The winners of Australia’s most famous race and the weight-for-age championship of Australasia headline the entries for this year’s Darley Australian Cup (2000m).
Both will be striving to do something not yet achieved if they make it to the starting stalls at Flemington on Saturday 8 March.
No male Melbourne Cup winner has won the Australian Cup in the same season since the Australian Cup was first run at weight-for-age in 1979.
Saintly won the Australian Cup as a three-year-old before winning the Melbourne Cup at four, while Hyperno and Shocking both snared the Australian Cup the season after their Melbourne Cup success.
Champion mares Let’s Elope (1991/92) and Makybe Diva (2004/05) are the only gallopers to complete the double.
Shamus Award will become the first three-year-old to win Victoria’s two biggest middle-distance weight-for-age events in the same season if he backs up his Cox Plate win in the Australian Cup.
The Danny O’Brien-trained colt, who hasn’t started since breaking his maiden status in the country’s premier weight-for-age contest, is one of 11 three-year-olds entered for the Australian Cup.
Victoria Derby winner Polanski and third placegetter Thunder Fantasy are among the other three-year-olds entered, with others including the latter’s Anthony Cummings-trained stablemates Drago and Surge Ahead, plus Hucklebuck and San Diego.
Last year’s Australian Cup was fought out by three-year-olds, with Super Cool defeating the Cummings-prepared Fiveandahalfstar, while Dulcify (1979) and Saintly (1996) are the only two other Australian Cup winners from that age group.
Green Moon, last year’s beaten favourite when fourth, is again entered, one of three nominations from Lloyd Williams’ Macedon Lodge. Tanby, last year’s third placegetter, and Mourayan are Williams’ other potential starters.
Chris Waller is the most heavily-represented trainer among the entries with six, headed by Group 1 winners Hawkspur and Foreteller. Imported gallopers Bayrir, He’s Your Man, Index Linked and Moriarty are Waller’s other entries.
David Hayes has five entries, including comeback gelding and former Victoria Derby placegetter Rawnaq, the same number as Anthony Cummings.
Cummings’ father Bart, a 13-time winner of the Australian Cup, and son James, who now train in partnership, are not represented among this year’s entries.
Other notable entries for this year’s Darley Australian Cup are former Irish mare Voleuse de Coeurs, who is now trained by Mike Moroney, Pat Carey-trained Group 1 winners Ethiopia and Gondokoro, last year’s Australian Guineas winner Ferlax and Kiwi Group 1 winners Silent Achiever and Survived.
Those that missed the nomination deadline have until Friday to pay a $1650 late entry fee, while first acceptances will be taken on Tuesday 18 February.
– Racing Victoria