Darren Weir’s defending champion Prince Of Penzance has received 3.5kg more than his winning weight last spring in the 2016 Melbourne Cup weights released this week.
Racing Victoria (RV) Executive General Manager of Racing Greg Carpenter announced the original handicaps for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on Tuesday, the race to run at Flemington on November 1.
Two previous Melbourne Cup winners are among the early entries for this year’s edition of the ‘race that stops a nation’ with the 2014 champ Protectionist and last year’s upset hero Prince Of Penzance.
German raider Protectionist is allocated the equal 58kg original Melbourne Cup top weight this season along with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Order Of St George.
Prince Of Penzance is the next heaviest weighted with 56.5kg, equal in the handicaps with Chris Waller’s multiple Group 1 winning son of Zabeel Preferment.
Last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival Weir’s Pentire gelding backed up from a second to The United States in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup (2500m) to line-up in the world’s richest handicap as a 101/1 roughie.
Making history he became one of the two-mile classic’s longest priced winners and the first to be ridden to a Melbourne Cup victory by a female hoop with Michelle Payne aboard for the fairy tale success.
Prince Of Penzance had 53kg on his back in the Melbourne Cup 2015 and has been allocated an extra 3.5kg 12 months on, which aligns with the weight allocated to French raiders American (2011) and Dunaden (2012) for their respective Melbourne Cup wins.
Connections of Prince Of Penzance believe their galloper is a genuine chance of going back-to-back in the Melbourne Cup under his allocated weight.
“I think it’s a pretty fair weight given the circumstances,” part-owner Sandy McGregor told G1X.com.au on Tuesday.
“I don’t think we can worry too much about the weight. It’s not anywhere near as strong as last year’s race. I think it’s significantly weaker, on paper.”
To date only five champion stayers have won multiple editions of the Melbourne Cup: Makybe Diva (2003, 2004, 2005), Think Big (1974, 1975), Rain Lover (1968, 1969), Peter Pan (1932, 1934) and Archer (1861, 1862).
In the latest all-in Melbourne Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au Prince Of Penzance pays $31 to be the next, while the in-form Andreas Wohler-trained Protectionist is a $26 to take out the ‘Loving Trophy’ on non-successive years for just the second time in history joining Peter Pan.
Prince Of Penzance was last seen running a second-up sixth behind stablemate Palentino in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last weekend.
He was only rated a $61 roughie in the mile showdown and impressed McGregor with his run, finishing just over four lengths off the winner.
“He went terrific on Saturday. It was really good,” McGregor said.
Weir has a total of 11 horses still in Melbourne Cup contention, his best-fancied in the Melbourne Cup betting futures being co-$17 favourite Signoff.
Signoff, also part-owned by McGregor, occupies the equal first line of the markets with The United States (55.5kg) who is raced by four-time Melbourne Cup winning owner Lloyd Williams.
Weir’s Authorized gelding Signoff is extremely well-weighted in the early Melbourne Cup handicaps getting in on just 53.5kg, an exact weight last carried to victory by the mighty Kiwi mare Empire Rose (1988).
Back in 2014 Signoff ran fourth to Protectionist carrying 51.5kg in the Melbourne Cup, but injury and setbacks have him very lightly-raced since.
He has won one race since his Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) success two years ago that got him into that season’s Melbourne Cup field, taking out Adelaide’s Group 3 Lord Reims Stakes (2600m) in March this year.
His last run was on September 3 at Moonee Valley when 13th of 14 runners behind 2016 Cox Plate-bound Awesome Rock in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m), but is tipped for improvement once out over more distance.
“We just need to see him improving a bit now. He’s been carrying too much weight,” McGregor said of Signoff.
Check out the updated Melbourne Cup 2016 odds online now at Ladbrokes.com.au!