High-class entries from Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle establishment feature among the topweights for the AUD $5.15 million Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) and AUD $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) with the release of weights today.
The three highest weighted horses in the 143rd Caulfield Cup, to be run at Caulfield on Saturday, 17 October, are O’Brien’s star-studded Group 1-winning trio of Anthony Van Dyck (58.5kg), Japan (58.5kg) and Magical (58kg).
With the latter two only nominated for the Caulfield Cup, 2019 Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck is the sole topweight for the 160th Melbourne Cup, to be run at Flemington on Tuesday, 3 November, with 58.5kg.
O’Brien’s 2019 Irish Derby winner Sovereign is among a trio of horses allotted 57kg in both races, making them the equal second highest weighted horses in the Melbourne Cup. The other two are defending Melbourne Cup champion Vow And Declare (Danny O’Brien) and Godolphin’s three-time Group 1 winner Avilius (James Cummings).
Russian Camelot (Danny O’Brien), the pre-weights Caulfield Cup favourite, has been allotted 53.5kg making him the highest weighted Northern Hemisphere three-year-old in both races alongside Aidan O’Brien’s 2020 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winner Santiago.
Surprise Baby (Paul Preusker), the pre-weights Melbourne Cup favourite, has been handed 54.5kg in both races – 1kg more than the 2019 Adelaide Cup and The Bart Cummings winner carried into fifth place in last year’s Melbourne Cup.
Of the other horses highly fancied in pre-post betting for both Cups, Chris Waller’s four-time Group 1 winning mare Verry Elleegant has been allocated 55kg in each, while Team Hawkes’ revelation of the 2019-20 season, Master of Wine, has been weighted on 53.5kg.
Like her stablemates Japan and Magical, Aidan O’Brien’s globetrotting mare Magic Wand is nominated for the Caulfield Cup only. The 2019 Mackinnon Stakes winner has been handicapped on 55kg – 1.5kg more than she carried when 10th in the 2019 Melbourne Cup.
Speaking at the release of weights this morning Racing Victoria’s (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter said:
“Aidan’s O’Brien’s entries are the standouts on performances over the past 18 months and have been handicapped accordingly at the top of the weights for this year’s Stella Artois Caulfield Cup and Lexus Melbourne Cup.
“The joint Caulfield Cup topweights Anthony Van Dyck and Japan were both Group 1 winners over 2400m in 2019 and have been placed behind the world’s highest rated horse Ghaiyyath this year. Anthony Van Dyck holds the honour of sole topweight in the Melbourne Cup with Japan not nominated.”
Continuing his explanation of weight allocations, Carpenter said:
“The outstanding Magical, who is a six-time Group 1 winner and nominated for the Caulfield Cup only, has 58kg and will need to set a weight carrying record for a mare with Tranquil Star claiming that mark when winning the 1942 Caulfield Cup with 56kg.
“There’s a challenge been set for talented local mare Verry Elleegant also, who has 55kg in both Cups. Makybe Diva is the only mare to carry more than 55kg to victory in the Melbourne Cup having done so in 2004 (55.5kg) and 2005 (58kg), the latter being the last time a mare has placed in our most famous race.
“There is always great interest in what weight is given to the defending Melbourne Cup champion and this year that is Vow And Declare who rises to 57kg having won the race with 52kg last year for Australia with Craig Williams in the saddle for Danny O’Brien.
“The 5kg increase for Vow And Declare represents a 1.5kg increase in his weight-for-age benchmark moving to five years of age and a 3.5kg penalty for his 2019 win. That’s the same penalty that was afforded to Cross Counter, Prince of Penzance, Green Moon, Dunaden and Americain for their title defences over the past decade.
The weights allocated to other notable entries are as follows:
Dual Melbourne Cup placed horse, English stayer Prince Of Arran (Charlie Fellowes), has been allocated 54.5kg – 0.5kg more than he carried when promoted to second in the 2019 edition and 1.5kg more than his third placing in 2018.
Master of Reality, who was second across the line in the 2019 Melbourne Cup before being demoted to fourth on protest, rises 0.5kg this year to 56kg – the same weight the Joseph O’Brien trained stayer has in the Caulfield Cup.
In addition to Master of Reality, Australian owner Lloyd Williams has the Joseph O’Brien-trained pair Twilight Payment (55.5kg), Buckhurst (55kg) as well as Adelaide Cup winner King of Leogrance (53.5kg) prominent in the weights in his pursuit of a seventh Melbourne Cup and second Caulfield Cup.
The Willie Mullins-trained duo of recent Lonsdale Cup runner-up Stratum and last year’s VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner True Self have been handicapped on 55kg and 52kg respectively.
Germany’s sole entrant Ashrun has been assigned 53kg in both races for the 2014 Melbourne Cup-winning combination of trainer Andreas Wohler and syndicators Australian Bloodstock.
Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds have won two of the last three Melbourne Cups. Young French stayer Port Guillaume (Jean-Claude Rouget), touted as a key contender should he make the trip, has been weighted on 52.5kg.