The Melbourne Cup field has been finalised with no further withdrawals, leaving Japan’s Admire Rakti still favourite but support rising for late qualifier Signoff.
Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti is the topweight with 58.5kg – the Japanese raider selected barrier eight at the draw on Saturday evening.
Earlier in the day, the Lloyd Williams horse Green Moon was withdrawn after suffering a cracked hoof, but no other horses were taken out before final acceptances on Saturday afternoon.
Signoff jumped to equal favouritism in the Melbourne Cup betting after making the field, but eased slightly after drawing barrier 16.
The Darren Weir-trained horse grabbed a spot in the Cup field when it won the Group Three Lexus Stakes, beating Big Memory and La Amistad.
“He’ll probably ride forward, try to ride in the first half dozen (runners),” Weir told TVN.
“Hopefully he’ll make his own luck from there.”
Signoff has 51kg in the Cup, but Brazilian jockey Joao Moreira may struggle to make the weight so Signoff may carry half a kilo more on Tuesday.
“He (Moreira) said he was going to struggle to ride 51, probably (more like 51.5),” Weir said.
“We spoke to the owners, their very happy with that, we’ll go with that – we’re happy to get him in.”
Only Shocking (2009) and Brew (2000) have won the Cup in recent times after winning the Lexus.
The David Hayes’ trained Unchain My Heart (barrier five) took the final spot when Shoreham finished out of the top three in the Lexus and Amralah finished out of the placings in the Mackinnon Stakes.
Admire Rakti will be one of 11 internationally-trained runners in the field, equalling the record for the race.
Some of the other internationals in the field include Red Cadeaux (barrier 15) who will be running in the Cup for the fourth time, Godolphin’s Cavalryman and Willing Foe (three and 17 respectively) and German horse Protectionist (11).
Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Suroor was at the draw for his two horses, who will try to earn the global racing operation’s first Cup success on Tuesday.
“It’s a great race, we’ve tried (to win it) for years,” he said.
“We’ve been second three times, this year we hope to get the result.”
Cavalryman is one of the older horses in the field at eight years old. The horse will be ridden by Craig Williams and comes into the Cup with strong form, with a second place in this yeatr’s Dubai Gold Cup followed by wins at Newmarket and Goodwood before a fourth place in the Lonsdale Cup at York in August.
“He’s different this year,” Bin Suroor said.
“He’s better when he’s fresh, this year he’s in really good form.”
Among the local hopes, last year’s Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner drew nine and Sea Moon drew 18 for Williams, Lucia Valentina drew well in barrier two while trainer Chris Waller has a trio in the race – Junoob (seven), Who Shot Thebarman (13) and Opinion (14).
Bart and James Cummings’ horse, Precedence, will run in the Cup from barrier 20 – if it wins it will provide the “Cups King” Bart Cummings with his 13th Cup winner.
James Cumming told TVN he was not worried about Precedence’s wide barrier.
“It’s very hard to get a horse in the race … we’re just going to enjoy it,” he said.
“This year there are a few more nine year olds in the race.
“He’s in great nick, he’s been lightly raced recently … and his form reads well.”
Barrier Draw (Saddlecloth, Name, Barrier):
1. Admire Rakti (8)
2. Cavalryman (3)
3. Fawkner (9)
4. Red Cadeaux (15)
5. Protectionist (11)
6. Sea Moon (18)
7. Seismos (1)
8. Junoob (7)
9. Royal Diamond (6)
10. Gatewood (22)
11. Mutual Regard (12)
12. Who Shot Thebarman (13)
13. Willing Foe (17)
14. My Ambivalent (4)
15. Precedence (20)
16. Brambles (21)
17. Mr O’Ceirin (19)
18. Au Revoir (23)
19. Lidari (10)
20. Opinion (14)
21. Araldo (24)
22. Lucia Valentina (2)
23. Unchain My Heart (5)
24. Signoff (16)