Countdown continues to spring majors after third acceptances close today

Boom horse Incentivise remains a possibility to complete a clean sweep of the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival’s flagship races after his connections chose to keep him amongst the entrants for both the Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup (2400m) and the Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m).

With third acceptances closing at 12pm (AEDT) today (Tuesday, 5 October), 31 horses remain in the hunt for the $5 million Group 1 Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup, held at Caulfield on Saturday, 16 October; whilst a total of 26 gallopers are still in contention to claim the $5 million Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate, which will be run at The Valley one week later.

Incentivise’s owners and trainer Peter Moody have understandably elected to keep their options open with Incentivise, the rising star of Australian racing who swept to his second straight Group 1 with victory in last Saturday’s TAB Turnbull Stakes (2000m).

The five-year-old gelding firmed into even money favouritism with some bookmakers for the Caulfield Cup after he extended his winning streak to eight races with a tough triumph over Young Werther, Danny O’Brien’s sole representative left in Caulfield Cup contention.

Former ATC Oaks (2400m) winner Colette was scratched from the Turnbull Stakes with a foot abscess, but her trainer James Cummings is hopeful the mare will have fully recovered from her minor setback in time to take her place in the race.

Another Group 1-winning mare, the David Payne-trained Montefilia, also still holds a Caulfield Cup entry and could pose a serious challenge to Incentivise should she maintain the form which saw her win The Metropolitan (2400m) under jockey Hugh Bowman last Saturday.

The horse she just pipped to the prize, Entente, could gain a measure of revenge in the Caulfield Cup if he can secure a start after his co-trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott elected to keep the five-year-old son of Dundeel in the acceptances list. He currently sits at 24th in the order of entry.

The powerful partnership of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace still have a quartet of Caulfield Cup contenders with Derby hero Explosive Jack and 2020 Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) fifth placegetter Persan both assured of a start.  Their stablemates High Emocean (27th) and Floating Artist (equal 29th) will need attrition or a victory in one of the remaining ballot exemption races to secure their berth alongside them.

Nonconformist is guaranteed a place in the field thanks to his last-start win in the Group 3 MRC Foundation Cup (2000m) for trainer Grahame Begg; but the other ballot-exempt horse, Listed Neds Mornington Cup (2400m) winner Mount Popa, will now not press onto the Caulfield Cup after below-par performances this preparation for Team Hawkes.

Other notable horses withdrawn at the third acceptances stage include Verry Elleegant (trained by Chris Waller) and Sir Dragonet (Maher-Eustace), with their connections opting to focus instead on the Cox Plate.

To view the full list of third acceptors for the Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup, please click here

To view the updated order of entry for the Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup, please click here

The prospect of a keenly-anticipated rematch between Incentivise and Verry Elleegant remains very much alive after both horses remained in the acceptances list for the Ladbrokes Cox Plate.

Incentivise claimed bragging rights after round one in the Turnbull Stakes, but Verry Elleegant could gain redemption – and a 10th Group 1 – should she land a fifth Cox Plate triumph in the last seven years for her trainer, Chris Waller.  

Waller’s three-pronged attack is completed by Giannis – one of six southern hemisphere three-year-olds left in the hunt – and Hungry Heart, one of 17 Group 1 winners still vying for Cox Plate glory.

That elite list includes the red-hot Cox Plate favourite Zaaki, the dominant Quayclean Underwood Stakes (1800m) winner who is expected to bring up a third Group 1 success in the Neds Might And Power (2000m) at Caulfield this Saturday.       

The 101st edition of the Cox Plate is expected to have international representation in the form of the Joseph O’Brien-trained State Of Rest, the northern hemisphere three-year-old who arrived in Australia last month and has since settled into his temporary home at the TAB Werribee International Horse Centre (WIHC). 

Imported galloper Gold Trip, who has joined the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable and is currently in quarantine at WIHC alongside State Of Rest, remains in contention to claim a second straight win in Australasia’s weight-for-age championship for his new trainers.

The reigning champion, Sir Dragonet, will bid to go back-to-back having claimed the 100th Cox Plate under Glen Boss last year. Several of Sir Dragonet’s connections also own a sizeable stake in fellow acceptor Sierra Sue, the Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young-trained mare who recently landed a first Group 1 in Australia for her jockey Daniel Moor in the Neds Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m).

As usual, New Zealand is set to have strong representation in this year’s Cox Plate courtesy of Jamie Richards’ magnificent mare Probabeel, and Callsign Mav, a winner of six races – including three at Group 1 level – for his Kiwi trainer John Bary.

Joining them among the third acceptors is fellow Kiwi galloper Elephant (Emma-Lee and David Browne) who will be out to further his claims and budding cult status at Caulfield on Saturday where he holds entries for two Group 1 races.

The Neds Caulfield Guineas (1600m) clash between Anamoe (James Cummings) and Artorius (Freedman Racing) this Saturday could also determine whether either three-year-old presses onto the Cox Plate.              

To view the full list of third acceptors for the Ladbrokes Cox Plate, please click here