With the countdown on for the 2011 Melbourne Cup at Flemington next Tuesday, the final field is beginning to take shape with the official withdrawal of two horses inside the top 24 on the order of entry – the Luca Cumani-trained Sahara Sun and the Lloyd Williams-owned Linton.
Chilean Derby runner-up Sahara Sun was 24th on the Melbourne Cup ballot, but esteemed European trainer Cumani has made the decision not to press onto the $6 million handicap after the raider’s disappointing eighth behind Tanby and At First Sight in the Bendigo Cup (2400m) on Wednesday.
Cumani still has three from his stables entered for the Cup with Drunken Sailor, Manighar and popular grey Bauer.
Both Drunken Sailor and Manighar are assured of a start while veteran nine-year-old Bauer, runner-up in the 2008 Melbourne Cup, was 29th on the order of entry before the two latest withdrawals.
2012 Melbourne Cup Odds
Futures all-in betting showing top 24 horses.
Despite still being on the verge of a start, Bauer is the shortest-priced of Cumani’s contingent in the Melbourne Cup odds at Luxbet paying $15.
Meanwhile leviathan racehorse owner Lloyd Williams has decided to bypass the Melbourne Cup with his Galileo five-year-old Linton who was found out over the two-miles last spring when finishing a distant 21st to Americain in the 150th edition of the Melbourne Cup.
Linton will still line-up on Melbourne Cup Day in one of the support races, likely to start as one of the Luxbet favourites for the $150,000 Listed Johnnie Walker Stakes (1800m).
Last seen finishing dead last in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 2, Linton was accepted to race at Victoria Derby Day on Saturday but has since been scratched from the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).
Williams still has an imposing hand to play in the race with Midas Touch, Mourayan, At First Sight, Tanby and Green Moon all in the mix.
Bendigo Cup winner Tanby was 32nd in the order of entry earlier today and is right on the cusp of a start as is Green Moon.
Green Moon races this Saturday in the $250,000 Group 3 The Lexus Stakes (2500m) vying for the Melbourne Cup ballot exemption on offer to the winner.
Meanwhile, the Gai Waterhouse-trained Tullamore has been scratched from The Lexus Stakes field with Waterhouse confident her Caulfield Cup third placegetter will make the cut.
Last seen finishing a brave second to Americain in the Moonee Valley Cup, Tullamore was formerly 25th on the Melbourne Cup ballot but with the two defectors on Friday now sits 23rd.
Tullamore is paying $21 in the Luxbet markets for the Melbourne Cup, a far more fancied runner than their stablemate Older Than Time who is a $101 roughie.
The news that Tullamore is now looking all but assured of a run in the country’s most esteemed staying event is sure to please rival trainer Peter Moody, who this week expressed his views clearly on this year’s Melbourne Cup order of entry.
“Tullamore has run placings in the Caulfield Cup and Moonee Valley Cup, but Gai has to back him up for a third successive Saturday in the Lexus Stakes tomorrow in a bid for the horse to make the Cup field,” Moody said on Friday.
“It’s just not fair. He’s still got to scrap to gain a start, while a number of lesser credentialed overseas horses are sitting pretty.”
The other notable stayer to benefit from the early Melbourne Cup defectors is the Chris Waller-trained The Verminator who is now inside the top 24.
At this stage the last-start Metropolitan Handicap winner is still set to contest the Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington on Saturday with their Melbourne Cup start hinging on a horse below them on the order of entry not winning either The Lexus or Mackinnon.
The Verminator is rated a $51 Melbourne Cup chance through Luxbet.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for more news and updates on the Melbourne Cup 2011.
Make sure you keep a close eye on the Melbourne Cup odds and betting at Luxbet leading up to the big day as well.
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