Tuesday saw the nominations and second declarations for the illustrious Victorian Spring Carnival features close, shortening the final field possibilities for the year’s most anticipated races.
The coveted Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate boast slightly higher numbers this year than at the same stage in 2008.
The 2009 BMW Caulfield Cup has 82 horses remaining in contention, including five international raiders. Guaranteed runners exempt from elimination for the $2.5 million race include Mark Kavanagh-trained Whobegotyou also free from ballot and current favourite for the Cox Plate, New Zealand raider Vigor, and the Naturalism Stakes winner Red Lord. Red Lord was re-handicapped following his Naturalism Stakes win, penalised with a 0.5kg addition taking his weight for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups to 51.5kg should he run. There are still 21 horses at this stage yet to qualify for start in the October 17 event.
After this elimination round, the Caulfield Cup field will be without the 2007 Melbourne Cup winner Efficient, US raider Black Mamba and mares Tuesday Joy and Typhoon Tracy.
A strong international presence is also still found in the nominations for the Tatts Cox Plate on 24 October. Three overseas horses, including Crime Scene and Kirklees from the famed Godolphin stable and Singapore’s star contender Jolie’s Shinju, are amongst the 58 remaining horses for the $3 million Moonee Valley race. Crime Scene and Kirklees are also still in contention for the Caulfield Cup along with their stablemate Sugar Ray, providing Godolphin with a chance at a second successive win in the race after their long-priced entry All The Good shot to victory last year.
As the number of entries tapers down, the ante-post betting action on the races is heating up. Punters are keener than ever to place their bets on the remaining contenders as the possibility of them getting a run in the elite carnival races increases.
Third declarations for both races will close on Tuesday 6 October at midday, as will the second declarations for this year’s illustrious Emirates Melbourne Cup.