Absurde secures golden ticket into 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup
Irish trainer Willie Mullins will be represented in the 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup as talented stayer Absurde produced an epic win in the Ebor Handicap at York Racecourse, earning a golden ticket in the race that stops a nation.
In a fairytale finale to York for Frankie Dettori, the champion jockey guided Absurde home to win the feature race and potentially secure his mount in the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
The Ebor Handicap is the only international race to offer ballot exemption into the Lexus Melbourne Cup and has a strong Melbourne Cup record, with several Ebor runners travelling to Flemington to compete including 2016 Ebor Handicap winner Heartbreak City, who finished a close second in the 2016 Melbourne Cup.
Legendary trainer Willie Mullins, who hosted the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour at Closutton, his County Carlow stable last week, said he was thrilled with Absurde’s performance and excited at the prospect of travelling to Melbourne for the world's richest handicap.
“I thought it was very good, I didn’t think we could do it and certainly a furlong down I didn’t think we would do it, and then Frankie just went into overdrive and pulled it out of the fire. It was terrific to have Frankie riding the horse, his last ride at York, you could not dream of anything like that. It worked out perfectly,” Mr Mullins said.
“I will have a word with connections, who couldn’t be here today, but I’d say they would love a runner in the Melbourne Cup. If Frankie is free to ride the horse, we would be delighted to have him there.”
Mr Mullins is now in the enviable position of having two horses on the path to the Cup, current favourite Vauban and Ebor Handicap winner Absurde.
“To go down double handed, we’re looking forward to it,” Mr Mullins said.
“It’s a race I would really love to win so we’re going to give it our best shot.”
Dettori, who also won a record sixth Group 1 Juddmonte International at York this week, hopes the victory could secure him a final ride in the Lexus Melbourne Cup, his 19th appearance at Cup Week.
“I’m super excited and what a horse, he’s showed that he’s very tough, he stays very well and I’m looking forward to it….it depends on the weight now, if the weight is kind to him, he’ll have a good shot,” Mr Dettori said.
“It is my last Melbourne Cup, it is one of the best races in the world (and) I’ve got an absolutely amazing CV and this is the race that is missing... so if I can nail that then I would be the happiest man in the world.
"I’ll see you in Melbourne!”
Victoria Racing Club Chairman Neil Wilson was looking forward to welcoming the connections of Absurde to Flemington.
“It was an exciting win by Absurde in the Ebor Handicap, with the victory securing their spot in this year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup. With already strong interest from overseas contenders, the introduction of the golden ticket further emphasises the internationalisation of the Ebor Handicap and its place on the world stage,” Mr Wilson said.
“The 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival is on our doorstep and continues to build momentum, with just over 70 days until the Lexus Melbourne Cup.”
Chief Executive of York Racecourse William Derby said the partnership with the VRC was well received and added to the excitement for Britain’s richest handicap.
“We’re so proud of the relationship between York Racecourse Committee and the Victoria Racing Club, which extends to the way horses’ campaign in our flagship carnival the Sky Bet Ebor Festival and come down for the Melbourne Cup Carnival,” Mr Derby said.
“There’s been so much excitement about the Cup and as the host of Britain’s richest flat handicap we now pass on the baton to the world’s richest flat handicap the Lexus Melbourne Cup and we wish you all the very best for the first Tuesday in November.
"We are hopeful that the strong form lines over the years can hold up and we have just witnessed another Ebor winner on their way to Lexus Melbourne Cup success.”
The 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival could have extra international flair with jockeys Hollie Doyle and Tom Marquand signalling their intention to ride in this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.
“The Melbourne Cup is the race that stops a nation and fingers crossed we’ll be coming down and partaking in it,” Mr Marquand said.
He is hoping to combine with the William Haggas trained Desert Hero, bred by the late Queen Elizabeth II and owned by Their Majesties King Charles and Queen Camilla.
“He’s tailor made for it, he’s super straight forward, stays well, has proved versatile on ground and I know obviously the Majesty’s would I’m sure absolutely love to have a runner in a race so significant.”
Hollie is hoping to join Tom for her first visit to Australia, and to secure a ride in the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
“I think every jockey would want to ride in the Melbourne Cup if they’re given the chance to, it’s one of the world's most famous races and it’s something that everyone gets up and watches,” Ms Doyle said.
Absurde's epic win in the Ebor Handicap caps off the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour’s overseas journey, which has seen the coveted trophy visit County Kildare in Ireland, Deauville and Paris in France and London in the United Kingdom.
As part of the UK journey, the People’s Cup also took in the iconic sights of London including visiting the Tower Bridge, Big Ben and the London Eye before travelling to York for the Ebor Festival and making a special visit to Aldby Park the ancestral home of the Darley family and the Darley Arabian.
The Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour will continue its journey next week, visiting Deloraine and Launceston in Tasmania, Australia.