Seven of the 24 horses declared for Tuesday morning’s Lexus Melbourne Cup are trained in Ireland, with father and son Aidan and Joseph O’Brien accounting for a strong Irish hand in the “race that stops a nation.”
In total, 11 internationally-trained runners will line up in the 3,200m contest at Flemington after final acceptances were taken today.
Joseph O’Brien, who won the Melbourne Cup with Rekindling in 2017, will saddle four runners in the 158th edition of the race after Downdraft secured his place with victory in Saturday’s Group 3 Lexus Hotham Handicap (2,500m) at Flemington.
Downdraft, who will carry 53.5kg in the Lexus Melbourne Cup, will be joined in the field by three other Joseph O’Brien-trained runners, Latrobe, Twilight Payment and Master Of Reality.
Ryan Moore has opted to take the ride on Magic Wand, who finished fourth on her Australian debut in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2,040m) last weekend, while her stable companion Hunting Horn, who won the Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup under Moore last week, will aim to deliver a first Melbourne Cup win for Aidan O’Brien, who also saddles Il Paradiso, the mount of Wayne Lordan, in the Group 1 two-mile contest.
Charlie Appleby’s 2019 Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter will be ridden by William Buick, the Richard Hannon-trained Raymond Tusk, will have the assistance of Irish jockey Jamie Spencer, while Australian jockey Michael Walker retains the ride on Prince Of Arran, having won this year’s Bet365 Geelong Cup (2,400m) on Charlie Fellowes’ horse.
The international contingent is completed by the joint favourite in the betting market, Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2,400m) winner Mer De Glace, who is trained in Japan by Hisashi Shimizu. He will be reunited on Tuesday with Australian rider Damian Lane, who is aiming to become the first jockey in history to complete a clean sweep of Australian racing’s four major prizes in the same calendar year.
Twenty of the 24 horses in the Lexus Melbourne Cup field were bred outside Australasia, including Constantinople, who currently shares favouritism with Mer De Glace. The three-year-old, who joined David Hayes, Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig last month after leaving Aidan O Brien’s yard, will be ridden by Brazilian Joao Moreira.
Other imported horses who will take their place in the 24-runner field include Mirage Dancer, now trained by Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, and Irish St Leger placed Southern France who debuts for the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable.