Local star and multiple Group 1 winner Humidor has been assigned the topweight for both the $5.15m Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) and the $7.3m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Racing Victoria’s (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing & Participant Wellbeing, Greg Carpenter, this morning unveiled the weights for Australia’s two richest handicap races, announcing that the Darren Weir-trained galloper had been allocated 58kg in both.
Humidor competed in both races last year, finishing fifth in the Caulfield Cup and 19th in the Melbourne Cup, which this year will be held respectively at Caulfield on Saturday 20 October, and at Flemington on Tuesday, 6 November.
The six-year-old gelding, who ran Winx so close in the 2017 Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m), is a worthy topweight, having last week claimed his third Group 1 in the Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
However, with the Spring Racing Carnival celebrating 25 years of international competition, it is significant that overseas horses feature prominently thereafter filling four of the next five spots in the Caulfield Cup weights and six of the next seven in the Melbourne Cup.
Princess of Wales’s Stakes (2400m) winner Best Solution, aiming to deliver a first victory in the Melbourne Cup for Godolphin and a second in the Caulfield Cup, has been allocated 57.5kg in both races; while the Australian Bloodstock-owned Torcedor, whose German trainer Andreas Wöhler won the 2014 Melbourne Cup with Protectionist, has 57kg in both cups.
Champion Irish trainer, Aidan O’Brien, whose stayer Johannes Vermeer ran a place in both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups last year, has four horses nominated for the Caulfield Cup and 12 for the Melbourne Cup as he chases a maiden victory in both.
Group 1 winner Lancaster Bomber, who is nominated for the Melbourne Cup only, is the highest weighted of his entries with 57.5kg, while stablemates Cliffs of Moher (56.5kg) and Idaho (56kg) are also among the topweights in both Cups.
Outside Humidor, the only Australasian-trained entrant allocated more than 55.5kg is Chris Waller’s versatile five-year-old Comin’ Through, who recently added the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) to his win in this year’s Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m). He has 56.5kg in both races.
Other notable weight allocations include:
- Kings Will Dream, the firm favourite for the Caulfield Cup and a guaranteed starter courtesy of his Mornington Cup (2400m) win earlier this year, has been asked to carry 53kg in his bid to secure a first win in the world’s richest 2400m turf handicap for Weir;
- High-class Japanese stayer Chestnut Coat, who is nominated for both cups, and Godolphin’s 2017 Cox Plate placegetter Folkswood, whose sole target is the Caulfield Cup, have both been allocated 55.5kg;
- British raider Muntahaa, an emphatic winner of the Ebor Handicap at York for his renowned trainer John Gosden, has been assigned 55.5kg for the Melbourne Cup – half a kilo more than the Hughie Morrison-trained Marmelo (55kg), who finished sixth in last year’s Caulfield Cup and ninth in the Melbourne Cup, having started favourite;
- David Payne’s Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) winner Ace High, is the highest-weighted four-year-old on 55kg, ahead of the Waller-trained D’Argento and Mick Price’s Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) winner Grunt, whom are both on 54kg;
- Waller’s Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) winner Unforgotten, a breathtaking winner of the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) this month, is the highest weighted four-year-old mare in both cups with 52.5kg, while her Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) winning stablemate Youngstar has 51.5kg;
- This year’s crop of northern hemisphere three-year-olds, aiming to emulate the achievements of Rekindling who carried 51.5kg to victory in last year’s Melbourne Cup, are particularly strong, with Melbourne Cup entry Kew Gardens – another O’Brien runner – highest in the weights on 53kg;
- O’Brien’s son Joseph, who last year became the youngest trainer to win the Melbourne Cup in history, is aiming to go back-to-back with Irish Derby (2400m) winner Latrobe, who will be asked to carry 52kg in his bid to deliver a record seventh success for Hall of Fame owner Lloyd Williams;
- The man who steered Rekindling to Melbourne Cup glory, Corey Brown, has this year chosen to partner another international, the Ian Williams-trained English entry Magic Circle, who has been assigned 56kg; and
- James Cummings’ highly-touted French import Avilius, who features prominently in Caulfield Cup betting for Godolphin, has been allotted 53kg in both cups.
Carpenter revealed that, with Rekindling not defending his crown and two notable stayers remaining in Europe, the allocated weights had to be adjusted accordingly.
“With the high-class European pair Stradivarius and Vazirabad opting against travelling to Australia and no previous Melbourne Cup winners amongst the entries, all horses nominated for the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup have been asked to carry more weight than they otherwise would have done,” Carpenter explained.
“With the conditions stating that each race has a minimum topweight of 58kg at the release of the handicaps, it is three-time Group 1 winner and Cox Plate runner-up Humidor that has been allotted the topweight in both races.
“Despite the absence of what I would call a natural topweight in both races, there is tremendous depth and quality among the entries and I suspect that the challenge to gain a start in both cups will be the toughest in recent years.
“With incredibly talented horses like Best Solution and Torcedor coming from Europe, the return of Japanese contenders led by Chestnut Coat, proven Australasian Group 1 performers like Humidor and an outstanding crop of four-year-olds, we will crown a worthy champion in the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
“At this point, it looks as though we can expect a record number of international runners across the Spring Racing Carnival, so locally-trained horses could face a tough task in ensuring the cups remain here in Australia. That said, with horses like Kings Will Dream, Unforgotten and Ace High prominent in the early betting markets, I’m sure the overseas raiders won’t have it all their own way.”
Carpenter further added that, under the conditions of both cups, weights will not be raised should Humidor not take his place in the field. The only way in which a horse will carry more weight than that allocated today is if it is penalised for a feature win between now and final acceptances.
The only original topweight to win the Caulfield Cup was Dunaden, who carried 58kg to victory in 2012, while the last original topweight to win the Melbourne Cup was Comic Court, in 1950. Since then, 23 have competed in the race and none have managed to run a place.
Over the past four decades, 35 horses have carried 58kg or more in the Melbourne Cup, with only Makybe Diva winning when carrying 58kg in 2005.
First acceptances for the Caulfield Cup close at 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 25 September, while the deadline for the Melbourne Cup first acceptances is 12 noon (AET) on Tuesday, 9 October.
Click here to view the 2018 Lexus Melbourne Cup weights
Click here to view the 2018 Stella Artois Caulfield Cup weights