Irish St Leger Winner Still Royal Cup Chance

In a nice boost for Racing Victoria, the Johnny Murtagh-trained Irish St Leger winner Royal Diamond was one of seven international 2013 Caulfield Cup first acceptances taken on Tuesday.

A total of 98 staying types remain in contention for this year’s $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m), run on Saturday October 19, seven of which are prepared in the northern hemisphere.

One of the big name overseas raiders still in the mix is King’s Best gelding Royal Diamond, winner of the Group 1 Irish St Leger (2816m) last September at the Curragh when prepared by Thomas Carmody.

They are now under the care of jockey cum trainer John Murtagh, for which they’ve had four starts including two black type wins.

Their most recent was a half-length victory carrying a hefty 62.5kg in the Group 3 Irish St Leger Trial Stakes (2816m) on August 24.

Royal Diamond was accepted at first declaration stage by connections for the Caulfield Cup despite having also been entered for a St Leger title defense this weekend which would rule them out of a shot in the Caulfield classic due to quarantine requirements.

“Johnny Murtagh, the trainer and rider of Royal Diamond, has advised me that he is now considering a trip to Australia for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups rather than defending his Irish St Leger crown this weekend,” RV International Recruitment Officer, Leigh Jordon, said on Racing Victoria yesterday.

“The quarantine requirements mean he would be unable to do both so he will review the acceptances and advise me within the next 48 hours of his decision.

“Certainly it would be a coup for Caulfield if the Irish St Leger winner chose to compete in their race.”

Their main aim should they continue with plans to travel down under for the spring will then be the iconic $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington for which they were nominated for last week.

Another surprise international Caulfield Cup first acceptor on Tuesday was progressive French stayer Now We Can, owned by the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s chief executive Winfried Englebrecht-Bresges.

Connections of the Nicolas Clement-trained stallion, like those for Royal Diamond, had earlier advised Racing Victoria that they would not be continuing with Caulfield Cup plans making their acceptance a nice surprise for the racing club.

Now We Can was in flying form with three straight wins last season including a Group 2 Prix De Chantilly (2400m) success in June.

They were seemingly ruled out of a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival bid however when well beaten first-up finishing ninth to Tres Blue in the Gorup 2 Prix De Deuaville (2500m).

In a side note the now Gai Waterhouse-trained import Tres Blue was a late entry for the 2013 Melbourne Cup this week.

The Melbourne Cup however would not be on the cards for Now We Can whose sole aim should they travel down under would be the Caulfield Cup.

“Now We Can has won five of his seven starts and is an emerging star that we were eager to get to Melbourne,” Jordon said.

“After his last start defeat we expected that the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival was a more likely option, but we are pleased that connections are now reconsidering this year’s Carnival.

“He has not been entered for the Melbourne Cup so if he does come the Caulfield Cup would be his primary target, with a trip onto Hong Kong for their international meeting in December a possibility given his ownership. We will have a firm answer in the next 48 hours.”

The five other international Caulfield Cup hopes still in the mix are then the Marco Botti-trained American St Leger winner Dandino, 2011 Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux who was also runner-up in the Dubai World Cup recently, William MullinsSimenon and last start Glorious Stakes winner Forgotten Voice who is actually a regular mount for Murtagh.

The next round of Caulfield Cup acceptances will take place on September 24.

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