Cross Counter heads a strong British entry for this year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington on November 5.
Charlie Appleby’s runner made history when becoming the first British-trained horse to win the two-mile prize last year, leading home a one-two-three for the raiding party as Marmelo finished second for Hughie Morrison while the Charlie Fellowes-trained Prince Of Arran was third.
All three are in the mix for the Group One event again, with a total of 16 entries from Britain including a second string for Appleby in Ispolini.
Martyn Meade’s Technician and the Andrew Balding-trained Dashing Willoughby are a couple of leading hopes for the St Leger who have been given the option, along with a clutch of runners from last week’s Ebor at York.
Mustajeer has now switched to the care of Australian handler Kris Lees after winning on the Knavesmire for Ger Lyons and that form is strongly represented with the five that followed him home – Red Galileo, Desert Skyline, Raymond Tusk, Barsanti and True Self – all entered.
Raheen House (ninth) and Red Verdon (14th) also feature, with Ian Williams’ Gold Mount another notable contender.
Joseph O’Brien won the race with Rekindling in 2017 and he has five contenders this time, including Buckhurst and Master Of Reality while his father Aidan has 11, including Leger possibles Il Paradiso and Constantinople.
Last year’s Doncaster hero Kew Gardens is also in the reckoning along with the admirable Magic Wand, who finished second in the Arlington Million last time out.
Dermot Weld twice won the race and he has Stivers, an ex-Argentinian horse who has yet to race for him, while Torcedor is an intriguing entry for Andreas Wohler after being prevented from travelling by a temperature last year.
Local hopes are headed by Finche and Rostropovich, who finished fourth and fifth last year, along with Shraaoh, Surprise Baby and Sixties Groove among a total entry of 152.
A handful of the European raiders are also entered in the Stella Artois Caulfield Cup over 12 furlongs on October 19.
A total of 143 nominations includes the likes of Technician, Prince Of Arran, Raheen House and Magic Wand, with Balding’s Pivoine another possible runner.
“There is great depth among the entries and it will be a challenge to secure a place in both races,” said Greg Carpenter, Racing Victoria’s executive general manager of racing.
“It’s great to see Cross Counter given his chance to become the first dual international winner of the Melbourne Cup and those horses that finished second through seventh behind him last year being given their chance to atone.
“The Caulfield and Melbourne Cups are Australia’s premier staying races, so it’s equally pleasing to see so many Derby, Oaks and interstate Cup winners among the entries for both races providing the opportunity for a strong local response to an impressive international challenge.”
Weights for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups will be released on September 10.