“Clearly we’re well down on numbers previously and I would have liked a few more in the Cox Plate, but overall quite pleased. We’ve got some genuine chances to actually come.”
Spanish Mission arguably boasts the best staying formlines in the world. Trained by Andrew Balding, he won the Yorkshire Cup in May and then ran third to Subjectivist in the Ascot Gold Cup in June, beating Stradivarius. He is the early favourite for the group 2 Lonsdale Cup on August 20, a race won by Melbourne Cup runner-up Max Dynamite in 2015.
Locally-trained galloper Zaaki remains the well-fancied favourite to win the weight-for-age Cox Plate following his devastating win in the Doomben Cup in May, but the likes of Gold Trip (who will hopefully join the stable of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace) could add an international flavour to the race in similar fashion to last year’s winner Sir Dragonet, who is also nominated.
Last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Verry Elleegant has been entered for all three majors, but prominent owner Brae Sokolski told The Age that the Cox Plate would be her target before a second tilt at the Melbourne Cup. The star mare finished seventh in last year’s race.
However, rising stayer Incentivise, who recently joined the stable of Peter Moody, is the horse on everyone’s lips for the two cups having won his past six on end in Queensland. Denis Pagan’s VRC Derby winner Johnny Get Angry is in the Melbourne Cup entries, while forgotten horse Il Paradiso is also nominated for the three majors, having not raced since his placing in the 2019 Melbourne Cup.
Among the other internationals nominated for the Melbourne Cup, Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle was a surprise entry. Trained by Martyn Meade, the three-year-old son of Galileo would be looking to go one better than Tiger Moth – who finished second in last year’s Melbourne Cup – if he was to make the trip.
Unsurprisingly, Aidan O’Brien has not nominated any horses for this year’s majors.
Leviathan owner Lloyd Williams, who has won seven Melbourne Cups including last year’s, and son Nick entered a large number of horses for this year’s race including Dawn Patrol, King Of Leogrance, Pondus and the Joseph O’Brien-trained Master Of Reality. Baron Samedi and Benaud are the other two entries from O’Brien.
There’ll be no international jockeys at this year’s carnival while stablehands will need to do two weeks’ quarantine on arrival to Australia.