This week nominations were taken and the early betting markets opened for the 2010 $1 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m), the highly anticipated weight-for-age event held at the famous Flemington racecourse on March 6 as part of the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival.
There were some surprise absentees from the list of 46 nominees including the Mark Kavanagh-trained Whobegotyou, Peter G Moody’s mare Typhoon Tracy and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Theseo.
Whobegotyou is skipping the Australian Cup and other Melbourne races in favour of a longer rest before the dual Group 1 winner makes his assault on the later Sydney autumn features.
Kavanagh, however, still has a strong Australian Cup contender nominated, his 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Shocking.
Already Shocking is one of the hot favourites to take out the Australian Cup, tied for favouritism at $5 with 2008 Melbourne Cup champion Viewed.
If Shocking pulls out a quality finish in the Australian Cup, it will ensure he moves on to the coveted Sheema Classic at Dubai’s Wold Cup fixture.
Legendary trainer Bart Cummings has four nominees including Viewed and 2008 Australian Cup winner Sirmione who has his first start in 11 months. Cummings’ other two entrants are Roman Emperor and Moatize as the trainer chases his 14th Australian Cup.
Other classy gallopers nominated include early second-favourite with the bookies Speed Gifted, Victoria Derby runner-up Extra Zero, Irish import Changingoftheguard, Vigor, Perth Racing champion Sniper’s Bullet and El Segundo.
Changingoftheguard is one of eight entries for trainer David Hayes, an all-time record number of nominations for the event. Hayes is attempting back-to-back success in the race following his win with Niconero last year.
Saturday’s Listed Chester Manifold Stakes at Flemington is the first feature race on the preparatory campaign for many of the Australian Cup hopefuls including six-year-old Pacino and the David Hayes-trained Zagreb, who finished third in the Australian Cup last year.
First declarations for the Australian Cup are on Tuesday 16 February at 12 noon with final declarations at 9am on Wednesday March 3.