the trainer, while pleasantly surprised with the stayer's progress in two spring runs, is reserving judgment on 2012 Melbourne Cup dreams.
"It's unlikely he'll be running this year but if he can win on Saturday we'll run him in the Lexus (at Flemington) and see what happens from there," Vandyke said.
It's the same route that almost brought Melbourne Cup success for the two-state Hawkes stable with Maluckyday in 2010.
Maluckyday posted a 4-1/4-length Tattersalls Club Cup win before claiming the Lexus.
The stayer, who is on a comeback trail and who also holds a Randwick nomination for Saturday, then beat all but Americain in the Melbourne Cup.
Less Is More, the Gai Waterhouse-trained Western Symbol, 54th in the Melbourne order of entry, and Bart Cummings's import Dare To Dream (64th) will take promising weight-for-age form into Saturday's race.
They clashed when they chased home Mourayan in the Craven Plate over 2000m with Western Symbol finishing second, Dare To Dream third and Less Is More a two-length fourth.
Queensland stayer Spechenka and the Kembla Grange-trained Peal Of Bells are other Melbourne Cup hopefuls among the 19 nominations.