Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon, Caulfield Guineas winner All Too Hard and Victoria Derby winner Fiveandahalfstar are among the 48 nominations for the Group 1 $1m Darley Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 9.
Green Moon capped off a great Spring for owner Lloyd Williams and trainer Robert Hickmott winning the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 6 as well as taking out the Group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington a month earlier.
All Too Hard and Fiveandahalfstar have also been nominated for the Group 1 $500,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 2 and that could be a better option for the three year olds.
All Too Hard brought to an end the winning run of champion two year old Pierro when he was too strong for the Gai Waterhouse colt in the Group 1 $1m BECK Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on October 13.
And Fiveandahalfstar handled the class rise when trainer Anthony Cummings stepped the Hotel Grand three year old up to Group 1 grade and took out the $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on November 3.
Trainer Mike Moroney is confident that his grey war horse Glass Harmonium will be fit to contest the Australian Cup after recovering from knee surgery over the summer.
‘In this day and age with water walkers you can get them back much quicker than in the past,” Moroney said.
Glass Harmonium looked to have back to back Group 1 $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) wrapped up when he led the field well into the straight but faulted slightly at the 300m before battling on for second to the fast finishing Alcopop.
Moroney was adamant that Glass Harmonium would have won had he not sustained his injury at that point after leading all of the way to win the 2011 Mackinnon Stakes.
Glass Harmonium had his knee cleaned out and Moroney is anticipating a complete recovery, giving the seven year old another chance to win over his favoured 2000m.
As well as a win and a close second in consecutive Mackinnon Stakes, Glass Harmonium was narrowly beaten by December Draw in the 2000m Turnbull Stakes at Flemington during the 2011 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
‘On his day he is arguably the best 2000 metre horse in Australia,” Moroney said.
But Moroney was quick to add that he should take Moonee Valley out the equation with Glass Harmonium not at his best on the tight turning circuit with the grandstands so close to the track.
”At the Valley he gets a bit claustrophobic with the crowd around them at the start, whereas here at Flemington the 2000 metre start is well away from the public and suits him perfectly.’
Moroney has also nominated his old stager Wall Street as well as restricted galloper Flashy Fella and last start Flemington winner Zabisco.
Gai Waterhouse has nominated Group 1 Metropolitan winner Glencadam Gold and tough stayer Reuben Percival.
Glencadam Gold is well advanced for a return to the racetrack after a tough Spring Carnival and ran third over 1200m in a recent Randwick barrier trial when ridden by Tommy Berry.
“It is freakish how he has come back,” Berry said.
“The first day I saw him walk into the yard and he looked a big gross horse with gloss all over his coat.
“It is not how horses usually look after a tough Melbourne Cup preparation.”
Leading Victorian trainer Peter Moody has nominated imports My Quest For Peace and Sneak A Peak and is looking for back to back Australian Cups after winning last year with his star import Manighar.