Big names missing from Caulfield Cup & Cox Plate nominations

Verry Elleegant wins Caulfield Cup
Verry Elleegant will not be back to defend her title in the Caulfield Cup, with connections instead opting for the Cox Plate. (Pat Scala/Racing Photos)

Both the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate fields got one step closer to being finalised on Tuesday, and there were some notable absentees as the third round of acceptances were taken.

Just 31 horses remain in contention for the Caulfield Cup on October 16, while the Cox Plate still has 26 runners vying for a spot on the honour roll.

Some notable horses who have not paid up for the Caulfield feature are Mount Popa, Hungry Heart, Superstorm, Grand Promenade and, most notably, 2020 Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet and reigning Caulfield Cup champion Verry Elleegant.

While there are no internationally trained horses still in the hunt, Ocean Billy – now with the Chris Waller yard – will race in the 2400m event in his first start in Australia.

Incentivise is the clear favourite for the Caulfield Cup and will also have to carry the top weight, with all weights to be raised 1.5kg to ensure that the high marker carries 57kg.

Last year’s third-placegetter, The Chosen One, has accepted for what will be the New Zealand entire’s third Caulfield Cup start, while Homesman will be looking to go one better than he did in 2018 when a narrow second to Best Solution.

A number of Sydneysiders will make their way to Caulfield next Saturday for the $5 million race, with the Metropolitan Handicap quinella of Montefilia and Entente both paid up, as well as ATC Australian Oaks winners Colette and Duais.

ATC Derby winners Quick Thinker and Explosive Jack looking to add a Caulfield Cup to their resume, while this year’s Turnbull Stakes runner-up, Young Werther, is still in the hunt for his maiden Group 1 victory.

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Floating Artist is currently 31st in the Caulfield Cup order of entry despite winning his past three starts, but he can earn ballot exemption into the race with a win in this Saturday’s Herbert Power Stakes (2400m).

Seven days after the Caulfield Cup, racing will head to Moonee Valley for the 101st running of the 2040m Cox Plate.

Like most years, we are set for another classic edition of the ‘greatest two minutes of sport’ with 17 Group 1 winners having accepted for the great race.

Annabel Neasham’s boom galloper Zaaki is the current odds-on favourite for the Cox Plate, and that quote could firm even more if he salutes as a $1.30 favourite in Saturday’s Group 1 Might And Power Stakes at Caulfield.

Incentivise also holds a nomination for the Cox Plate still, despite owners stating during the week that it is a backup plan if something were to cause the gelding to miss a run in the Caulfield Cup.

Sir Dragonet is still a chance of making it back-to-back wins in the Moonee Valley feature, while Verry Elleegant will be looking to claim her 10th Group 1 victory.

Six horses will be aiming to join the likes of So You Think and Shamus Award on the honour roll as three-year-old victors, with three of those – Anamoe, Artorius and Captivant – being Group 1 winners already.

Elephant and Callsign Mav will be flying the flag for New Zealand, while dual Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Joseph O’Brien will be looking to add a Cox Plate to his CV with State Of Rest, who comes off a Group 1 win at Saratoga in the United States.

The Cox Plate will be run under weight-for-age conditions on October 23.

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