The 2016 Australian Cup nominations have been released and a number of the most talented horses in Australia and New Zealand are a chance of running in the Group 1 event that will be held at Flemington on March 12.
Criterion has been one of the most consistent horses in Australia in the past two years and he could be given the opportunity to claim a fifth win at Group 1 level in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m).
The Sebring entire took out the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at the end of his autumn campaign last year before he took on some of the best horses in the world in England and he made a successful return to Australian racing with a win in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) before he finished in the placings in both the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
The Lindsay Park team of David Hayes and Tom Dabernig quinelled the Australian Cup last year and Criterion could be joined in the race by Almoonqith, Bold Sniper, Extra Choice, Extra Zero, He Or She, He’s Our Rokkii, Rising Romance, Risque, Sacred Eye, Sovereign Nation, Tashbeeh and Velox.
Another trainer with a number of talented horses in the Australian Cup nominations is John O’Shea, who could have up to six horses in the $1.5 million race.
Hartnell failed to perform at his best in the spring, but he could return to Melbourne for a crack at the Group 1 event, while he could be joined in the race by Arab Drawn, Bow Creek, Hauraki and The Metropolitan winner Magic Hurricane.
One of the most interesting horses in the Australian Cup nominations is Caulfield Cup winner Mongolian Khan.
Mongolian Khan produced an outstanding performance to take out the Caulfield Cup, but he was ruled out of the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 3 after he suffered a nasty colic attack.
Thankfully, Mongolian Khan was able to recover from the illness and trainer Murray Baker is confident that he will be return to Australia for an autumn campaign.
Three-year-olds have a strong record in the Australian Cup and a number of talented colts, geldings and fillies could contest this year’s race.
Caulfield Guineas winner Press Statement is likely to remain in Sydney this preparation, but trainer Chris Waller has kept his options open and included the star colt in the Australian Open nominations, while he also has Devil Hawk, Torgersen and Vanbrugh in the entries.
Other three-year-olds that could contest the 2016 Australian Cup include Hierarchal, Palentino, Perfect Reflection, Tarzino and Xtravagant.
The likes of Fawkner, Fenway, Gust Of Wind, Happy Trails, Preferment, Mourinho, Signoff, Stratum Star, Suavito and The United States have also been included in the 2016 Australian Cup nominations.