Incentivise remains a clear favourite in Melbourne Cup odds

In a year with limited international competitors, Victoria Racing Club officials are happy with the composition of the 2021 Melbourne Cup field.

A full field of 24 will face the start for the 3200m race on Tuesday with the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Floating Artist the last runner to make the field.

Incentivise remained at the $2.30 favourite with TAB after drawing barrier 16 with European raider Spanish Mission, who had been under a cloud requiring three Racing Victoria veterinary inspections, the second pick at $7.50 after drawing gate 14.

The pair were the only two under double figure odds with last year’s winner Twilight Payment, who drew gate two, on the third line of betting at $12.

VRC Executive General Manager Racing, Leigh Jordon said despite numbers being down form international competitors brought about by new RV protocols and COVID restrictions, it was still a good Melbourne Cup field.

“It’s virtually Incentivise against the world,” Jordon said. “We’ve got Spanish Mission after he’s gone through all his checks, and he’s fit and raring to go and he’s got great form around Stradivarius.

“Then you’ve got Twilight Payment, from the in-form Joseph O’Brien who won the Cox Plate last week and this horse is back to defend his Melbourne Cup crown.

“There’s still some locals that are big chances as well, so it’s a good solid field.”

Peter Moody, who trains the favourite, said Incentivise had held his condition since his win in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 16.

“I haven’t done much with him as he was rock hard fit for the other day, but he’s been ticking over nicely,” Moody said.

“We’ve now got to see whether he can run the two miles and whether he’s good enough.”

Tony Noonan, who has been overseeing the campaign in Melbourne of Spanish Mission for trainer Andrew Balding, said he was always confident the stayer would be among the final acceptances for Tuesday’s race.

Based at Mornington, Noonan has spent considerable time at the Werribee quarantine centre in the past few days working with Spanish Mission.

RV vets reported Spanish Mission as lame in the off foreleg on Thursday while there was still some heat in the leg on a further inspection on Friday.

He was given the all-clear by a panel of three vets on Saturday morning.

“You seem to put more work into one horse when they’re on their own than you do if you’ve got a team of horses,” Noonan said.

“But it’s been a pleasure to work with him as he’s a very nice horse.”

Matt Cumani will saddle up $151 outsider Future Score who had been paid up for as a Cups contender through the various acceptance stages with another race in mind.

“I won’t lie, but I was basically hoping to qualify for the bonus for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes next Saturday,” Cumani said.

“I thought that was the race for him as I didn’t think he was going to get in, but he’s in now, he’s passed all the tests.

“It’s great. The owners are all very excited, and so am I, and I think he’s a horse that could give a bold showing, but we’ll have to see how he goes on the day.”

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