Race is on for final Melbourne Cup berths

A total of 47 horses remain in contention for the Melbourne Cup following second acceptances for the $7 million race at Flemington.

Among the 47 are 15 internationally trained horses of which 11 are currently guaranteed a start in the race on November 6.

With a safety limit of 24, places are still up for grabs with the winner of Saturday’s Hotham Handicap gaining an automatic start while Thinkin’ Big can gain a run if he wins the Victoria Derby.

Currently the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Zacada is No. 24 and will attempt to secure a Cup berth by winning the Hotham (2500m).

Those horses occupying the five spots directly outside the top 24 on Monday are New Zealand-trained Sir Charles Road (25), Scottish entry Nakeeta (26), Japanese visitor Sole Impact (27), Mick Price’s Miss Admiration (28) and UK visitor A Prince of Arran (29).

Notable withdrawals on Monday were Cox Plate placegetter Humidor, Caulfield Cup runner-up Homesman, the injured Kings Will Dream and a trio of horses who finished unplaced in the Moonee Valley Gold Cup, The Taj Mahal, Egg Tart and Big Duke.

Moonee Valley Gold Cup winner Ventura Storm escaped a penalty for the Melbourne Cup but is safely in the field at No. 18.

Racing Victoria handicapper Greg Carpenter said he did not penalise the past two winners of the Moonee Valley Cup, Grand Marshal and Who Shot Thebarman.

“The weight conditions of the Moonee Valley Gold Cup favoured Ventura Storm given he did not carry a penalty, being winless for 740 days, and as a result he has not been penalised for the Melbourne Cup,” Carpenter said.

The last horse to win the Moonee Valley Gold Cup-Melbourne Cup double was Kingston Rule in 1990.

Yucatan Ire is the $4.50 Cup favourite ahead of Cross Counter and Magic Circle at $11 with Avilius and Muntahaa on the next line at $13.