Cleveland receives Melbourne Cup penalty after memorable first Australian win

Racing Victoria (RV) Head of Handicapping, David Hegan, has announced that Friday’s Ladbrokes Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m) winner Cleveland has received a 0.5kg penalty in the $8.4 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) for his Group 2 victory. 

The Kris Lees-trained six-year-old, originally from Ireland, has been lifted from the weight of 51.5kg to 52kg after posting his first Australian win from seven attempts. 

The penalty has seen the Lloyd and Nick Williams co-owned entire leap from 24th to 14th in the Melbourne Cup Order of Entry which has been updated following today’s third acceptance deadline.

Hegan explained: “Aided by a perfectly positioned and timed ride by James McDonald, Cleveland was produced late to overhaul Vow and Declare and Future History who were gallant in defeat after both making sustained runs.

“Under the set weights and penalty conditions of the Moonee Valley Gold Cup, Cleveland was allocated the base weight on Friday night. Thus, he came in well at the weights against some of his opposition on the night and compared to where they are in the Melbourne Cup weights. 

“Vow and Declare and Future History will now meet Cleveland 0.5kg and 3kg better respectively in the Melbourne Cup after the penalty. If the luckless Athabascan makes the field it would be a 3.5kg turnaround in his favour against Cleveland too.

“The last penalty given to a Moonee Valley Gold Cup winner was back in 2015 when The United States moved to 52.5kg with a 2.5kg penalty. The quantum of any penalty though is about where it takes a horse in the weights order relative to those it is competing against.”

A total of 32 horses remain in the hunt for a spot among the final field of 24 at Flemington on Tuesday, 7 November 2023 after third acceptances were taken at 10am (AEDT) today (Monday, 30 October).

Matthew Smith’s Sydney Cup runner-up True Marvel currently sits in 24th position, although he can be squeezed out with Saturday’s Lexus Archer Stakes (2500m) at Flemington offering the winner a golden ticket if among the third acceptors.

In addition, two Melbourne Cup third acceptors, Hasta La War (29th) and Interpretation (31st), will be out to further their claims in the $500,000 Apiam Animal Health Bendigo Cup (2400m) this Wednesday (1 November). 

Click here to view the updated Lexus Melbourne Cup Order of Entry as at 30 October 2023.