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Lexus Melbourne Cup dream begins with 174 nominations

3 August 2021 Written by VRC

Ninety one days out, the 2021 Lexus Melbourne Cup dream is alive for connections of 174 horses after nominations closed today for the $8 million Group 1 Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m).

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) is thrilled to see a quality mix of Australasian-trained horses and 15 internationally-trained horses among the nominations for the 161st running of the world-famous race including last year’s winner, Irish-trained Twilight Payment.

Headlining the 159 Australasian-trained nominations are Australia’s current Queen of the Turf Verry Elleegant for Chris Waller, three-time Derby winner Explosive Jack for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, The Andrew Ramsden winner Realm of Flowers for Anthony and Sam Freedman, and Incentivise for Peter Moody.

Fifteen quality international entrants include Twilight Payment’s stablemate Master of Reality, fourth in the 2019 Lexus Melbourne Cup for Joseph O’Brien, Spanish Mission for Andrew Balding and three-time Melbourne Cup placegetter Prince of Arran for Charlie Fellowes.

Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien has entered 2019 Lexus Melbourne Cup hero Vow and Declare plus Victoria Derby runner-up Young Werther while fellow Flemington trainer Denis Pagan is aiming to capture the jewel in the crown of Australian racing with Johnny Get Angry, last year’s surprise Victoria Derby winner.

Chris Waller has a very strong team with 19 nominations. In addition to Verry Elleegant, he has also nominated this year’s Queensland Derby winner Kukeracha, 2019 Lexus Melbourne Cup third placegetter Il Paradiso, 2021 ATC Oaks winner Hungry Heart, and Sydney Cup winner Selino, amongst others.

The Cummings name is synonymous with the Melbourne Cup thanks to the Cups King Bart Cummings but it will be Bart’s son Anthony and grandsons Edward and James Cummings looking to add their name to the honour roll in 2021. Only one NSW-based trainer has won the Cup since Bart Cummings in 2008 and of the Cummings’ nominations this year, Queensland Oaks winner Duais for Edward Cummings attracts the most attention.

Trainer Robert Hickmott and owner Lloyd Williams have enjoyed success in the Melbourne Cup before with Green Moon (2012) and Almandin (2016) and have nominated a number of horses in 2021 including former internationally-trained horses Dawn Patrol and Pondus.

New Zealand has a strong contingent this year, with 2020 Australian Derby winner Quick Thinker (Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman) joined by stablemate The Chosen One, fourth in last year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup, and 2020 New Zealand Derby winner Sherwood Forest (Tony Pike).

VRC Chief Executive Officer Steve Rosich said the club was very pleased with the depth and strength of the nominations.

“Despite the challenges of travel and quarantine in the current environment, we are really pleased with the high quality list of entrants and to equal the total number of nominations from last year with 15 international nominations is a great result,” Mr Rosich said.

“In addition to the 15 quality international entrants there will be further opportunity for international connections to nominate, with a late entry fee waived for the winner of the Ebor Handicap, Lonsdale Cup, Great Voltiguer Stakes and Prix Kergorlay.

“It is also exciting to see rising stars of Australian racing nominated, from three-time Derby winner Explosive Jack to boom horse Incentivise and Denis Pagan’s Johnny Get Angry. It’s going to be interesting to see them progress on their road to the Lexus Melbourne Cup.”

Mr Rosich also commented on the new safety conditions that have been introduced for Cup contenders.

“The VRC strongly supports Racing Victoria’s safety changes to the Lexus Melbourne Cup including pre-travel and pre-race veterinary screening processes,” Mr Rosich said.

“A global audience will enjoy this year’s Cup more than ever, reassured by the extra safety measures taken to ensure all 24 horses in the final field are in peak physical condition, and we thank connections for committing to the additional requirements to support this goal.”

The Lexus Melbourne Cup will be run on Tuesday 2 November as part of the iconic Melbourne Cup Carnival which begins with Penfolds Victoria Derby Day on Saturday 30 October and also features Kennedy Oaks Day on Thursday 4 November and Mackinnon Stakes Day on Saturday 6 November.

All the action from the 2021 Melbourne Cup Carnival can be seen free to air on Network 10.

The full list of nominations for the 2021 Lexus Melbourne Cup can be found here.