Defending champion Protectionist and English star Snow Sky will need to break a 55-year hoodoo if they are to win this year’s $6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) following the release of weights today by Racing Victoria (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter.
Protectionist, who delivered Germany its first Melbourne Cup win last year before being transferred to Newcastle trainer Kris Lees, and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Snow Sky share topweight of 58kg for the 3 November feature at Flemington Racecourse.
Carpenter explained that an original topweight has not won the Melbourne Cup since the Jim Cummings-trained Comic Court raced to victory in 1950 when carrying 59.5kg.
“There have been 22 original topweights contest the Melbourne Cup since Comic Court’s win in 1950 and none have placed so Protectionist and Snow Sky would rightfully earn their place among the Cup’s true greats if they were to be successful,” Carpenter said.
“The handicap presents a challenge to both Protectionist and Snow Sky, however they have earned their position at the heads of the weights based on their performances over the past 12 months.
“Protectionist was a dominant winner of last year’s Melbourne Cup carrying 56.5kg and rises 1.5kg for this year’s renewal, while Snow Sky is the highest rated horse in the field having won the coveted Hardwicke Stakes (2400m) in emphatic fashion at this year’s Royal Ascot Carnival.”
Protectionist is striving to join Makybe Diva (2003, 04, 05), Think Big (1974, 75), Rain Lover (1968, 69), Peter Pan (1932, 34) and Archer (1861, 62) as the only multiple winners of the Melbourne Cup.
Carpenter explained that he had rated Aidan O’Brien’s breathtaking Irish St Leger (2800m) winner Order of St George the equal of Protectionist and Snow Sky when allotting the young star 54kg.
“Order of St George could not have been more impressive winning the Irish St Leger on Sunday by 11 lengths and the 54kg I have allotted him as a northern hemisphere three-year-old is the same as 58kg for an older horse with both being 1.5kg below the weight-for-age benchmark,” Carpenter said.
Order of St George is one of four entries for O’Brien who has had not a Cup runner since 2008. Bondi Beach and Fields of Athenry, who were first and third in Saturday’s English St Leger, have been weighted on 52.5kg and 51kg respectively, whilst Ascot Gold Cup runner-up Kingfisher has 53kg.
Japan’s current favourite Fame Game and a pair of 10-year-olds pursuing their fifth Cup start, Red Cadeaux and Precedence, were the other three to command interest with the release of the weights.
Fame Game, who is chasing Japan’s second Melbourne Cup win, has been allocated 57kg with Rain Lover (1969, 60.5kg), Think Big (1975, 58.5kg), Gold And Black (1977, 57kg) and Makybe Diva (2005, 58kg) the only winners to have carried 57kg or more in the past 50 years.
Three-time runner-up and crowd favourite Red Cadeaux has been allocated 55kg – thus meeting Protectionist 3.5kg better for his defeat in last year’s Cup; whilst the James Cummings-trained Precedence has dropped to 52kg having carried 54.5kg to a career-best sixth placing in 2014.
Precedence is one of 71 entries who are yet to pass the ballot and need to perform over the next seven weeks to secure a start. He will attempt to do so by winning the race named in honour of his former trainer, The Bart Cummings (2500m), at Flemington on Sunday, 4 October.
Other notable entries and their weights are;
• Criterion (57.5kg) – 2015 Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner who returns to Australia on 26 September after campaigning in Hong Kong and Europe;
• Our Ivanhowe (56kg) – Highly rated German import who spearheads multiple Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Lee Freedman’s return to the premier race;
• Big Orange (55.5kg) – A rising star of English racing with wins in this year’s Princess of Wales’s Stakes and Goodwood Cup;
• Hartnell (55.5kg) – The BMW winner who leads Godolphin’s pursuit of a maiden Melbourne Cup victory. Finished unplaced as favourite in the 2015 Sydney Cup when carrying 52kg;
• Hokko Brave (55.5kg) – Second of the Japanese entrants who has been a resident fixture in Japan’s premier staying races and will be ridden by local star Craig Williams;
• Max Dynamite (55kg) – Brilliant winner of the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup who, like 1993 Melbourne Cup winner Vintage Crop, arrives from Ireland with a mixture of flat and jumps racing form;
• Mongolian Khan (55kg) – Australian and New Zealand Derby winner who is the highest weighted southern hemisphere four-year-old in the race;
• Trip to Paris (55kg) – 2015 Ascot Gold Cup winner and stablemate of Red Cadeaux;
• Who Shot Thebarman (54.5kg) – Melbourne and Sydney Cup placegetter who drops 0.5kg on the weight he carried to third placing in the 2014 Melbourne Cup; and
• Grand Marshal (53.5kg) – An upset winner of the 2015 Sydney Cup carrying 52kg. Won the 2800m handicap at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day 2014.
The full list of weights for the 2015 Emirates Melbourne Cup are available here.