Three previous Emirates Melbourne Cup winners are set to chase a second victory in ‘the race that stops a nation’ following today’s closure of nominations for the 2012 edition.
Defending champion Dunaden, fellow French-trained raider Americain (2010) and the grand Lloyd Williams-owned veteran Efficient (2007) feature among 151nominations for the $6.2 million 3200-metre showdown at Flemington on 6 November.
The Mikel Delzangles-trained Dunaden prevailed by the narrowest margin in Cup history 12 months ago and the scene is set for an epic rematch with the runner-up, English stayer Red Cadeaux, also among 23 internationally-trained entries for this year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup.
Australian-owned Americain, who returned recently to his French trainer Alain de Royer Dupre after campaigning here during the autumn, finished fourth in his title defence when favourite.
Dunaden and Americain headline a quartet of horses out to deliver the French a hat-trick of wins in Australia’s greatest race. Americain’s stablemate Shahwardi and the Andre Fabre-trained Brigantin are the others.
Fabre is part of a group of international trainers that could saddle up their first Melbourne Cup runner. The others are UK-based pair Marco Botti, trainer of recent American St Leger winner Jakkalberry, and John Gosden, who has the emerging Gatewood entered, along with Germany-based Paul Harley, trainer of Araldo.
Efficient, who resumes in the Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington after a narrow second in the Sydney Cup (3200m) at his most recent start in April, is one of seven entries for Williams and his private trainer Robert Hickmott.
A nine-year-old veteran of just 28 starts, the injury-plagued Efficient is preparing for his seventh Spring Racing Carnival, but has only started in one Melbourne Cup. If successful for a second time he would claim the record as the oldest Cup winner from eight-year-olds Toryboy (1865) and Catalogue (1938).
Other highlights within the nominations include;
Bart Cummings – The iconic trainer has nine chances to extend his record to 13 wins in the race, headed by imports Sanagas and Illo and local hope Precedence.
Dermot Weld – The Irish master, a two-time winner of the race with Vintage Crop (1993) and Media Puzzle (2002), has three prospective runners; Galileo’s Choice, Rite Of Passage and Sapphire.
Luca Cumani – Trainer of Cup favourite Mount Athos, who is looking for his first victory after narrow seconds with Purple Moon (2007) and Bauer (2008). Cumani also has the OTI-raced Ibicenco and Quest For Peace entered.
Aidan O’Brien –A chance to have first Cup runner since 2008 with lightly-raced Galileo entire I Have A Dream entered.
Godolphin – Four entries from Saeed bin Suroor; Ebor winner Willing Foe, Colour Vision, winner of the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June, last year’s Melbourne Cup sixth placegetter Lost In The Moment and Cavalryman.
More Joyous – Champion Sydney mare, an eight-time Group 1 winner, is one of 10 entries for racing’s first lady, Gai Waterhouse. Imports Glencadam Gold and Julienas have also been entered by the Hall of Fame trainer, along with Tullamore and Western Symbol.
Ethiopia – Mornington trainer Pat Carey is keeping his options open with this year’s ATC Derby winner, who has raced just four times.
Winchester – Four-time Group 1 winner in America now in the care of John Sadler, who also has Linton, Rusticated and The Chevron entered.
Peter Moody – Victoria’s premier trainer, who is yet to train a Melbourne Cup placegetter, has nine hopes to rectify that in 2012, headed by rejuvenated import Manighar. Others include Group 1-winning mare Lights of Heaven, VRC St Leger winner Vatuvei and imports Voila Ici and Sneak a Peek.
Team Hawkes – Has provided the first two Australasian-bred horses home in the past two Cups – Maluckyday, runner-up in 2010, and Niwot, eighth last year. Those two are again entered, along with classy four-year-old stablemate Polish Knight.
Mark Kavanagh – The most recent Australian trainer to win the Cup (Shocking, 2009) has the one-time favourite for last year’s race, December Draw, on the comeback trail.
Anthony Freedman – Brother of five-time winner Lee Freedman who finished third with his debut Cup runner Lucas Cranach in 2011. Freedman has directed a strong team towards this year’s Cup, headed by imports Mawingo, Val Champ and Fruehling.
Prairie Star – Formerly trained by John Hammond, the recent OTI Racing purchase will campaign for Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien this spring.
Weights for the Melbourne Cup will be released on Tuesday, 18 September, with first acceptances to be taken at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 9 October.