Dozen raiders set for Melbourne Cup start
RACING: A record 12 internationals – half the field – are poised to start in next Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.
When second acceptances were taken for the $6 million handicap, 36 horses remained in contention with a third of them based at the Werribee quarantine station.
If the visiting dozen make the final field after Saturday’s Lexus Stakes, the existing record of 11 – set in 2011 and matched in 2015 – will fall.
Last year’s winner Almandin, a German-bred import, Caulfield Cup winner Boom Tim and Cox Plate runner-up Humidor are among the locals who will attempt to stave off the invaders.
Hartnell, third in last year’s Cup, is also among the remaining Aussie contenders and will carry top weight of 57.5kg if trainer James Cummings proceeds to the Cup.
Of the 12 internationals, 11 are already ranked inside the top 24 although there is the possibility Wall Of Fire, at No.24, could be squeezed out by Saturday’s Lexus Stakes winner.
However, Godolphin veteran Qewy (No.22) won’t take his place in the Cup unless he posts a dominant Bendigo Cup win tomorrow.
Lloyd Williams, already the most successful Cup owner in history with five trophies, will chase a sixth victory with possibly five runners – Almandin, Bondi Beach and foreign-trained Johannes Vermeer, US Army Ranger and Rekindling. Irishman Willie Mullins could have three runners – 2015 runner-up Max Dynamite, Wicklow Brave and Thomas Hobson, who sits at 26th in the order. German stayer Red Cardinal, prepared by 2014 Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Andreas Wohler, and Scotland’s Nakeeta are assured starts.
A total of 19 horses were withdrawn from the Cup, including Bonneval whose stablemate Jon Snow remains in contention.
The 12 horses sitting below the top 24 will have a final chance to climb the order in the Lexus ahead of final acceptances at Headquarters at 4.30pm on Saturday.
BIG MOMENT: Qewy, completing track work at Werribee Racecourse, will contest the Ballarat Cup tomorrow, needing a win.