The depth of the upcoming 152nd Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) is best depicted by the quality of horses that are currently outside the top 24 in the order of entry.
France’s Sportingbet Herbert Power Stakes winner Shahwardi (29th), England’s Centrebet Geelong Cup winner Gatewood (33rd) and locally trained Drake International Cup winner Vatuvei (34th) are last start feature winners who are not yet guaranteed a start in tomorrow week’s $6.2 million feature.
The updated Melbourne Cup order of entry, which was released this afternoon following second acceptances, shows three other internationally-trained entrants, Lost In The Moment (26th), Brigantin (27th) and Ibicenco (37th), are currently parked outside the starting line-up.
Saturday’s Group 1 Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) and Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington both provide the winner a ballot exemption in the Cup, an opportunity which Niwot used to effect last year leaping from 33rd after second acceptances to secure a Cup start and ultimately finish eighth.
Of those outside the top 24, Gatewood and Moudre (25th) are nominated for both features, French import Prairie Star (28th) is entered for the Mackinnon only, whilst Ibicenco, Tanby (31st) and Exceptionally (36th) are amongst a number of contenders hoping to further their claims through the Lexus.
The connections of those not engaged in either the Mackinnon or Lexus, like international raiders Lost In The Moment, Brigantin and Shahwardi, will be reliant upon attrition amongst the higher ranked entrants to obtain a run.
Looking to history for inspiration, the 28th ranked horse after second acceptances in 2011 was the final horse to secure a berth in last year’s Cup.
Final acceptances for the Melbourne Cup will be taken at 5pm on Saturday.
Updated order of entry