32 horses left in the 2023 Melbourne Cup, penalty for Cleveland

A penalty for his Moonee Valley Cup win, combined with natural attrition, has Cleveland safely in the field for next week’s $8.4 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup.

Racing Victoria’s head of handicapping David Hegan issued the Kris Lees-trained entire a 0.5kg penalty for Friday night’s win under 55.5kg, taking his Melbourne Cup weight to 52kg.

Placed 24th in the order of entry prior to the win, Cleveland elevated a few spots owing to several higher-weighted runners not being paid-up as third-round acceptors and now sits in 14th position after the penalty.

“Under the set weights and penalty conditions of the Moonee Valley Gold Cup, Cleveland was allocated the base weight on Friday night,” Hegan said.

“Thus, he came in well at the weights against some of his opposition on the night and compared to where they are in the Melbourne Cup weights.

“Vow and Declare and Future History will now meet Cleveland 0.5kg and 3kg better respectively in the Melbourne Cup after the penalty. If the luckless Athabascan makes the field it would be a 3.5kg turnaround in his favour against Cleveland too.”

Cleveland becomes the first Moonee Valley Gold Cup winner to receive a Melbourne Cup penalty since 2015 when The United States moved to 52.5kg with a 2.5kg penalty.

Cleveland will be one of two Melbourne Cup horses for six-time winner Lloyd Williams and his partners after Epsom Derby winner Serpentine jumped to 22nd in the order of entry.

In 23rd position is More Felons with True Marvel 24th but those two are not yet guaranteed a run with a ballot exemption on offer to the winner of Saturday’s The Archer at Flemington, while Wednesday’s Bendigo Cup contains two runners – Hasta La War (29th) and Interpretation (31st) – who can elevate their position in the order of entry if they win and receive a penalty.

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