Sixty horses remain for the $8m, Group 1 Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday, November 2nd race after third acceptances closed on Tuesday.
Defending champion Twilight Payment (IRE), who arrived in Australia over the weekend, and pre-race favourite Incentivise head the contenders.
Incentivise, who goes for his third straight Group 1 win in the Carlton Draught Caulfield Cup (2400m) this Saturday, will be bidding to become only the 12th horse in history – and the first since Ethereal in 2001 – to claim the coveted cups double.
Peter Moody’s progressive star has the Joseph O’Brien-trained Twilight Payment, Spanish Mission (Andrew Balding) and Away He Goes (Ismail Mohammed) all intent on continuing Europe’s recent dominance of Australia’s great race.
That trio are currently in quarantine in the TAB Werribee International Horse Centre alongside Sir Lucan (IRE), who has moved up to 40th place in the Melbourne Cup Order of Entry for the training team of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott. The first lady of Australian racing has also accepted with the 2021 Lexus Brisbane Cup (3200m) winner Knights Order (IRE), who currently occupies 24th place in the Order of Entry.
Delphi (IRE) adn Damien Oliver winning the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday, picture Racing Photos
Delphi (IRE) shot into calculations with his win in last Saturday’s Group 2 Neds Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) – for which he was penalised 1kg – and the Freedman Racing-trained stayer remains on course to take his place in the field for Flemington’s flagship event alongside his stablemate Realm Of Flowers, the ballot-exempt winner of The Andrew Ramsden (2800m) in May.
Another horse guaranteed a start in the Cup is Grand Promenade (GB), who claimed a golden ticket courtesy of his dominant display in The Lexus Bart Cummings (2520m). The British import is one of 10 third acceptors from the training team of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, with reigning Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) champion Sir Dragonet (IRE), Gold Trip (FR), Explosive Jack (NZ) and Persan all assured a start at this stage.
Chris Waller is chasing a first win in the race and he will hope either reigning Victorian Racehorse of the Year Verry Elleegant (NZ), Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) winner Selino (GB) or recent Kiwi arrival Ocean Billy (NZ) can deliver on the biggest stage of them all.
Herbert Power Stakes runner-up The Chosen One (NZ), who performed so well for Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman in both the 2020 Caulfield Cup (third) and Melbourne Cup (fourth), will be aiming to carry the same form into this year’s contests; whilst Baker’s son Bjorn is set to be represented by She’s Ideel, a recent winner of the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m).
Tralee Rose (NZ), currently 27th in the Order of Entry, could sneak into the field to give Warrnambool trainer Symon Wilde his first taste of the Melbourne Cup; whilst the inclusion of Johnny Get Angry (NZ) provides an opportunity for Denis Pagan to write another chapter in his fairy-tale story.
Four horses that had occupied a place in the top 24 of the Order of Entry have been withdrawn at the third acceptances stage. They are: Colette (trained by James Cummings), Hungry Heart (Chris Waller), Spirit Ridge (GB) (Mark Newnham) and Angel Of Truth (Team Hawkes).
The Group 3 Lexus Hotham Handicap (2500m), which takes place at Flemington on Saturday, 30 October, is the final ballot-exempt race for the Melbourne Cup.
The full list of third acceptances for the Lexus Melbourne Cup
The updated Melbourne Cup Order of Entry