Today the first step towards the first Tuesday of November’s iconic Flemington race was made by the connections of the 148 horses nominated for the 2014 Melbourne Cup including 31 international raiders.
A record number of horses trained outside of Australia and New Zealand feature in the nominations for this year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m), set to run on November 4 when the entire nation stops for three to four minutes to watch the great two mile clash.
The Melbourne Cup field has been open to international interest right back in early history with gallopers imported by Australian connections to compete in the world’s richest handicap.
The first of these was Melbourne Cup was Comedy King (1910) when owner Sol Green imported the mare Tragedy Queen down under with the Persimmon colt Comedy King alongside.
There have however been only five official internationally-trained Melbourne Cup winners, excluding those from New Zealand, over the years with:
- Vintage Crop (Dermot K. Weld) – IRE
- Media Puzzle (Dermot K Weld) – IRE
- Delta Blues (2006) – JPN
- Americain (2010) – FRA
- Dunaden (2011) – FRA
Before Comedy King and looking at New Zealand horses, the first Kiwi-trained Melbourne Cup winner was Martini-Henry back in 1883, 22 years after the race’s inaugural edition in 1861.
Other early imported Melbourne Cup winners after Comedy King with international racing behind them included Backwood (1924), Belldale Ball (1980), At Talaq (1986) and Jeune (1994).
However the first official internationally-trained Melbourne Cup winner wasn’t until 1993 when Irish stayer Vintage Crop flew over a few weeks out from famous Flemington feature to win for trainer Dermot K Weld.
Of all the international Melbourne Cup winners, Vintage Crop is the only one so far not to have a final lead-up run in Australia.
Weld returned for another victory in 2002 with Media Puzzle before the wonderful Makybe Diva dominated the next three years, the mighty mare still history’s sole triple Melbourne Cup champion.
This year he could return seeking a third Melbourne Cup victory having nominated for his last start Group 2 Lonsdale Cup winner over 3299m at York Pale Mimosa.
Also in the mix is Lonsdale Cup runner-up Estimate owned by The Queen Of England who hasn’t been represented in a Melbourne Cup field since Arabian Story lined up in 1997 finishing unplaced behind Might And Power.
Japan then entered the Melbourne Cup winners’ game in 2006 with the Katsuhiko Sumii-trained stable mates Delta Blues and Pop Rock running the quinella.
Another all Japanese Melbourne Cup quinella is a possibility again this year too after two stayers from Japan were nominated with the highly-fancied Bande and Admire Rakti.
If either lines up they will be the first Japanese runner in a Melbourne Cup field since Tokai Trick ran 12th behind Americain four years ago.
France then went back-to-back with the Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Americain (2010) and 12 months later Dunaden (2011) for Mikel Delzangles flying the tri-coloured flag for the French.
With Paul Bary opting not to nominate for Group 1 Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Spiritjim there is no chance for a third French-trained Melbourne Cup winner this year.
So which are the genuine international contenders for the 2014 Melbourne Cup trophy?
Below we take a look at the best fancied early hopes from abroad to become the first internationally-trained winner since Dunaden when the 24-horse Melbourne Cup field lines-up this spring.
4yo Bay Horse
By Authorized from Logica
- Trainer: Mr Yoshito Yahagi
- Career: 12-5:0:3
- Min/Max Dist. Wins: 2400/2600
Well placed in Japanese majors including a third in the wet over 3000m last October in the Japanese St Leger, most recent effort was a 2600m win on August 10 in black-type company. Also in the mix for the $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) in October, their latest win was a commanding five length success.
Admire Rakti (JPN)
7yo Bay Horse
By Heart’s Cry from Admire Teresa
- Trainer: Tomoyuki Umeda
- Career: 26-6:6:5
- Min/Max Dist. Wins: 1800/3400
Career highlight was a second in the Group 2 Daishoten Stakes this year but has been consistent enough to win over $2.9 in career earnings. Can handle any track and Group winner both left and right way of going. Dour stayer will get back and finish hard. Failed last time out in the Grade 1 Tenno Sho when 13th over the 3218m on May 4, but connections are still dreaming the Melbourne Cup dream.
8yo Bay / Brown Horse
by Dansili from Generous Diana
- Trainer: Marco Botti
- Career: 30-8:10:1
- Min/Max Dist. Wins: 1800/2700
Veteran European has Aussie form to consider having run second in the Caulfield Cup last year before a brave fifth in the Melbourne Cup on the back of an American St Leger victory at Arlington. This time in has had three runs, opening two over 2414m producing noting of note but was better when second in this year’s American St Leger. On-pace runner with a nice turn of foot out to repeat the feat of Green Moon by backing up from a Caulfield Cup place to win the next year’s Melbourne Cup.
5yo Bay Horse
By Monsun from Patineuse
- Trainer: Andreas Wohler
- Career: 8-4:3:1
- Min/Max Dist. Win: 1600/3000
One of two German imports in the Melbourne Cup nominations, also in the Caulfield Cup entries off the back of some flying European form. Yet to finish out of the money, boasts three wins and four placings from seven starts including back-to-back Group 2 wins this last campaign most recently stepping up and thriving over 3000m at Deauville to win the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay – a very nice Melbourne Cup form race – carrying 60kg.
9yo Bay Horse
By Halling from Silversword
- Trainer: Saeed Bin Suroor
- Career: 37-10:5:5
- Min/Max Dist. Wins: 1600/3270
Bin Suroor and Goldophin and three times trained a Melbourne Cup runner-up but not a winner, could this veteran get the job done in 2014? Has been here before and could only manage a 12th to Green Moon in the 2012 Melbourne Cup but is definitely coming back for another shot and is racing well. A genuine 3200m horse he has won twice and placed second twice in six starts over two miles including a Goodwood Cup win in July and a fourth in the Lonsdale Cup last time out behind fellow Melbourne Cup nominees Pale Mimosa and Estimate who ran the quinella.
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