HUGH Bowman is steeled. After months of preparation, he knows that the next three weeks is effectively his grand final, and is champing at the bit to get cracking.
The Sydney jockey - who guided Winx to her 28th-straight victory in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington - said his training is all but complete and he is primed for action at Melbourne's trio of crowning tracks at Caulfield, Moonee Valley and Flemington, starting this Saturday.
"It's a great time of year," he said.
"I was only thinking on the way down (on Monday) in the plane - because I've been up and down two or three times a week in the last three weeks, that there's Turnbull Day, Guineas Day … all the preparation's done now.
"All your mental preparation, all your physical preparation as a rider, and now it's just time to do the job. It's very exciting."
Bowman, 38, was booked some 10 days ago to ride Irish raider The Cliffsofmoher in Saturday's Caulfield Cup, and while he was yet to jump aboard, he said he took heart in the $7 shot's chances given its long-held plans.
"He's trained by Aiden O'Brien, so that's a tick, isn't it?," Bowman said when asked what he knew of the five-year-old.
"He ran very well on the weekend … has good form in Europe.
"My understanding is he's been set for these races, and he's come here with the vision of winning the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, along with a bunch of others of course. But it gives me confidence."
The Cliffsofmoher is one of a large international contingent plotting an assault on the Melbourne spring - numbers that have only grown stronger in recent years.
Bowman said the international influx only strengthened the level of racing in Australia.
"I think it goes to show how healthy our racing is," he said.
"I guess it makes it harder for the quintessential Australian 'battler', so to speak, to come and win the main races as it's been billed over hundreds of years.
"But there's no doubt that the quality of the race, over the last decade, has gone north and gone north a long way.
"You need a good horse to win now, and it wasn't necessarily the case. So, you know, if you want to showcase them as the best races in Australia, then it's important to have good horses in them, and with the influence of the European horses, that's exactly what's happening."