Cross Counter

Heavyweight stayers remain in line for Lexus Melbourne Cup

A total of 80 stayers – including 19 trained internationally – remain in contention to land Australian racing’s greatest prize after the first acceptance stage for the Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) closed at 12pm today.

As expected, Charlie Appleby’s defending champion Cross Counter has retained his place in the entry list alongside stablemate Ispolini and three gallopers from Aidan O’Brien’s famous Ballydoyle stables – Hunting Horn, Il Paradiso and Magic Wand.

Currently housed in quarantine facilities in the UK and Ireland, they will arrive in Melbourne next Saturday (12 October) to begin their assault on Victoria’s Spring Racing Carnival, which this year offers in excess of $102 million in prizemoney and bonuses.

The $8 million Melbourne Cup, which will be run at Flemington on Tuesday, 5 November, has also attracted a stellar cast of locally-trained gallopers including Steel Prince (Anthony Freedman), who is guaranteed a start in the ‘race that stops a nation’ after winning the ballot-exempt The Andrew Ramsden (2800m) in May.

The first lady of Australian racing, Gai Waterhouse, who is seeking a second Melbourne Cup triumph after Fiorente’s win in 2013, has accepted with Japanese imports Hush Writer and Wolfe, plus their home-bred stablemate Just Thinkin’ – the sole three-year-old entrant in the race.

Surprise Baby, who will attempt to win his way into the Melbourne Cup with victory in The Bart Cummings (2500m) this Saturday at Flemington, is another leading Australasian contender while Torcedor – set to join Surprise Baby at Paul Preusker’s Horsham stable once he has completed quarantine – will come into consideration if he can recapture his best European form.

Other notable acceptors include Constantinople, formerly trained by O’Brien but now under the care of the Lindsay Park training team of David Hayes, his son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig.

Constantinople, currently the bookmakers’ favourite, will bid to continue the recent run of success for northern hemisphere three-year-olds, after Cross Counter (2018) and Rekindling (2017) took out the last two editions of the Melbourne Cup.

Other horses prominent in the betting markets who have also accepted include British import Finche, a last-start Group 3 winner in Sydney for leading trainer Chris Waller and Australian Bloodstock’s Ebor Handicap winner Mustajeer, who will join Kris Lees’ stable once he has completed his mandatory post-arrival quarantine at Racing Victoria’s Werribee International Horse Centre.

Last year’s Melbourne Cup placegetters Marmelo (Hughie Morrison) and Prince of Arran (Charlie Fellowes) are also among the notable acceptors.    

To view the full list of first acceptors for the Melbourne Cup, please click here

To view the updated Order of Entry for the Melbourne Cup, please click here