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Maestro trainer Bart Cummings nominated just five stayers from his Flemington stables for the 2011 Melbourne Cup when entries for the iconic spring showdown closed on Thursday, German import Illo adding interest to the Cups King’s attempt at collecting an unprecedented 13th Loving Trophy this November.
Cummings, 83, already has his position as Australia’s leading trainer of Melbourne Cup winners firmly cemented having prepared 11 individual winners for a total of 12 Melbourne Cup victories over his illustrious career that started as being a strapper for his father and fellow great trainer Jim Cummings.
Not only has Cummings been in the winner’s stall at Flemington for the Melbourne Cup a dozen times, but on five of those occasions he also prepared the Melbourne Cup runner-up.
In total Cummings has saddled up 78 Melbourne Cup runners, his last victory in the ‘race that stops a nation’ being with Viewed in 2008.
His other Melbourne Cup winners were Light Fingers (1965), Galilee (1966), Red Handed (1967), Think Big (1974 & 1975), Gold And Black (1977), Hyperno (1979), Kingston Rule (1990), Let’s Elope (1991), Saintly (1996) and Rogan Josh (1999).
With retirement from the training game looming for Cummings, this year could possibly be his final chance of collecting a baker’s dozen of Melbourne Cup trophies to his impressive collection.
The most interesting nominee for Cummings in the $6.2 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), this year’s 151st edition of the race to run on Tuesday November 1, is undoubtedly Illo.
The Tertullian six-year-old stallion is due to arrive in Australia on September 24, the German Group 3 winner having started 13 times to date for a solid record of five wins and five minor placings.
Cummings has had an eye on the preparation of Illo in Europe since the horse was purchased by Richard Pegum.
Pegum, owner of former Melbourne Cup winner Brew (2000), also has part-shares in a number of this year’s leading spring candidates including the Chris Waller-trained My Kingdom Of Fife who resumes this Saturday in the $175,000 Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm.
“He was prepared by a private trainer over there (in Europe) and if Mr Cummings can’t improve him, then I’m a bad judge,” Pegum said of Illo.
“I rang Bart and asked him if he had a Melbourne Cup horse this year.
“He said ‘maybe’ and I told him well you have now.”
Illo’s maximum distanced win to date is only 2400 metres, but they will get their chance to prove their claims at the two-miles throughout the spring with Cummings firstly earmarking the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 for Illo.
Updated Melbourne Cup 2011 odds at Luxbet following Thursday’s nominations have Illo rated a $41 chance.
The shortest-priced of Cummings’ contingent is Precedence at $26, the well-known son of Zabeel having run eighth behind Americain in the Melbourne Cup last year on the back of a good victory in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m).
Cummings’ three other gallopers in contention for a Melbourne Cup bid, all triple-figure roughies at Luxbet, are Starcraft four-year-old Cosmonaut ($201) still a maiden after seven career starts, five-year-old Fusaichi Pegasus gelding Pegembak ($301) and last-start Rosehill winner Tamanu Park ($301).
All three are yet to pass the first elimination clause for a start in the Melbourne Cup field, limited to 24 starters.
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Emirates Melbourne Cup late entries close on Thursday September 8 followed by first declarations on Tuesday October 4.
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