in MelbourneTHE weeping Melbourne skies which greeted him on arrival had Irish champion jockey Mick Kinane laughing in the rain yesterday. 'I bought a new pair of sunglasses before I left Hong Kong because of the reports of the weather here. I won't need them, but Vintage Crop does not need hard ground and he certainly won't be getting that now,' said Kinane. Vintage Crop today bids to win the HK$11 million Melbourne Cup for the second time in three years and his odds dropped in Australia yesterday almost directly in proportion to the rain which will turn Flemington's majestic track soft or, at best, dead. It resembles conditions experienced in the historic win of 1993 when an overnight rainstorm turned the too firm ground of the previous day into yielding going which was just perfect for the dual Irish St Leger winner. Vintage Crop has become the centre of attention - along with Kinane - following the latest change in Melbourne's notoriously unpredictable weather. Trainer Dermot Weld has reported the horse to be in excellent condition, as good as before his winning effort of two years ago. Kinane remains in the dark about the horse's real condition, but said: 'I know things must be going all right when Dermot doesn't get in touch with me. It is very much a case of 'no news is good news'. What we seem to have now is a situation where the gods have come out on our side again. 'They were running on a bone-hard track on Saturday and they don't like to water here because of the erratic weather. Vintage Crop would definitely not have liked that. 'I don't want a lot more rain because he doesn't like it too soft either. At the moment it looks as if it might be perfect.' Vintage Crop is now at 9-1 on the eve of Australasia's greatest race but those odds are almost certain to be further clipped today, particularly among rails bookmakers at Flemington who do not have doubles liabilities running on to the race. 'I wouldn't be surprised if he starts close to equal favourite because on softish ground it will be a real staying test and you would have to believe that the great majority of the local runners would not be up to that,' said Kinane. Double Trigger is also at home in soft ground even though he spectacularly failed on it at his last outing in France. However, trainer Mark Johnston is satisfied with his progress since and he could come out on top if it is a dour staying test. Hong Kong's hopes are likely to be pinned again on Vintage Crop, but Kinane and Weld see Double Trigger as a definite danger. 'The likely ground makes a real cavalry charge early on less likely and that could suit Double Trigger who runs his best races from in front. He may be close enough to get through later on and if he does get to the lead he will make it a test and a half,' said Kinane. But Vintage Crop has the turn of foot - even in adverse conditions - that Double Trigger lacks and it may swing the balance his way as far as the European challengers are concerned. Top Melbourne trainer Lee Freedman is now convinced that the odds have turned in favour of the European challengers. 'I wouldn't say it is a complete lottery but the rain is ideal for them and certainly not for some of mine and a number of the other Australian horses. It will make it a tougher staying test and that should suit Double Trigger in particular,' he said. But Freedman has the English import Quick Ransom involved and he could be the one to surprise in the 3,200-metre showdown. He was thought good enough to take to Melbourne last year, but failed to adapt quickly to local climatic conditions and ran poorly in the Cup. He has been with Freedman for a year and ran a fine third in the Moonee Valley Cup suggesting that he is right on target for a more belated attempt on Cup glory. He should be kept safe in quinella and tierce bets. Last year's winner Jeune was a late acceptor for the Cup and Sheik Hamdan's racing manager Angus Gold was on the same Hong Kong plane as Kinane, completing a hike that started on Saturday night in London. 'I am sure Jeune is not as tired as I am. He is in the Japan Cup, but you cannot really let the Melbourne Cup go by, particularly as he won it last year. It will be harder from his draw of 17,' Gold said.