The internationals are out in force this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival with 28 of the 170 Caulfield Cup nominations taken by Racing Victoria on Tuesday prepared in the Northern Hemisphere.
Nominations for a number of spring majors including the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) and $3 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) closed on Tuesday, numbers for both October features down on last season.
This time last year the Caulfield Cup nominations featured 209 hopefuls and 25 internationals.
While overall figures for the world’s richest mile and a half handicap were down, there are three extra non-Southern Hemisphere trained raiders looking to win the spring major on Saturday October 15.
Last year’s Caulfield Cup runner-up was Ed Dunlop’s British galloper Trip To Paris, the Champs Elysees gelding defeated a half-length by New Zealander Mongolian Khan.
Dunlop, best known as the trainer of triple Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux, has Trip To Paris in the Caulfield Cup mix again looking to go one better.
The best represented of the European trainers with 12 nominees is Ireland’s Aiden O’Brien who has enjoyed previous Group 1 success down under taking out the 2014 Cox Plate with Adelaide.
He boasts strong numbers looking to add a Caulfield Cup to his trophy cabinet after posting his 282nd Group 1 career win last Saturday with Minding winning the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
Heading O’Brien’s Caulfield Cup charge are last year’s Cox Plate third placegetter Highland Reel and current favourite in futures betting for the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) on the first Tuesday of November Order Of St George.
Galileo stallion Highland Reel backed-up from his Cox Plate placing to the Chris Waller-trained Winx last year to win December’s Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin on International Race Day.
He was last seen posting another overseas elite level at Ascot on July 23 taking out the lucrative Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2012m) and is nominated for both the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate in 2016.
Order Of St George meanwhile is a fellow Galileo entire, the smart stayer earning top spot in all-in Melbourne Cup betting after a strong three length win in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup (4023m).
Part-owned by five time Melbourne Cup winning Australian racehorse owner Lloyd Williams, Order Of St George won’t be confirmed for a Spring Cups bid until weights for the ‘race that stops a nation’ are released later in the season.
While trainers from the UK, France, Germany and Ireland are all represented in the Caulfield Cup nominations there are no Japanese-trained entries despite the win of the Tomoyuki Umeda-trained Admire Rakti (2014) in the classic two years ago.
“We are delighted to receive entries across the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate from 19 international trainers representing the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, and Ireland,” Racing Victoria’s Executive General Manager of Racing Greg Carpenter said of this year’s nominations.
“The international profile of the Spring Racing Carnival continues to grow each year, which is reflected by both the quality of nominations received and the array of world-class trainers represented.
“The most significant story amongst the international contingent is Irish training great Aidan O’Brien, who has bolstered his search for a second Australian Group 1 victory by submitting a record 23 nominations across the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate.
“More broadly, English St Leger winner Simple Verse, Ascot Gold Cup winner Order Of St George, French star Erupt and Sir Michael Stoute’s Exosphere are among the high-profile international entries for the Caulfield Cup.”
As well as Trip To Paris (2nd) the other Caulfield Cup place-getter from last year Our Ivanhowe (3rd) is also nominated to return this spring for Lee & Anthony Freedman.
The German expat was last seen winning Brisbane’s Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) in May and he is expected to make his seven-year-old debut with a resuming run at Caulfield Racecourse in the $500,000 Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) on September 24.
Record breaking Victorian trainer Darren Weir has 17 Caulfield Cup nominated horses led by his reigning Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance who runs first-up in the $500,000 Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on September 10.
The next stage of Caulfield Cup acceptances close on September 6 followed by the second and third declarations on September 20 and October 4.
October 11 marks the release of the official 2016 Caulfield Cup field of final acceptors.