Strong nominations for 2023 Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup picture has become slightly clearer following the closure of entries for the great race in November.

A total of 132 nominations were received on Tuesday by the Victoria Racing Club for this year’s renewal, which includes 15 international gallopers, representing at the same stage an increase from 97 last year among which were 10 internationals.

Last year’s nominations for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 7 closed on August 2, with early acceptances taken before weights were declared.

The Ciaron Maher & David Eustace stable have the highest representation among the trainers with 17 horses nominated, ahead of Chris Waller with 14 and the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott stable with nine.

Last year’s winner Gold Trip headlines the Maher and Eustace representation who also had a further four horses finish behind the stable’s first Cup winner.

Third in race last year High Emocean, Australasian Oaks winner Affaire A Suivre, Turnbull Stakes winner Smokin Romans and Mornington Cup winner Right You Are are being aimed at the race while other nominations from the Maher and Eustace yard include Ashrun, Convenor, Dillian, Duke De Sessa, Floating Artist, Future History, Interpretation, Lionel, Mr Buster, Promises Kept, United Nations and Verona, while one notable missing nominations was European galloper Saint George who has had a slight setback in UK and will not be making the trip.

“They’ve all got to warrant their start,” Maher said.

“Some need to qualify, like Floating Artist, after a year off while I thought a horse like Smokin’ Romans, was in better form this time last year but was racing in benchmark races and had one of those really solid preps where he is now up to his mark.

“I thought his run in The Cup last year was huge. He led, so a horse like him, being a bit older now and a bit more dour may be suited.

“And I thought I could have had him a little better too.

“Right You Are, he could be like High Emocean and Floating Artist.

“He’s going to burn around in a Caulfield Cup and seems in good order. Will he run two miles, we’ll have to see, but I would say he’ll be given his chance.”

VRC Executive General Manager Racing Leigh Jordon said he was thrilled with the list of nominations for this year’s Cup.

“This year we celebrate 30 years since Vintage Crop began the wave of international horses competing in the Melbourne Cup and it is promising to see the quality of overseas contenders nominated,” Jordon said.

“This is complemented by a quality list of locally trained stayers, testament to the enduring allure of the Melbourne Cup.”

Dermot Weld, who prepared Vintage Crop to win the Cup in 1993, has entered Harbour Wind who recently won the Vinnie Roe Stakes in Ireland, a race named after the Weld-trained three-time Cup runner.

Also among nominations is the William Haggas-trained Desert Hero who was bred by the late Queen Elizabth II and now raced by Their Majesties King Charles and Queen Camilla, while Willie Mullins, who finished second with Max Dynamite behind Prince Of Penzance in the 2015 Cup has two nominations – Vauban and Absurde.

Absurde is guaranteed a start courtesy of his win in the Ebor Handicap at York, while other entries also assured of a start include Goldman, winner of the Roy Higgins Stakes and Lunar Flare after her win in the Andrew Ramsden Stakes.

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