32 remain in the hunt for Lexus Melbourne Cup success
With eight days to go until the ‘race that stops a nation’ the Lexus Melbourne Cup dream continues for connections of 32 horses after third acceptances were taken today for the $8.4 million feature.
For the first time since 2012, two previous Cup champions look set to line up in the final field for this year’s Group 1 Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) with defending champion Gold Trip and 2019 winner Vow and Declare among the acceptances.
Gold Trip and Vow and Declare remain on target to join Archer, Peter Pan, Rain Lover, Think Big and Makybe Diva as the sixth horse to win the Cup more than once. A host of Australian stayers remain in the acceptances including Caulfield Cup winner Without A Fight, Moonee Valley Cup winner Cleveland and Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott’s Military Mission.
This year marks 30 years since Vintage Crop and Drum Taps became the first horses trained outside of Australia and New Zealand to contest Australia’s greatest race, with the Dermot Weld-prepared Vintage Crop taking the prized trophy to Ireland.
Fittingly, 30 years on from Vintage Crop’s historic success, there are four Irish representatives set to line up on the first Tuesday in November.
Current favourite Vauban and Ebor Handicap winner Absurde, guaranteed a start after his York success, are firmly in the mix for trainer Willie Mullins, while Valiant King and Okita Soushi could deliver 30-year-old Joseph O’Brien a third triumph in Australia’s greatest race.
Japan is also set to be represented next Tuesday for the first time in four years with high-class stayer Breakup on target for trainer Tatsuya Yoshioka.
New Zealand-trained stayer may also line up in the Lexus Melbourne Cup for the first time since 2020 with Group 1 Livamol Classic winner Ladies Man on the cusp of the final field of 24.
In addition to Absurde, Golden Ticket winner Future History (Lexus Bart Cummings) is set to claim his spot in the Lexus Melbourne Cup and will be ridden by English jockey Hollie Doyle, who will become the first international female jockey to ride in the race. One further Golden Ticket is up for grabs in the Lexus Archer Stakes on Saturday, Penfolds Victoria Derby Day.
Others remaining in the hunt include Irish Group 1 winners Alenquer, who is set to be the final Lexus Melbourne Cup ride for three-time winner Damien Oliver, and Soulcombe, while recent French arrival Lastotchka is expected to have her maiden Australian start at Flemington next week.
Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Executive General Manager Racing Leigh Jordon said that the 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup was shaping up as one of the most intriguing in years.
“There is quality up and down the list of third acceptances for the Lexus Melbourne Cup,” Mr Jordon said.
“At the top are horses like Gold Trip and Without A Fight who have been headline horses already this spring and there are strong internationals like Vauban and Absurde who we are yet to see race in Australia.
“The next few days will build momentum as the field is finalised and we are excited to see who will make it to the start for the 163rd Lexus Melbourne Cup next Tuesday.
”Final declarations for the Lexus Melbourne Cup close at 4:30pm on Saturday 4 November, with the barrier draw for the world’s richest handicap to be conducted shortly afterwards in Flemington’s famous Mounting Yard.
The full list of third acceptances for the Lexus Melbourne Cup can be found here.
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