The main local defence may fall to Chris Waller, who has 13 entries bidding to give him his first-ever Cup winner.
They are headed by last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Verry Elleegant, who was a running on seventh in last year’s Melbourne Cup, the Queensland Derby winner Kukeracha and dual Group 1 winner Hungry Heart.
The 2019 Cup winner Vow And Declare is one of five from the Danny O’Brien team while former AFL premiership coach turned racehorse trainer Denis Pagan is still daring to dream of Cup success with his VRC Derby winner Johnny Get Angry amongst the entries.
Realm of Flowers, who is a guaranteed starter thanks to her win in May’s Andrew Ramsden, will be one of the main local defenders along with Cup favourite Incentivise and leading Victorian country hope Tralee Rose.
A total of 109 horses remain in the Caulfield Cup, the world’s richest 2400 metre turf handicap, at Caulfield on Saturday, 16 October while the first acceptances for the Cox Plate, run a week later, total 79 horses including Joseph O’Brien’s State of Rest as the sole foreign challenger.
Verry Elleegant is entered for these two as well as the Melbourne Cup, while Sir Dragonet, last year’s Plate winner, will be back to defend his crown at The Valley.
All have to contend with the current favourite Zaaki, the former English trained import, who tightened in the betting for the Plate after his excellent return to action in the Tramway Handicap in Sydney last weekend
Victoria Racing Club (VRC) executive general manager racing Leigh Jordon said the Cup picture will become clearer after the Makybe Diva Stakes on Saturday when several contenders, including Incentivise and triple Derby winner Explosive Jack, step out.
“We’ve already seen key Cup hopes such as Verry Elleegant and Realm of Flowers show they are in for a big spring. The international interest remains strong and the Irish St Leger on Sunday 12 September will be an important race to watch with Cup hopefuls such as Sonnyboyliston, Master of Reality and Twilight Payment expected to run.”