The contenders for this month’s $5 million feature races, the Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m), have taken further shape with the next round of acceptances taken today by Racing Victoria.
A total of 45 horses remain in pursuit of Spring Racing Carnival glory in the Stella Artois Caulfield Cup on Saturday week, 19 October at Caulfield. With a starting line-up of 18 plus four emergencies, the race to secure a start in the world’s richest 2400m handicap will be an anxious one for many connections.
The Cox Plate, to be run at The Valley on Saturday, 26 October, has attracted 35 third acceptors – up from 25 last year when subsequent four-time champion Winx scared off many rivals – including horses from Japan, England, Ireland and New Zealand.
First acceptances also closed today for the $1 million Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) at The Valley on Friday night, 26 October with 29 horses remaining in contention.
$5 million Group 1 Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) – Caulfield, Saturday, 19 October
Second acceptances were taken today for the Stella Artois Caulfield Cup, with the number of horses paid up numbering 45.
Included amongst the acceptances are nine internationally-trained horses currently stabled at the TAB International Horse Centre, including the bookmakers’ favourite for the world’s richest turf handicap over 2400m, Japanese stayer Mer De Glace (Hisashi Shimizu).
After today’s deadline, Mer De Glace is one of only two international raiders currently inside the top 18, with the Richard Hannon-trained Raymond Tusk occupying position 18 in the revised Order of Entry. Fellow UK-trained visitors Gold Mount (Ian Williams) and Red Verdon (Ed Dunlop) are on the cusp at 19th and 20th respectively.
Joining Mer De Glance and Raymond Tusk in the top 18 at this time are a trio of imports that will move to Australian stables upon completion of their quarantine this Saturday in Mirage Dancer (Natalie Young and Trent Busuttin, seventh), Mustajeer (Kris Lees, 10th) and Constantinople (Lindsay Park, 13th) with the latter to gallop at Caulfield on Saturday ahead of his bid to become the first northern hemisphere three-year-old to win the $5 million showpiece.
The three ballot exempt runners are Kings Will Dream (Chris Waller), who made a stunning comeback in last week’s Group 1 TAB Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington; his stablemate and fellow European import Brimham Rocks; and David Brideoake’s versatile galloper Self Sense, who secured his place in the race courtesy of victory in the Listed Ladbrokes Mornington Cup (2400m).
Waller has the highest number of runners inside the all-important top 18 with four, including last-start winner Verry Elleegant and Finche, prominent in the betting markets after running Kings Will Dream very close in the Turnbull Stakes.
A notable withdrawal from the race was Björn Baker’s in-form galloper Samadoubt and Paul Preusker’s Surprise Baby, who will focus on the Melbourne Cup after winning his way in last Saturday via The Bart Cummings.
Final acceptances for the Caulfield Cup will be taken at 4.30pm (AEDT) on Wednesday, 16 October following the running of the Coongy Handicap (2000m) at Caulfield. The field will be released and barrier draw conducted on-course shortly thereafter.
CLICK TO VIEW STELLA ARTOIS CAULFIELD CUP SECOND ACCEPTANCES
CLICK TO VIEW STELLA ARTOIS CAULFIELD CUP ORDER OF ENTRY
$5 million Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) – The Valley, Saturday, 26 October
A record nine internationally-trained horses remain among the 35 third acceptors for the Ladbrokes Cox Plate including invited runners Danceteria (David Menuisier, UK), Lys Gracieux (Yoshito Yahagi, Japan) and Kluger (Tomokazu Takano, Japan).
Ireland’s 2014 Cox Plate winning-trainer Aidan O’Brien has kept Magic Wand and Hunting Horn in the race, while his son Joseph has accepted with a trio of Lloyd Williams-owned runners in Latrobe, Master of Reality and Twilight Payment.
Williams also has paid up for the Liam Howley-trained pair Homesman and Yucatan, with the former one of several horses eligible for a $1 million bonus alongside Gatting (Darren McAuliffe), Harlem (Lindsay Park), Kings Will Dream and early favourite Mystic Journey (Adam Trinder).
Other notable entries include Godolphin-owned star Avilius (James Cummings), boom Kiwi galloper Te Akau Shark (Jamie Richards), Team Hayes import Cape of Good Hope and Verry Elleegant.
Five three-year-olds remain among the acceptors in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas (1600m) contenders Dalasan (Leon Macdonald and Andrew Gluyas) and Yourdeel (Lindsay Park), Sydney’s Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) entrants Castelvecchio (Richard Litt) and Quick Thinker (Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman), and Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) favourite Flit (James Cummings).
As announced yesterday, New Zealand horse of the year Melody Belle (Jamie Richards) has been withdrawn to target the Group 1 Empire Rose (1600m) at Flemington on 2 November, while other notable withdrawals are Cups contenders Finche, Mirage Dancer and Vow And Declare (Danny O’Brien).
Final acceptances for the Cox Plate will be taken at 8.30am (AEDT) on Tuesday, 22 October with the field to be released and barrier draw conducted shortly thereafter.
CLICK TO VIEW LADBROKES COX PLATE THIRD ACCEPTANCES
$1 million Group 1 Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) – The Valley, Friday night, 25 October
The Group 1 Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes, the second of two $1 million sprints run under lights at The Valley during the Spring Racing Carnival, has drawn 29 second acceptors.
Nature Strip, the horse that won the first of those sprints, the Moir Stakes (1000m) on 27 September, remains among three contenders for the Waller stable alongside Zousain and Yes Yes Yes.
The latter is one of five three-year-olds among today’s first acceptors alongside James Cummings’ Group 1-winning colts Bivouac and Microphone, and the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained pair Dubious and the sole filly, late entrant Loving Gaby.
Cummings has a race-high five acceptors including Alizee and Trekking, however he has withdrawn Osborne Bulls after the horse was reported to be lame following his weekend resumption in Sydney.
Everest hopefuls that remain among the Manikato Stakes acceptors are Santa Ana Lane (Anthony Freedman), In Her Time (Kris Lees) and the sole international entrant, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Ten Sovereigns.
Other notable acceptors are 2017 winner Hey Doc (Tony and Calvin McEvoy) and New Zealand star The Bostonian (Tony Pike), who are among 12 Group 1 winners to remain.
Outside Osborne Bulls, the notable withdrawals were Graff (Kris Lees), Eduardo (Sarah Zschoke) and a group of three-year-olds targeting other features during the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival in Flit and Exhilarates (James Cummings), Lyre (Anthony Freedman) and Kubrick (Chris Waller).
Final acceptances for the Manikato Stakes will close at 8.30am (AEDT) on Tuesday, 22 October with the field to be released and the barrier draw conducted shortly thereafter.
CLICK TO VIEW LADBROKES MANIKATO STAKES FIRST ACCEPTANCES