This weekend at Flemington, a small field of seven runners will compete in the Group 3 Archer Stakes, which is the final ballot-exempt race for the $7.5 million Melbourne Cup on November 7.
Five of the seven runners in the Archer can still gain a spot in the Melbourne Cup, and with Ladies Man sitting 24th in the order of entry, it is expected that all seven will run and attempt to lock in their spot.
Paying +650 and giving his nearest rival 3kg, the Allan Sharrock-trained runner will be aiming to become only the third runner in the past 20 years to win this race while carrying 59kg or more.
Last start, Athabascan had no luck in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup, where he settled on the rail and didn’t see clear air for most of the final 300m.
However, the John O’Shea-trained stayer has opened as the clear +170 favourite with online bookmakers as he attempts to win his way into the race that stops the nation.
The Kris Lees-trained Kalapour (+340) recorded consecutive third-place finishes in The Metropolitan over 2400m and the ATC St Leger Stakes over 2600m, which should have him tuned up nicely for the 2500m contest on Saturday.
Mostly Cloudy (+340) has been on a Melbourne Cup path all preparation, and after his fourth-place finish in The Bart Cummings, the Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young-trained galloper will need to win to book his place in the field.
Ciaron Maher & David Eustace will have five runners in the Cup if United Nations (+600) can claim the Archer Stakes on Saturday; however, he will need to recapture the form of his runner-up finish in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes from two starts back.
The Archer Stakes will be the second race on the Derby Day program, scheduled to jump at 1pm AEDT.
Archer Stakes 2023 Field