The Melbourne Cup field is set to have a Japanese flavour for the first time since 2010 after Admire Rakti and Bande were included in the nominations for the 2014 edition of the race.
Japanese-trained duo Delta Blues and Pop Rock quinelled the 2006 edition of the Melbourne Cup and Japanese horses were expected to dominate the race, but the outbreak of Equine Influenza in Australia which led to the tightening of quarantine restrictions has generally kept Japanese horses away from Australia, with the exception of Tokai Trick who finished 12th in the 2010 Melbourne Cup and Hana’s Gold who won the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival earlier this year.
Admire Rakti was touted as a potential Melbourne Cup contender in 2013 before connections opted against making the trip to Australia, but the Heart’s Cry entire is set to take his place in the field for the 2014 edition, with jockey Zac Purton revealing last month that he had been booked to ride the stayer in both the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Melbourne Cup.
The seven-year-old has been a consistent performed at Group level since 2012 and he finished fourth in the 2013 edition of the Group 1 Tenno Sho (3200m) at Kyoto and the Group 1 Japan Cup (2400m) in Tokyo at the end of last year.
Bande has only had one start at Group level, but local experts rate him as an outstanding staying prospect with similar form lines to 2006 Melbourne Cup winner Delta Blues.
The Authorized entire made his racing debut at the start of last year and he stamped himself as a potential contender at Group level with a tough sixth place finish behind Yule Singing in the Group 2 St Leger Trial (2200m) on September 17 last year.
Bande went on to make his Group 1 debut with a third place finish in the Japan St Leger (3000m) at Kyoto on October 20 and was third behind Gold Ship and Admire Rakti in the Group 2 Hansh Daishoten (3000m) earlier this year.
The four-year-old started his spring campaign with a dominant five lengths win in the Listed Sapporo Nikkei (2600m) on August 10 and he is now on the second line of the 2014 Melbourne Cup betting market with Ladbrokes Australia, while Admire Rakti is available at Melbourne Cup odds of $21.
Christophe Lemaire, who won the 2011 Melbourne Cup on Dunaden, has been booked to ride Bande in the 2014 Melbourne Cup.
A full list of 2014 Melbourne Cup nominations can be found here.