By Andrew Atkinson racing correspondent fromthehorsesmouth.tips
CHARLIE Appleby trained Cross Counter remains on track to become the first horse since three-time winner Makybe Diva (2003-2005) to defend the £4.25m Melbourne Cup crown.
And Stella Artois Caulfield Cup winner Mer De Glace, ridden by Australian jockey Damian Lane, is on course to continue Japan’s dominance of the Spring Racing Carnival’s major prizes.
Trained by Hisashi Shimizu Mer De Glace would become the twelfth horse in history to complete the Cups double.
Bet365 Geelong Cup winner Prince Of Arran trained by Charlie Fellowes and Aidan O’Brien trained duo Hunting Horn and Magic Wand, who both made their Australian debuts under champion jockey Ryan Moore at Moonee Valley Racing Club on October 26, are also entries.
Hunting Horn won the McCafe Moonee Valley Gold Cup, whilst Magic Wand ran a valiant fourth behind Lys Gracieux in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate.
Constantinople and Mirage Dancer, who have respectively joined the Melbourne stables of Lindsay Park (David Hayes, Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig) and Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, will aim to build on the solid foundations of their Caulfield Cup runs.
Constantinople shot to the head of the early Melbourne Cup markets, after his fast-finishing fourth in the Caulfield Cup. Mirage Dancer’s third ensured the former Sir Michael Stoute horse noteworthy.
Surprise Baby, winner of the Group 3 Bart Cummings at Flemington October 5; who split Mer De Glace and Mirage Dancer in the Caulfield Cup, and Danny O’Brien’s Vow And Declare, also remain in the Melbourne Cup latest declaration stage.
Saturday’s November 2 Group 3 Lexus Hotham Handicap, won last year by Prince Of Arran, offers a final chance for horses to secure a guaranteed start in the Melbourne Cup (provided they are still nominated for the race).
Entries will undergo a compulsory examination by Racing Victoria veterinarians, to determine their suitability to run.