World-class acts to close out Cup Week
Formlines from right across the world will be tested at Flemington on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Paramount+ Stakes Day, as two of the best thoroughbreds on the planet, Zaaki and Nature Strip, tackle the Group 1 Paramount+ Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) and the Group 1 Darley Sprint Classic (1200m) respectively.
English import Zaaki, who has been a revelation in Australia this year with wins in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) and the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m), headlines the Paramount+ Mackinnon Stakes, which sees nine top-flight winners go toe-to-toe over the Flemington 2000m.
Zaaki tackles a field that includes two Group 1 winners from Penfolds Victoria Derby Day, Kennedy Cantala (1600m) victor Superstorm and TAB Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) heroine Colette, while Kennedy Cantala third Cascadian – winner of the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) in April – and TAB Empire Rose third Hungry Heart, a two-time winner at the highest level, will also return seven days later as they look to add to their records.
Keiai Nautique, a Group 1 winner in his native Japan, returns to Flemington for the second time this spring, as does Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m) winner Mo’unga, who defeated Lexus Melbourne Cup champion Verry Elleegant to take that prize in August, a start before finishing second to Caulfield Cup winner and Lexus Melbourne Cup runner-up Incentivise in the Group 1 PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.
This year’s Group 1 TAB Australian Cup (2000m) winner Homesman returns to the scene of his biggest victory as he looks to become the first horse since the great Dulcify in 1979 to win both of Flemington’s major prizes at 2000m in the same calendar year.
Group 1 Epsom Handicap winner Private Eye makes his Melbourne debut in the Paramount+ Mackinnon Stakes, while Dalasan will look to add a first Group 1 win to his resume after four placings at the highest level. His best form has come at Flemington, including a Melbourne Cup Carnival win in the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) in 2019.
Six-time Group 1 winner Nature Strip returns to Flemington as he seeks a second win in the Darley Sprint Classic. Also a winner of this year’s Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) among five victories from seven starts at the track, he is a last-start winner of The Everest (1200m).
Nature Strip is one of four runners for Chris Waller, with last year’s Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) victress September Run joining two three-year-olds – Listed Winning Edge Poseidon Stakes (1100m) winner Ranch Hand and Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1200m) winner Shaquero.
Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) second and fourth Bella Nipotina and Streets Of Avalon also line up, as does Group 2 Lexus Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) winner Splintex, who is on trial for a trip to Hong Kong for the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).
Completing the field are Swats That, placed in both the Coolmore Stud Stakes last year and the Black Caviar Lightning this year, and Perth sprinter Samizdat.
The Darley Sprint Classic will jump at 3.50pm with the Paramount+ Mackinnon Stakes at 5.10pm to bring the Melbourne Cup Carnival to a close.
Image: the world’s best sprinter Nature Strip will get back to the Flemington straight (Credit: Racing Photos)