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Key Melbourne Cup leadups this weekend in Europe

August 17, 2011

European racing this weekend sees a number of key lead up races to the Melbourne Cup.

All eyes will be on York’s famous Ebor Handicap (2800m), Europe’s most valuable flat handicap, to be run on Saturday.

The Ebor Handicap has become a more prominent leadup race in recent years, as European owners and trainers have changed their views on what horses are appropriate for the race.

Five Ebor winners since 1992 – Quick Ransom (1992), Give The Slip (2000), Hugs Dancer (2002), Purple Moon (2007), All The Good (2008) – have come to Melbourne at some stage after their victory.

Other horses to have come out to Melbourne after running in the Ebor include Warringah, Honolulu, Changingoftheguard, Yellowstone, Bauer, Glistening, Geordieland, Carte Diamond and Fantastic Love.

This year, it looks a crucial preparation race as those at the head of the betting have all been touted as potential Melbourne visitors – in fact, four of the top five in betting are Caulfield Cup entries.

The current favourite is Godolphin’s Lost In The Moment, who was unlucky not to win the Group 2 Goodwood Cup (3200m) last time out.

He is believed to be the most likely visitor for Godolphin this spring, although he is not among entries for the Caulfield Cup.

Also high up in markets is Saptapadi, with trainer Brian Meehan saying a victory or a very good run would see him come to Melbourne.

The Queen’s Tactician was mentioned in various media circles last week as a likely visitor, and he sits on the third line of betting with Ireland’s Mount Athos – another possible visitor.

Second favourite Modun, who has only had six starts, will also be considered for a trip by Sir Michael Stoute.

With Melbourne Cup entries closing later this year, it is hoped the winner of the Ebor will come to Melbourne.

Another race on York’s card on Saturday is seen as a Melbourne Cup lead up – the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup (3200m).

However, only one horse who has won the Lonsdale Cup has come to Melbourne in the same year – that was two time winner Persian Punch, who came to Melbourne in both 1998 and 2001 after winning the Lonsdale in both years.

The ill fated Septimus won the race in 2007, before infamously running in Melbourne the following year.

Entries for the Lonsdale Cup include Ascot Gold Cup winner Fame and Glory, Goodwood Cup winner Opinion Poll, Hardwicke and Glorious Stakes placegetter Harris Tweed and South Australian Derby winner Kidnapped.

Dandino, Sabotage, Fox Hunt and Duncan are other possible Melbourne Cup visitors.

Sunday night sees attention focused on Deauville in France, where the Group 2 Prix Kergolay (3000m) is a key leadup.

Despite victories to Melbourne contenders Arctic Owl (1998), Kayf Tara (1999) and Persian Punch (2000), the profile of the race increased markedly after the win of Americain last year.

Americain defeated fellow Melbourne visitor Manighar last year, before his victories in the Geelong Cup and Melbourne Cup.

He is set to defend his title as his final run in France before coming to Melbourne for the Cox Plate and another tilt at the race that stops the nation.

Once again, Manighar is a likely opponent, as are Caulfield Cup entries Allied Powers and Dunaden, Curragh Cup winner Red Cadeaux and Glorious Stakes placegetter Jukebox Jury.

Andrew Hawkins Racing will review each of the races from a Melbourne Cup point of view next Monday morning.

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