While the race is on for horses to secure their spot in the 24-horse 2012 Melbourne Cup field, final acceptances closing at 4:30pm (AEST) today, there will be a consolation bonus prize on offer in next Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes for those stayers that fail to make the cut.
In what is shaping up to be the strongest and most intriguing edition of the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) in the race’s 152-year history, this year there is a real log-jam of talent fighting it out for the final few spots in the field.
The class and quantity of the overseas Melbourne Cup raiders this year is second to none according to Racing Victoria’s international talent scout Leigh Gordon who rated it the best since the ‘race that stops a nation’ received its first international starter back in 1993.
“We have two past winners (Americain & Duanden) in the race and another who was beaten by an inch last year (Red Cadeaux),” he said.
“We have two internationally group-performed stayers as well and the depth of the middle order is amazing.
“I know some owners and trainers from both here and overseas will have their dreams shattered by not making the race, but when you have such a competitive field like this, someone has to miss out,” Jordon said.
In the pre-Derby Day Melbourne Cup odds at bookmaker.com.au overseas-trained horses occupied the first four lines of betting, 2010 champ Americain the $6 favourite over the defending winner Dunaden ($7.50).
There are also plenty of overseas hopes that are likely to miss out on a start this year including Geelong Cup winner Gatewood (33rd) who failed to win today’s Lexus Stakes.
As a consolation for horses like Gatewood that fail to gain a start in the Cup, Racing Victoria are offering $100,000 bonus to all eligible Melbourne Cup entries that miss out on a run and go onto win the $250,000 Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day.
It should be a supercharged showdown too with other non-Melbourne Cup entries including Naturalism Stakes winner Folding Gear and Bendigo Cup champ Puissance De Lune set to target the 2012 Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
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