The 2014 Caulfield Cup nominations have been released; with 221 horses in contention to run in the Group 1 event at Caulfield on October 18.
Headlining the locally-trained entries for the 2014 Caulfield Cup is Melbourne Cup favourite The Offer, who stamped himself as one of the best stayers in Australia with a string of impressive performances during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
The Offer took out the Listed Ballarat Cup (2200m) during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival before winning the Group 3 Manion Cup (2400m), Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) and Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m).
The Montjeu gelding has impressed in both a barrier trial and exhibition gallop since starting his spring campaign and is rated a good chance of giving trainer Gai Waterhouse her first win in the Caulfield Cup since Descarado took out the 2010 edition of the race.
Another Group 1 winner that has been included in the nominations for the Caulfield Cup is David Payne-trained Criterion.
Criterion has raced consistently at the highest level of racing since making his debut in 2012 and after finishing second in both the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m), he broke through for Group 1 victories in the Rosehill Guineas (2000m) and Australian Derby (2500m).
Trainer David Payne has indicated that the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) will be the major 2014 Spring Racing Carnival target for Criterion, but he could run in the Caulfield Cup if he fails to fire at weight-for-age level.
Fawkner won the 2013 edition of the Caulfield Cup for Team Williams and the talented gelding is joined in the nominations for this year’s races by 11 stablemates including Sea Moon, Green Moon and new acquisition Alamandin.
Team Williams have been thrilled with the progress that Fawkner has made since starting his spring preparations and the son of Reset is set to have the chance to become the first horses since equine superstar Rising Fast to win the Caulfield Cup in back-to-back years.
Silent Achiever finished a tough eighth in the Caulfield Cup last year, after being galloped on earlier in the race and she has gone to another level since the application of blinkers; taking out the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 The BMW (2400m) during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Both the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate are on the agenda for the daughter of O’Reilly, but the Caulfield Cup looms as the most logical race as she steps up to 3200 metres for the first time in the Cox Plate.
Leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller is chasing his first win in the Caulfield Cup and he has included a remarkable 23 horses in the nominations for the race, including imported stayers Our Voodoo Prince, He’s Your Man and Opinion as well as last year’s beaten favourite Hawkspur.
Other locally trained-gallopers that have been included in the nominations for the Caulfield Cup include David Hayes-trained Jet Away, talented mare Solicit, Crown Oaks winner Kirramosa, four-time Group 1 winner Silent Achiever, Makybe Diva’s half-sister La Amistad, consistent stayer Sertorius, last year’s third placegetter Dear Demi, Kris Lees-trained Lucia Valentina and the progressive Star Rolling.
The Caulfield Cup has become a target for European-trained horses in recent years and a record 44 international nominations have been taken for the 2014 edition of the race.
Rising European trainer Marco Botti finished second in last year’s Caulfield Cup with Dandino and he will have a number of chances to go one better during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival after he included Dandino, Mount Athos, Renew, Kelinni and Seismos in the nominations for the race.
Mount Athos was previously prepared by Luca Cumani, but joined the Botti stable at the end of last year and is set to return to Australia for the third year in a row, while OTI Racing-owned Renew and Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock-owned Seismos will be having their maiden campaigns in Australia.
There are plenty of other leading European trainers eyeing the 2014 Caulfield Cup and Roger Varian, Sir Michael Stoute, Aidan O’Brien and the Godolphin operation have all included stayers in the Caulfield Cup nominations.
Godolphin-owned Cavalryman finished 12th in the 2012 Melbourne Cup and has earned another trip to Australia after taking out the Group 2 Princess Of Wales’s Stakes (2414m) at Newmarket on July 10 and the Group 2 Goodwood Cup (3218m) on July 31.
Michael Stoute-trained Hillstar finished second behind Cavalryman in the Princess of Wales Stakes and third placegetter Pether’s Moon was also included in the Caulfield Cup nominations.
Talented mare Ambivalent scored a maiden win at Group 1 level in the Pretty Polly Stakes (2011m) at Curragh last year and she took out the Middleton Stakes (2092) at York in May before finishing third behind Cirrus Des Aigles and Flintshire in the Group 1 Coronation Cup (2423m) at Epsom Downs in June.
No Japanese stayer has contested the Caulfield Cup since Tokai Trick finished 12th behind Descarado in 2010, but Admire Rakti, Admire Flight and Bande have been nominated for the Melbourne Racing Club’s feature race.
Admire Rakti has been touted as a potential Caulfield Cup/Melbourne Cup contender for a number of years and he is expected to be joined in Australia by stablemate Admire Flight, while Bande is a chance of heading to Australia after finishing third behind Gold Ship and Admire Rakti in the Group 2 Hanshin Daishoten Stakes (2614m) earlier this year.
Other internationally-trained horses that have been nominated for the Caulfield Cup include Angel Gabrial, Biographer, Havana Beat, Kingfisher, Moment In Time, Mukhadram, My Quest For Peace, Orator, Pharrel, Sir Walter Scott and Smoking Sun.
First acceptances will be released for the Caulfield on September 9, while the final field for the $3 million race will be announced on October 14.