Equal Cox Plate favourite Highland Reel is one of six international raiders still in contention for the $3 million feature following the first round of acceptances.

Highland Reel, who is prepared by last year’s Cox Plate-winning trainer Aidan O’Brien, shares the top line of betting at $13 with local hope Fawkner.

Also among the international acceptors are $21 chance Arod, Highland Reel’s stablemate Cougar Mountain and classy French gelding Gailo Chop.

Racing Victoria’s Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, is excited by the prospect of a strong international showing after Adelaide paved the way last year.

“Three of the Cox Plate international invitees in Arod, Gailo Chop and Highland Reel feature among the first acceptors for the weight-for-age championship which is a positive sign towards their participation in the race,” Carpenter said.

“After the breakthrough win of Adelaide last year we are expecting the international entries to again be key players in this year’s Cox Plate.”

While international involvement in the Cox Plate has been slim in recent years, it has become commonplace in the Caulfield Cup.

That will again be the case, with Japanese stars Fame Game and Hokko Brave leading the charge.

“Today provides a much clearer picture on what the international contingent will look like for the BMW Caulfield Cup and William Hill Cox Plate and we’re really pleased with the quality that remains among the international first acceptors,” Carpenter said.