Following the close of third declarations for this year’s Melbourne Cup this morning, there are just 42 horses left in contention for a run in the Flemington feature on November 3. The declarations have halved the number of hopefuls, as there were 84 second acceptors.
With Racing Victoria still to announce the official order of entry, many of the big names are still fighting for their spot on the field.
Lee Freedman-trained Speed Gifted, coming off a devastating second last in last Saturday’s Cox Plate, is still in the race after connections paid up for The Metropolitan winner.
Irish import Changinofthguard, who was an uncertainty for the Melbourne Cup last week after developing a foot abscess that has since burst, has also met the third declaration stage with trainer David Hayes paying the fee. Hayes will announce on Wednesday whether he will run the four-year-old stallion in Melbourne Cup or take a start in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on Derby Day this Saturday instead.
If neither Freedman nor Hayes chose to run their entries, the Melbourne Cup will become a battle of the masters between the legendary trainer Bart Cummings and the prominent owner Lloyd Williams.
The Cups King, aiming at his incredible 13th Melbourne Cup victory and also attempting to become only the third trainer in history to win the Caulfield Cup/Cox Plate/Melbourne Cup treble, has three assured runners for the November showdown. Reigning Caulfield and Melbourne Cup champion Viewed, this year’s Caulfield Cup runner-up Roman Emperor and Toorka Handicap victor Allez Wonder are the three certainties for Cummings, who has also paid up for his lower ranked hopefuls, Think Money, Dandaad and Naval Escort. To meet the qualifications and make the 24 horse field all three need a win in this Saturday’s Group 3 Lexus (SAAB) Stakes (2500m).
Williams has 2007 Melbourne Cup winner Efficient, current equal favourite for this year’s race with Viewed and five-year-old Alcopop following the declarations. Cox Plate runner-up Zipping and C’est Le Guerre have also met third declaration stage by Williams.
Despite a shaky spring, Godolphin stable has paid up for both its international gallopers, Kirklees and Crime Scene. Kirklees failed to place in the Caulfield Cup while Crime Scene had a lacklustre run in the Geelong Cup earlier this season. However, the famous stable is hoping to make a spring comeback in the Melbourne Cup.
Frankie Dettori, ranked the number one jockey in the world, will add a certain fire to Kirklees Flemington run as the hoop is yet to win a Melbourne Cup despite 11 previous rides and is sure to be hungry for success this time round. While Kerrin McEvoy has booked the mount on Kirklee’s stablemate Crime Scene.
Other overseas raiders still in contention for Australia’s favourite race include Luca Cumani’s Basaltico and Cima De Triomphe. Cumani is another eager to finally bag a coveted Cup win after being runner-up for the past two years with Purple Moon and Bauer. Cima De Triomphe, however, is still unqualified for the race, the five-year-old needing to finish within the top three in this Saturday’s Mackinnon Stakes to ensure a start.
Controversial Chechan president Ramzan Kadyrov’s horse Mouilyan is also still in contention after its South African trainer Herman Brown paid up as did English trainer Ian Williams for Munsef.
Damien Oliver, Victoria’s number one hoop, is set to ride English import Warringah.
Horses out of Melbourne Cup contention after the third declaration stage include Whoebegotyou, the Cox Plate favourite finished a disappointing sixth on Saturday and will now be spelled. Vision And Power, Light Vision, Red Ruler and Ready To Lift have all also been dropped, despite Red Ruler and Ready to Lift having been quite high up in the order of entry. Gerald Ryan-trained Ready To Lift’s Melbourne Cup chances ended after the mare failed to place in the Moonee Valley Cup.