This year’s $6.2 million Melbourne Cup is already shaping as a promoter’s dream with two brave 10-year-olds heading the entries for Australia’s most important horse race with both managing to inject more emotion and intrigue than has been seen in years.
And Bart Cummings, the man who won 12 cups will be a part of the race in spirit. His veteran stayer Precedence, who will be making his fifth attempt to win the cup, is set to compete with J.B. Cummings permitted to stay in the training partnership with his grandson James.
Cummings passed away on Sunday aged 87, not only ending an unforgettable training career but also his partnership with James.
However that day, chief steward Terrey Bailey said he would allow Bart Cummings’ name to remain on Precedence, a move rarely granted.
“And so it should be, he owned the race and if Precedence makes it, it would be fitting,” Bailey said.
The other runner who will potentially race as a 10-year-old, Red Cadeaux, will be making his fifth trip to Australia from England after achieving a remarkable three seconds in four starts in the race that stops the nation.
“It’s a wonderful blend to have the J.B. Cummings influence still very much amongst us, yet we have this brave stayer who’s also on the cusp of writing more Melbourne Cup records coming back to try again,” Racing Victoria’s international talent scout Leigh Jordon said.
Jordon believes the 31 overseas entries are a vital sign that the racing world now recognises that to win a Melbourne Cup, a very special stayer is required.
While many countries have enjoyed Melbourne Cup success, England is the one nation yet to taste November success at Flemington.
“I don’t think in all the years we’ve been bringing horses to Australia, have I ever seen a more impressive list of major race winners or place getters that have signalled their intent to come to Australia,” Jordon said.
Jordon pointed out that not only would Red Cadeau attempt to take the Melbourne Cup home to Britain, his trainer, Ed Dunlop would bring the veteran’s stablemate Trip To Paris on the plane as well. Trip To Paris is a winner of the Royal Ascot Gold Cup and is just one of a number of coups the VRC could achieve by Cup Day.
As well, Aidan O’Brien seems certain to return to Australia after a number of years and has entered four runners in the Cup, one four-year-old and three three-year-olds.
It’s not the first time the master European trainer has brought a three-year-old to Australia, as in 2007 his young stayer Mahler finished a bold third in the Cup.
Smart stayer King Fisher was an entry when they closed on Monday as well his three-year-olds Order Of St George, Field Of Athenry and Bondi Beach. All three will start in the English St Ledger in mid-September and they are all under 8-1 to win the race.
This year the entries have polarised somewhat with a sizeable number of starters from England.
The world’s greatest jumping trainer Willie Mullins has Goodwood Cup winner Big Orange and Quest For More booked to start in the Cup.
Again it is going to be difficult to force a start into the 24-strong field and weight, and plenty of it, will be the major dimension in making the field.
Japan, the home of some of the world’s toughest stayers, will likely be represented by Fame Game, who finished a valiant second in Japan’s equivalent of the Melbourne Cup, the Tenno Sho over 3200 metres in April this year.
Fame Game will be joined by Hokko Brave.
The all-conquering Godolphin Outfit already has two main players this spring in Contributer and Hartnell and they will be joined by five Melbourne Cup hopefuls, including high-class stayer Sky Hunter.
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