Countdown to Spring majors continues with second acceptances

The countdown to a quartet of the 2021 Spring Racing Carnival’s biggest races has continued today with second acceptances taken for the Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup (2400m), Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m), Neds Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m).

Reigning Caulfield Cup champion Verry Elleegant, who on the weekend landed the ninth Group 1 victory of her illustrious career, is one of 72 second acceptors for the 2021 edition to be held on Saturday, 16 October.

She is also one of 40 second acceptors for the Cox Plate to be run at The Valley on Saturday, 23 October, along with Sir Dragonet who claimed the historic 100th edition of Australasia’s weight-for-age championship in 2020.

Joining them among the second acceptors for the pair of $5 million races is ruling Caulfield Cup favourite, the Peter Moody-trained Incentivise, who secured his maiden Group 1 in the Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington 10 days ago.

Also among the headline acceptors for the Cox Plate is dominant favourite Zaaki who will make his Victorian debut in the $1 million Quayclean Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Ladbrokes Park (Sandown) this Saturday.

Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup (2400m) – Caulfield, 16 October

Only three of the top 40 ranked horses following last week’s release of weights did not feature among today’s 72 second acceptors for the Caulfield Cup. They were Mo’unga, who features among the Cox Plate acceptors; Spirit Ridge; and Inspirational Girl who has suffered a setback and is out of the spring.

Following the weekend’s racing, the Grahame Begg-trained Nonconformist has joined Mount Popa as the ballot exempt runners among the acceptance list courtesy of his win in the Group 3 MRC Foundation Cup (2000m) at Caulfield Cup.

Racing Victoria (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, has elected not to penalise Nonconformist in the Caulfield Cup where he will carry 51.5kg, with the horse not among the entries for the Lexus Melbourne Cup.

High class international Spanish Mission, who is due to arrive in Melbourne on Saturday, is among the second acceptors with news today that two-time winner Craig Williams is booked to ride the Andrew Balding-trained raider in the Caulfield Cup. 

Other leading contenders who remain in line for an assault on the 144th edition of the Caulfield Cup include a string of classy mares in Colette (James Cummings), Montefilia (David Payne), Hungry Heart (Chris Waller), Duais (Edward Cummings) and She’s Ideel (Bjorn Baker), who could not be re-handicapped following her win in Saturday’s Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) at Randwick.

With an updated Order of Entry released today also, Montefilia currently has the final place in the starting line-up of 18 with a ballot exemption on offer for the winner of this weekend’s Underwood Stakes where 2020 Caulfield Cup placegetter and second acceptor The Chosen One is among the entries. 

One mover of note within the Order of Entry is Newcastle Cup (2300m) winner Great House who has risen to 53rd after passing the ballot with Friday’s Group 3 victory. The horse remains on the limit weight of 50kg though with Carpenter electing not to penalise the import for his Newcastle triumph.

Third acceptances for the Caulfield Cup will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 5 October.



Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) – The Valley, 23 October

The Cox Plate continues to loom large as the much-anticipated showdown between star gallopers Verry Elleegant and Zaaki with the high-profile duo headlining today’s 40 acceptors. 

They are among 19 Group 1 winners who remain in contention for The Valley's marquee race, alongside horses such as defending champion Sir Dragonet, Incentivise, Mo’unga, Homesman, New Zealand pair Probabeel and Callsign Mav, and Saturday’s Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) winner Sierra Sue.

Northern Hemisphere three-year-old State of Rest, a last start Group 1 Saratoga Derby winner in the USA, and last year’s Arc De Triomphe fourth placegetter Gold Trip, both of whom are scheduled to arrive in Melbourne on Saturday, also feature among the acceptances, as does Japanese Group 1 winner Keiai Nautique.

A total of 12 southern hemisphere three-year-olds still have the opportunity to claim the crown of Australia’s weight-for-age star off the older horses. They include Anamoe, Artorious, Captivant, Giannis, Lightsaber and the sole remaining filly Mac ‘N’ Cheese.

The notable withdrawals today owing to setbacks or alternate targets being sought were Ayrton, Behemoth, Converge, Tofane and Think It Over. 

Third acceptances for the Cox Plate will be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 5 October.


Neds Caulfield Guineas (1600m) – Caulfield, 9 October

The $2 million Neds Caulfield Guineas is Australia’s premier three-year-old mile and the headline among three Group 1 races on the opening day of the 2021 Caulfield Cup Carnival.

A total of 47 horses feature among today’s second acceptances – the same number as 2020 – including Group 1 winning juveniles Anamoe, Artorious and Captivant, together with Magic Millions winner Shaquero.

Among others still vying for the coveted prize are Saturday’s Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) winner Lightsaber, Exford Plate (1400m) winner Mr Mozart, BTC Sires Produce (1400m) winner Tiger of Malay, and an array of talent from the Chris Waller stable including Giannis, Home Affairs and Ranch Hand.

The notable withdrawals include Golden Slipper winner Stay Inside, Ingratiating, Converge, In The Congo and Jigsaw, with a number of non-acceptors turning their focus to the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on 30 October.

Final acceptances for the Caulfield Guineas will be taken at 9am (AET) on Tuesday, 5 October. The final late entry deadline is at 12pm (AET) on Monday, 4 October.


Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) – Caulfield, 13 October

The $1 million Schweppes Thousand Guineas is Australia’s richest mile race for three-year-old fillies and returns to its traditional home on the Wednesday of the Caulfield Cup Carnival.

It has attracted 44 second acceptors headlined by the unbeaten Anthony and Sam Freedman-trained filly Zouzarella who retains clear favouritism.

Joining her in the entries is Saturday’s Group 2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) winner Bon’s A Pearla with the owners of the Kevin Corstens-trained filly paying the $27,500 late entry.

Other high profile second acceptors were the Sydney fillies Mallory, Swift Witness and She’s All Class, the talented Mac ‘N’ Cheese, and Heresy – one of four acceptors for James Cummings and Godolphin.

Today’s notable withdrawals were Larkspur Run, Queen of Wizardry and stablemates Najmaty and Latin Blend. 

Final acceptances for the Thousand Guineas will be taken at 9am (AET) on Monday, 11 October with the final late entry deadline closing one hour prior.