Australia’s premier staying races, the $5.15 million Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) and the $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m), have attracted an array of world class nominations with horses from the UK, Ireland, France, Germany and Japan joining Australasia’s best.
The 142nd Caulfield Cup, the world’s richest 2400-metre turf handicap on 19th October at Caulfield, has attracted 143 entries including 25 internationally trained horses, while the 159th Melbourne Cup, to be run at Flemington on 5th November, has received 152 entries including 39 internationally trained horses.
The headline stories among the entries include:
- The first seven horses’ home in the 2018 Melbourne Cup, won by the Charlie Appleby-trained Cross Counter from fellow UK from fellow UK visitors Marmelo and Prince of Arran, have all been nominated for the 2019 edition;
- Cross Counter joins this year’s winners of the Sydney Cup (Shraaoh), Adelaide Cup (Surprise Baby) and Brisbane Cup (Sixties Groove) amongst the entries for both races;
- The winners of the 2019 editions of the ATC Derby (Angel of Truth), New Zealand Derby (Crown Prosecutor), Queensland Derby (Mr Quickie), South Australian Derby (Qafila) and ATC Oaks (Verry Elleegant) have been entered for both Cups, while Queensland Oaks winner Winning Ways holds an entry for the Caulfield Cup;
- After victories by Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds in the past two Melbourne Cups, 13 have been entered for this year’s race and eight for the Caulfield Cup including recent Royal Ascot winners Dashing Willoughby and South Pacific and Geoffrey Freer Stakes winner Technician.
Greg Carpenter, Racing Victoria’s (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing, said: “We’re delighted with the list of entries received for the Stella Artois Caulfield Cup and Lexus Melbourne Cup. There is great depth among the entries and it will be a challenge to secure a place in both races.
“It’s great to see Cross Counter given his chance to become the first dual international winner of the Melbourne Cup and those horses that finished second through seventh behind him last year being given their chance to atone.
“The Caulfield and Melbourne Cups are Australia’s premier staying races so it’s equally pleasing to see so many Derby, Oaks and interstate Cup winners among the entries for both races providing the opportunity for a strong local response to an impressive international challenge.
“It’s terrific to see a group of horses that are specifically targeting the Caulfield Cup including emerging Japanese star Mer De Glace and Queensland Oaks winner Winning Ways who will both prove very competitive in the race.”
Renowned Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has made eight and 11 nominations respectively for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, with reigning English St Leger champion Kew Gardens (pictured top) arguably the pick of his arsenal.
Mustajeer, who will be trained by Kris Lees when he arrives on Australian soil on AFL Grand Final day (28 September), shot into Melbourne Cup calculations when he took out last Saturday’s rich Ebor Handicap at York.
The Australian Bloodstock syndicate bought Mustajeer prior to his Ebor triumph, and they look set to play a leading role in this year’s Victorian Spring Racing Carnival with high-class stayer Torcedor, trained by Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Andreas Wöhler, also amongst their nominations.
Saeed bin Suroor’s Red Galileo, David Elsworth’s galloper Desert Skyline, progressive four-year-old Raymond Tusk, trained by Richard Hannon, and Roger Varian’s tough seven-year-old Barsanti are also amongst the international nominations for the Melbourne Cup after chasing home Mustajeer in the Ebor Handicap.
Joining them among the entries for the Melbourne Cup is superstar Japanese mare Lys Gracieux who has accepted an invitation to compete in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on 26th October.
Internationals have dominated the Melbourne Cup in recent years, winning the last two editions, but the current crop of locals looks well-equipped to mount a serious challenge in 2019. They are led by Steel Prince, the Irish-bred stayer who is unbeaten in five starts since joining Freedman Racing and is guaranteed a start at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November, having won a golden ticket courtesy of his thrilling victory in The Andrew Ramsden (2800m) in May.
The horse he narrowly beat that day, the Paul Preusker-trained Surprise Baby, is also amongst the nominations for both cups, as is European import Django Freeman, who finished runner-up in the German Derby and will be prepared by two-time Melbourne Cup winning trainer Robert Hickmott after recently arriving in Australia.
Both of Hickmott’s triumphs came during his tenure as head trainer at Lloyd Williams’ Macedon Lodge complex, and the Hall of Fame owner is again well represented in both cups as he chases a seventh Melbourne Cup success.
Williams’ international nominations include Irish Derby winner Latrobe, prepared by Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Joseph O’Brien, and his stablemate Master Of Reality, who ran a mighty race when third to Europe’s best stayer, Stradivarius, in the Ascot Gold Cup (4000m).
His Australian trainer Liam Howley has 2018 Caulfield Cup runner-up Homesman and last year’s beaten Melbourne Cup favourite Yucatan among Williams’ entries for both races.
James Cummings has entered four horses, including dominant Tancred Stakes (2400m) winner Avilius, in his pursuit of a maiden Melbourne Cup, while crowd favourite Hartnell is one of the stable’s six entries in the Caulfield Cup.
Other entries of note for the Caulfield Cup include Mer De Glace, a highly progressive Japanese raider prepared by Hisashi Shimizu. Australian jockey Damian Lane forged a strong partnership with Mer De Glace during his recent riding stint in Japan and was instrumental in persuading connections to target the showpiece event of the Caulfield Cup Carnival.
Stivers, bred in Argentina and trained by two-time Melbourne Cup winner Dermot Weld, is another intriguing entrant as is the Tony McEvoy-trained Divanation, the daughter of three-time Melbourne Cup winning champion Makybe Diva.
David Brideoake’s versatile galloper Self Sense, nominated for both cups, is guaranteed a start in the Caulfield Cup after winning the Listed Mornington Cup (2400m) earlier this year; whilst the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable have a total of eight horses entered across both feature contests including multiple Group 1 winners Kenedna and Humidor, who makes his long-awaited return to action in Saturday’s Group 1 New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
Chris Waller’s all-conquering stable has entered a host of runners with 19 in the Melbourne Cup and 13 in the Caulfield Cup, including Sydney Cup winner Shraaoh and the highly rated Kings Will Dream, who is on the comeback trail from injury.
Mirage Dancer, formerly trained in the UK by legendary horseman Sir Michael Stoute, is an eye-catching recent addition to the in-form stable of Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young; whilst the Lindsay Park team of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig have taken over training duties of Rostropovich, who finished fifth in last year’s Melbourne Cup when under the care of Aidan O’Brien.
Caulfield and Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Gai Waterhouse offers some of the more interesting entries in the Melbourne Cup with four three-year-olds nominated including Just Thinkin, Echo Lad, Rule The World and the unraced Entente.
Weights for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups will be released by Carpenter on Tuesday, 10th September 2019.