Racing Victoria (RV) on Wednesday released the Orders of Entry for the 2021 Victorian Spring Racing Carnival’s two premier handicaps, the $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) and the $5 million Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup (2400m).
The Team Hawkes-trained Mount Popa sits atop the Order of Entry for the 144th Caulfield Cup – to be run on Saturday, 16 October – courtesy of his win in the ballot exempt Mornington Cup earlier this year.
Defending champion Verry Elleegant (2nd) is next placed and one of three Chris Waller trained runners firmly inside the top 18 with ATC Oaks winner Hungry Heart (13th) and Queensland Derby winner Kukeracha (14th) both all but assured of starts.
The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable also have multiple runners guaranteed a start in Ladbrokes Cox Plate champion Sir Dragonet (3rd) and Explosive Jack (7th), whilst Queensland Oaks winner Duais (Edward Cummings) currently holds the coveted 18th spot.
Among the most notable horses down the Caulfield Cup Order of Entry who will require a standout performance and/or attrition to secure a start are Dawn Patrol (32nd), Tralee Rose (43rd), Port Guillaume (44th), Nonconformist (47th) and Grand Promenade (52nd).
The latter four are among a host of contenders who will line-up in Saturday’s Group 3 Catanach’s Jewellers MRC Foundation Cup (2000m) at Caulfield – one of six remaining ballot exemption races for the 2021 Caulfield Cup.
The Anthony and Sam Freedman trained Realm of Flowers sits atop the Order of Entry for the 161st Melbourne Cup at Flemington on 2 November courtesy of her win in May’s ballot exempt The Andrew Ramsden (2800m).
Verry Elleegant (2nd), reigning Melbourne Cup champion Twilight Payment (3rd), Irish St Leger winner Sonnyboyliston (4th) and Sir Dragonet round out the top five in the Order of Entry.
The 2019 champion Vow And Declare (11th) is one of three Danny O’Brien-trained runners in the top 24 with Moonee Valley Gold Cup winner Miami Bound (22nd) and ATC Derby runner-up Young Werther (24th) currently just inside the field for the Flemington trainer.
AFL coaching great Denis Pagan is assured of his first Melbourne Cup starter if Johnny Get Angry remains in good health with the 2020 Victoria Derby winner currently ranked 12th.
The foundations are also set for another fairytale story with the 12-time winner Bart Cummings’ grandsons James and Edward Cummings both assured of Cup starters with talented mares Colette (10th) and Duais (17th) respectively.
Some of the notable horses that are currently down the Order of Entry are the Lloyd Williams-owned third favourite Dawn Patrol (33rd), his stablemate Pondus (39th), Mount Popa (37th), and international pair Sir Lucan (49th) and Rodrigo Diaz (53rd).
Among those horses who are yet to pass the ballot for the Melbourne Cup but can jump straight into the top 24 should they do so are last start Group 2 mile winners in Think It Over (67th) and Superstorm (equal 68th).
Horses can satisfy the Melbourne Cup ballot clause by finishing in the top three in a Group race of 2300m or further; winning a Listed race of 2300m or further; finishing in the top eight in the Caulfield Cup; finishing in the top three in the Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on 23 October; or by winning the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on 2 October.
Horses can satisfy the Caulfield Cup ballot clause by finishing in the top three in a Group race of 1600m or further, or by winning a Listed race of 1600m or further.
There are four remaining ballot exemption races for the Melbourne Cup being The Bart Cummings (2500m) and Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on 2 and 30 October respectively, along with the winners of the Caulfield Cup and the Cox Plate.]
Second acceptances for the Caulfield Cup close at 12 noon (AEST) on Tuesday, 21 September, and a week later at 12 noon (AEST) on Tuesday, 28 September for the Melbourne Cup.