There is a window for thoroughbreds that want to run in the 2017 Melbourne Cup, two windows, more accurately, as winners of the Lexus Stakes and the Bendigo Cup can get it.
The prospects, however, are gloomy beyond that point, as not since Phar Lap has it been conceivable for a horse to carry high expectations following so hard on a run less than a week ahead of the Cup. The only horses we could find to win the Lexus Stakes and the Melbourne Cup in the same year was Brew in 2000 and Shocking in 2009, going back no further than the early 90s.
The Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500 m) at Flemington on November 4 offers hopes to some that cannot get in any other way. There are nine contenders, those being in order, Harlem, Aloft, Foundry, Vengeur Masque, Pentathlon, Cismontane and Kellstorm.
What purpose would be served by running 2500 m, and then going 3200 m on two day’s rest? Bragging rights only, it would seem.
Twelve international horses are still in quarantine at Werribee. If by some chance all 12 were to make the Melbourne Cup field, it would be a new record, beating the 11 internationals that ran in 2011 and 2015.
Eleven of those 12 internationals are already ranked within the top 24, so if they all run, it will tie the old records.
The number 22 ranked horse, Qewy, of Ireland and the Godolphin stable, is running the Group 3 Bendigo Cup (2400 m), but Chris Connett of Godolphin has indicated that Qewy will not contest the Melbourne Cup unless he not only wins the Bendigo Cup, but also wins in dominant fashion. Should he do so, he will at least have five days to recuperate before the Melbourne Cup.
Qewy is the $2.35 favourite for the Bendigo Cup, according to Ladbrokes, but he is giving at least three kilos to most of the field.
Oceanographer won the Lexus Stakes in 2016, jumping with a starting price of $2.70, but he could do no better than 12th in last year’s Melbourne Cup, which is not all that bad considering the work he had to do in order to beat Tom Melbourne by less than half a length.