Big Orange, pictured winning at Goodwood, heads weights on 56kg
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
BIG ORANGE has become the new joint topweight for the Emirates Melbourne Cup after 32 hopefuls remained in contention at Monday’s second acceptance stage.
One of ten internationally-trained runners still in the reckoning, eight of whom are safely inside the 24-runner field limit, the Michael Bell-trained staying star, who finished fifth 12 months ago, heads the field with Our Ivanhowe on 56kg after the Chris Waller-trained Preferment was, as expected, taken out of the race. The weights will rise 1kg across the board should the top pair line up.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Scottish also remains in contention, with a start in the Cup now seeming more likely than it did in the wake of his Caulfield Cup second.
He is one of seven Godolphin horses left in the frame, with his stablemate Qewy sitting 25th in the order of entry following his Geelong Cup win.
Qewy needs at least two runners to come out to be guaranteed a start, given the winner of Saturday’s Lexus Stakes gains an automatic place in the Melbourne Cup field, final acceptances for which will be taken on Saturday.
Favourite on track
John O’Shea has reported Godolphin’s Hartnell, the Melbourne Cup favourite, fit and well after his battling second to the brilliant Winx in Saturday’s Cox Plate.
“He’s come through the run better than I expected and I’m happy with where he is at,” the trainer said.
“If at any stage we are not happy with him we will have no hesitation in pulling him out, but this stage everything is on track and we’re excited to have a strong chance in Australia’s great race.”
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