Just 35 horses remain in contention for next Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup after fourth acceptances were released on Monday morning.
Some 18 horses have come out of the race for a spot in the final 24, including fancied four-year-old Young Werther.
Trainer Danny O’Brien announced at midday that Young Wether’s CT scan had highlighted an area of concern.
“It’s disappointing news, but we fully support the RVL protocols,” O’Brien’s tweet read.
“We are grateful that an issue has been found early & we can reset for next year.”
Among other exclusions are Gold Trip, Mirage Dancer, Attorney, Le Don De Vie and Charms Star.
With only 24 horses able to run in the race that stops a nation, this Saturday’s Hotham Stakes will be hotly contested, as the winner earns ballot exemption for the big race next Tuesday if they have paid up.
While that means Sir Lucan, who is currently 24th in the Melbourne Cup order of entry, would lose his spot to the winner of the Hotham, there is a possibility that Fun Fact (23rd) could lose his spot in the race too, as three-year-old Forgot You would pass the ballot clause should he justify favouritism in Saturday’s Victoria Derby.
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The Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young-trained son of Savabeel is coming off a win in the Moonee Valley Vase (2040m) and has paid up for the Melbourne Cup, so a win in the Derby would just about secure him a spot in the $8 million race.
Nine horses who remain outside the top 23 in the Melbourne Cup ballot have been nominated for the Hotham Stakes: Amade, Constantinople, Emissary, Floating Artist, Fun Fact, Great House, King’s Charisma, Mankayan and Mosh Music.
Amade, Constantinople and Mosh Music have also accepted for Wednesday’s Group 3 Bendigo Cup over 2400m, alongside fellow Melbourne Cup hopeful Tooradin.
A win in the Bendigo Cup for either of those four gallopers could be enough to secure a weight penalty, which would elevate them up the order of entry and just about secure them a start in the Melbourne Cup.
The 2020 Melbourne Cup winner, Twilight Payment, is the top weight in his bid to go back-to-back with 58kg assigned to him, while international Spanish Mission joins Verry Elleegant and this year’s Caulfield Cup winner, Incentivise, on 57kg.
Incentivise remains a dominant +130 favourite for the great race, while Spanish Mission (+550) and Grand Promenade (+900) round out the top three.
Mares Tralee Rose and Verry Elleegant share the fourth line of betting at +1200, with the latter out to win her 10th Group 1 race having finished third in the Cox Plate last weekend.
The final field for the 2021 Melbourne Cup will be announced on Saturday after the running of the final race at Flemington for Derby Day.