The contenders for the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival’s three marquee races have consolidated further on Tuesday with the next round of acceptances taken by Racing Victoria (RV) for the $6.25m, Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington, the $3.15m, Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield and the $3.05m, Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley.
At the close of first acceptances for the world’s richest two-mile handicap, the Melbourne Cup, 14 internationals and 41 Australasian-trained horses remain in the hunt for a start on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington.
In addition to the Melbourne Cup, first acceptances also closed for the $1m, Group 1 Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) at The Valley on Friday night, 27 October, while second and third acceptances respectively were taken for the Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on 21 October and the Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on 28 October.
$6.25 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) – Flemington, Tuesday, 7 November
A total of 55 horses – up from 52 in 2016 – feature among first acceptances for the Melbourne Cup headlined by defending champion Almandin who is bidding to become the first horse since Makybe Diva to go back-to-back.
Almandin, who retains favouritism despite his defeat by Amelie’s Star in the Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington last Saturday, is one of eight acceptors for trainer Robert Hickmott.
Other Hickmott-trained acceptors within the top 24 in an updated Order of Entry released today by RV are Sir Isaac Newton (20th), Bondi Beach (21st) and Gallante (24th).
Five-time winning owner Lloyd Williams has 11 of the 55 acceptors with a trio of international entrants – Johannes Vermeer (Aidan O’Brien), Rekindling (Joseph O’Brien) and US Army Ranger (Joseph O’Brien) – joining the Hickmott-trained contingent among the contenders for the recent Hall of Fame inductee.
The Darren Weir-trained Amelie’s Star heads up the Order of Entry after securing the ballot exemption with her win on Saturday. She will carry 51kg as she aims to become the third horse since 2000 – after Brew (2000) and Almandin (2016) – to follow up victory in The Bart Cummings with another in the Melbourne Cup.
Amelie’s Star is one of eight acceptors for 2015 Cup-winning trainer Weir who also has Admire Deus (fifth), Humidor (sixth) and Big Duke (23rd) inside the top 24.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman trained duo, Jon Snow (fourth) and Bonneval (seventh), both retain their places in the acceptance list after their impressive recent performances in Group company.
On the back of his runner-up finish behind Winx in Saturday’s Group 1 Seppelt Turnbull Stakes (2000m), European import Ventura Storm (17th) retains his place for the Lindsay Park stable of David Hayes, Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig, who are represented by seven horses.
Of the overseas contenders currently stabled at RV’s Werribee International Horse Centre, Tiberian (trained by Alain Couetil), Red Cardinal (Andreas Wohler), Marmelo (Hughie Morrison), Johannes Vermeer, Wicklow Brave (Willie Mullins), Francis of Assisi (Charlie Appleby), Qewy (Charlie Appleby) and Wall of Fire (Hugo Palmer) have all accepted for the Melbourne Cup.
All five international horses scheduled to arrive in Melbourne this coming Saturday - Rekindling, US Army Ranger, Max Dynamite (Willie Mullins), Thomas Hobson (Willie Mullins) and Nakeeta (Iain Jardine) – are also included in the acceptance list.
With Order of St George withdrawn as expected, Godolphin’s stable star Hartnell is now the highest weighted acceptor with 57.5kg in his attempt to improve on his third place finish in the 2016 Melbourne Cup.
New Zealand star Gingernuts has been withdrawn after his preparation was impacted by the cancellation of the Group 1 Livamol Classic in New Zealand last weekend.
CLICK TO VIEW EMIRATES MELBOURNE CUP FIRST ACCEPTANCES
CLICK TO VIEW EMIRATES MELBOURNE CUP ORDER OF ENTRY
Almandin (GER), picture Quentinjlang.com
$3.15 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) – Caulfield, Saturday, 21 October
Second acceptances were taken for the Caulfield Cup, with 36 horses paid up for the $3.15 million feature, including six for Australia’s leading trainer Darren Weir.
Weir’s contingent is headlined by Humidor, who sits atop an updated Order of Entry released by RV, and Admire Deus (seventh), while Amelie’s Star has not yet secured a start having moved to 23rd in the order following acceptances.
James Cummings has accepted with top weight Hartnell (fourth), who finished off a strong 2000m behind highly-fancied New Zealand mare Bonneval (second) in the $750,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) last start, however he has withdrawn Tally who was guaranteed a start courtesy of his win in the 2017 Mornington Cup.
The Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Bonneval is one of three entered for the stable, together with Jon Snow (sixth) and Lizzie L’Amour (20th).
The horse which split Winx and Humidor in the Turnbull Stakes, Ventura Storm (15th), is one of eight second acceptors for the Lindsay Park team, which also includes Harlem who earned a ballot exemption into the race courtesy of his win in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) in September.
Seven internationals currently stabled at the Werribee International Horse Centre remain in the race including the Charlie Appleby-trained Francis of Assisi and Kidmenever, while Marmelo, Johannes Vermeer, Wall of Fire and the Mullins-trained duo of Wicklow Brave and Riven Light are the other internationals to accept.
CLICK TO VIEW BMW CAULFIELD CUP SECOND ACCEPTANCES
CLICK TO VIEW BMW CAULFIELD CUP ORDER OF ENTRY
$3.05 million Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) – The Valley, Saturday, 28 October
Two-time Cox Plate champion Winx, who won her 21st consecutive race at Flemington on Saturday, headlines 36 second acceptors for the Cox Plate – up from 29 in 2016.
Her trainer, Chris Waller, has a race high six horses among the third acceptors including Group 1-winning mare Egg Tart, while the Lindsay Park stable is next best represented with four acceptors.
Last year’s runner-up Hartnell and last weekend’s Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) winner Happy Clapper both remain in contention for a second consecutive Cox Plate start, while Almandin, Gingernuts and Humidor are among the other notable acceptors.
There are six Australian three-year-olds still entered – all of whom line up in Group 1 races at Caulfield this Saturday – headlined by the Lindsay Park-trained filly Catchy and the Tony McEvoy-trained colt Royal Symphony.
Five internationals remain in contention for a start in the 28 October feature – up from two at the same time last year – including northern hemisphere three-year-old Taj Mahal (Aidan O’Brien), Johannes Vermeer, Kaspersky (Jane Chapple-Hyam), Folkswood (Charlie Appleby) and Riven Light.
CLICK TO VIEW LADBROKES COX PLATE THIRD ACCEPTANCES
$1 million Group 1 Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) – The Valley, Friday night, 27 October
A total of 39 horses remain in contention for the Manikato Stakes on night one of the Cox Plate Carnival following the closure of first acceptances today.
Among the headline acceptors are 16 Group 1 winners including Chautauqua (Team Hawkes), the Lindsay Park-trained duo Vega Magic and Redkirk Warrior and last start The Valley Group 1 winner She Will Reign (Gary Portelli).
Creating interest is the Aaron Purcell-trained Jukebox – the lone three-year-old within the second acceptors for the $1 million sprint, while the notable withdrawals were Le Romain, The Quarterback and Brave Smash.
CLICK TO VIEW LADBROKES MANIKATO STAKES FIRST ACCEPTANCES
$350,000 Group 3 Ladbrokes Caulfield Classic (2000m) – Caulfield, Saturday, 21 October
Second acceptances also closed today for the $350,000 Group 3 Ladbrokes Caulfield Classic (2000m), with 34 horses still in contention.
Among the notable acceptors are leading AAMI Victoria Derby contenders Main Stage and Tavistock Abbey, along with Royal Symphony and Catchy.
CLICK TO VIEW LADBROKES CAULFIELD CLASSIC SECOND ACCEPTANCES