There has been a smaller than expected number of nominations for this year’s Melbourne Cup at Flemington this November.
Just 163 horses have accepted for the first round of nominations, which is a far cry from last year’s 253.
As expected jumps champion Black And Bent features in the Melbourne Cup nominations after winning all of his past five starts, including the Grand National Hurdle at Sandown.
While the six-year-old gelding has won ten of his 16 starts over the hurdles, he has also proved incredibly successful in his flat racing career.
The Melbourne Cup will be a big step up in grade for Black And Bent, who has never before competed in Stakes race over the flat.
Senior part owner Mike Symons believes that while it’s a long shot, there is no harm in trying.
“You never know what can happen – it’s just like a ticket in the lottery,” Symons said.
“It is the desire of the owners to prove there is not much difference between good jumpers and good flat horses,” Symons said earlier in the week.
“We are trying to bridge the gap and not have jumps racing seen as being for all the slow coaches. It’s important.”
Black And Bent’s trainer Robert Smerdon shared Symon’s optimism.
“Jumps has been revived to a large degree and he’s been the flagbearer with his dashing front-running style,” Smerdon said.
“He’s built up a following. There has been a lot of interest in him.
“It’s not the silliest thing in the world.
“It’s a game of dreams, so let’s see if it can be done.
“If you think you can run fourth or fifth, why can’t you run second or third, and if you can do that why can’t you win?”
Black And Bent will now attempt to qualify for the Melbourne Cup by winning either The Metropolitan in Sydney, the Ansett Classic at Mornington or the Bart Cummings Handicap at Flemington in October.