Melbourne Cup hopefuls trimmed to 47
Cox Plate hero So You Think heads 47 horses still in the running for a Melbourne Cup start.
There were few unexpected withdrawals when third declarations for Tuesday week’s race were taken on Monday.
International stayers accounted for 11 entries – up from six left in the race at the same stage last year.
The overseas representation includes the Godolphin-owned Holberg and Eastern Aria – two horses who are well down in the latest order of entry and in danger of missing a start.
So You Think’s trainer Bart Cummings, chasing his 13th Melbourne Cup win, has a total of four horses still in contention.
His back-up entries include Moonee Valley Gold Cup winner Precedence and Caulfield Cup failures Faint Perfume and Dariana.
Precedence, however, may be forced to run again at Flemington on Saturday to try to seal a berth.
As expected Irish St Leger winner Sans Frontieres (first in the order of entry), Zabrasive (16th), Doctor Fremantle (25th) and Vigor (27th) were the only horses among the top 40 ranked entries not to accept.
Their absence has done little to relieve the anxiety among connections of many Cup aspirants.
This Saturday’s Group Three The Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington is the most crucial race before final acceptances at 5pm on Victoria Derby Day.
The winner of The Lexus is exempt from ballot in the Melbourne Cup which provides horses lower in the order of entry an opportunity to leapfrog their way into the field.
Sydney galloper Triple Honour was missing from the latest declarations after finishing out of the placings in the Caulfield Cup.
His absence leaves trainer Chris Waller with Metal Bender as his lone Cup hope.
But Metal Bender must run well in the Mackinnon Stakes on Saturday for Waller to press ahead with a Cup start.
Caulfield Cup runner-up Harris Tweed remains in contention despite suffering a colic attack at the weekend.
The non-nonsense stayer received veterinary treatment and co-trainer Bjorn Baker has told Racing Victorian stewards the galloper is on the road to recovery.
There were 42 horses left in the running for Melbourne Cup at the same declaration stage in 2009.
A field of 24 will line up in next week’s $6 million race.