The Melbourne Cup is the headline act of the Melbourne Spring Carnival features to take place and the countdown is on to the 2020 edition of the Race The Stops A Nation.
The Spring Carnival will be like no other in 2020, for unfortunate reasons due to the global Covid-19 pandemic rather than any record breaking stats. But that hasn’t stopped the excitement beginning to build among horse racing fans.
The grandstands of Caulfield on Caulfield Cup Day on October 17, Moonee Valley for Cox Plate Day on October 24, and Flemington for Melbourne Cup Day on November 3, may not be packed for any of the three feature races of the Spring Carnival. In fact, they may be empty if small crowds aren’t permitted to return to venues in Victoria before then.
But the news that international runners will be able to head to Melbourne to contest the 2020 Melbourne Cup, coupled with the two-month countdown to the first Tuesday in November, has combined to get punters itching for the Flemington showpiece.
Entries for the $8 million Melbourne Cup are up on 2019, the race in which Australian-bred Vow And Declare ended the run of international runners winning the famous race.
Despite a limited number of international trainers being permitted to enter Victoria for the Spring Carnival, the numbers of total entries have jumped from 152 to 174.
Almost a sixth of the 174 entries are from international stables with 30 declared runners from overseas, and there is no rising optimism that the 2020 Melbourne Cup will live up to the billing of previous editions.
The entries includes 25 Group 1 winners, underlining once again the high-quality field that will line up at Flemington.
Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien, who won the race with Rekindling in 2017, and his father Aidan O’Brien make up 16 of the 30 overseas entries for the Melbourne Cup. They include the Joseph-trained Master Of Reality, who finished second last year before being demoted to fourth.
Father Aidan has entered the 2019 Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, Sovereign and Santiago among others as he bids to win an elusive Melbourne Cup.
It was another O’Brien who won the race last year as Vow And Declare triumphed for Australia. Danny O’Brien looks set to send the champion on a mission to join an elite band of back-to-back winners.
Stablemates Russian Camelot, one of the favourites since winning the South Australian Derby, and Miami Bound, who won the VRC Oaks on Cup week last year, give O’Brien a strong hand once again.
It all stacks up to the 2020 Melbourne Cup being another notable race and once which will have a high-quality field, despite the possibility of not crowd to welcome home the winner.
image credit: Chris Phutully via Flickr