Racing Victoria officials have been amazed with the quantity and quality of nominations for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups despite uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Entries for the features were announced on Thursday and the Caulfield Cup, which will be run on October 17, attracted 177 nominations, an increase of 29 from last year and its highest figure in five years.
The Melbourne Cup, which will be run on November 3, received 174 nominations which was up 22 on last year’s figure.
The Caulfield Cup received 34 international entries and the Melbourne Cup 30.
Greg Carpenter, Racing Victoria’s executive general manager, racing, said they were uncertain how the impact of the pandemic would affect the number of nominations and were delighted with the increase in entries for both races.
“It is pleasing that there is tremendous depth among the entries for both races with 29 Group One winners in the Caulfield Cup and 25 in the Melbourne Cup,” Carpenter said.
Legendary Irish father and son Aidan and Joseph O’Brien have entered 20 horses for the Caulfield Cup and 16 for the Melbourne Cup between them.
Carpenter pointed out that Aidan O’Brien had entered three of the best stayers in the world specifically for the Caulfield Cup in six-time Group One winner Magical, Magic Wand and Japan.
He has also entered 2019 English Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck for both Cups.
The winners of the past two Irish Derbies, Sovereign (2019) and Santiago (2020), are among nine horses he has entered for the Melbourne Cup.
Joseph O’Brien, the youngest person to train the winner of the Melbourne Cup when successful with Rekindling in 2017, has nominated seven horses for both races, five of them owned by Lloyd Williams.
Included among the O’Brien-Williams entries is Master Of Reality, who was second past the post in last year’s Melbourne Cup before being demoted to fourth on protest.
Carpenter said he was also pleased with the quality of Australian stayers.
Local maestro Danny O’Brien is to the fore entering last year’s Caulfield Cup runner-up and Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare for both races.
His powerful Cups contingent also includes South Australian Derby winner Russian Camelot, Adelaide Cup winner King Of Leogrance and VRC Oaks winner Miami Bound.
Chris Waller has a strong squad headed by star mare Verry Elleegant, Shared Ambition, Kinane, and Finche.
RV also announced it had received travel exemptions from the federal government for a limited number of staff from six international stables to enter Australia to look after their horses.
The approved staff members will have to quarantine for two weeks in either Sydney or Adelaide.
RV is planning for a flight from Europe to enter Australia on October 2 with 32 horses aboard consisting of 16 on a one-way ticket and another 16 on a return ticket.
Carpenter said a number of logistical challenges were still to be overcome before that could become a reality.