Sun 17 September 2023 | 9:12

Which Horses are Running in the Melbourne Cup 2023?

The world’s leading stayers will line up at Flemington Racecourse to contest the 163rd Melbourne Cup on 7 November.

A total of 132 horses have been nominated for the race that stops a nation, including 17 international contenders. That is a significant drop on the 186 horses that featured in the first nominations last year, but there are some exciting stayers in the mix.

The field will be whittled down to 24 runners on the day of the race, and these are some of the leading runners that are likely to compete:



Vauban is a highly-rated Irish stayer trained by Irish maestro Willie Mullins. He is primarily famous for his success within jumps racing, but he also dabbles in flat racing – often with great success. Over the years, his runners have finished second, third, fourth and sixth in the Cup. He could finally secure his first victory in the race that stops a nation through Vauban, a dual-purpose horse who won the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last year and then finished fourth in the Champion Hurdle in March this year.

Vauban won the Copper Course Handicap by seven-and-a-half lengths from fellow Cup contender Absurde at Royal Ascot in June, and he is in fine form on the flats right now, so he is currently the favourite in the Melbourne Cup futures. There are many elite runners on the

Melbourne Cup horses list

, but the bookies currently make Vauban the horse to beat.



Chris Waller, who saddled 2021 Melbourne Cup winner Verry Elleegant, has nominated 14 runners for this year’s race. Soulcombe is the pick of the bunch. He began his career in England, trained by William Haggas, and he won the Melrose Handicap at York last year. Soulcombe moved to Waller’s stable in November 2022, and he won the G3 Queen’s Cup at Flemington. He looked impressive when running second to Goldman in the Lexus Roy Higgins in the autumn, and he is currently the second favourite for the Melbourne Cup.


Francesco Guardi

Waller could have a strong hand in the race that stops a nation, as he has also nominated the highly-rated Francesco Guardi. The five-year-old gelding – who is named after a famous Venetian painter – caught the eye last year when he finished almost four lengths clear of Lunar Flare to land the G2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup. Former jockey

Shane Dye

famously claimed that Francesco Guardi would have won last year’s Melbourne Cup if he had started. Now he will get his chance.


Desert Hero

This three-year-old could become the first royal runner in the Melbourne Cup since Arabian Story secured a sixth-place finish in 1997. Desert Hero is owned by King Charles III and Queen Camilla of England and trained by Haggas, who previously saddled Soulcombe. He is high enough on the list of contenders to ensure a run in the Melbourne Cup after he won the King George V Stakes at Ascot in June, followed by the G3 Gordon Stakes at Goodwood in August. He is in fine form, and he could be one of the most dangerous international raiders in the field.



Goldman is one of nine Melbourne Cup nominees from Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott. The five-year-old gelding announced himself as one of Australia’s most exciting young stayers when he won the Listed Roy Higgins Stakes earlier this year. That victory earned him a ballot exemption into the Melbourne Cup, and he has been following a weight-for-age lead-up path to avoid any weight penalty as the big race approaches.



Breakup is expected to be the only Japanese raider at this year’s Melbourne Cup after connections decided against sending Silver Sonic to Flemington. He has been steadily improving over the past two years, and he showed his potential by landing the G2 Copa Republica Argentina over 2500m at Tokyo in November last year. He then transferred from trainer Yoichi Kuroiwa to Tatsuya Yoshioka. Breakup has been in solid form this year, and he is running at a similar level to Vauban, so it will be interesting to see if he gets any weight on Mullins’ raider when the handicapper makes the announcement.


Lunar Flare

Lunar Flare famously won the Moonee Valley Gold Cup in 2021. She finished second to Francesco Guardia when seeking to defend her crown last year, but she bounced back with

an epic win

in the Listed Lexus Andrew Ramsden (2800m) at Flemington in May. That earned her a place at the Melbourne Cup. Lunar Flare also beat Francesco Guardia by half a length to win the G3 Bart Cummings at Flemington last year. She is the daughter of Fiorente, who won the 2013 Melbourne Cup, so her pedigree is impeccable.



Absurde guaranteed himself a berth in the Melbourne Cup after

winning the Ebor Handicap

at York in August. He is also trained by Mullins, so the Closutton maestro is likely to be double-handed at the race that stops a nation. Absurde was second to Vauban at the Copper Horse Handicap in June, but he may be able to turn the tables on his stablemate over a longer distance in the Melbourne Cup.


Tower Of London

This three-year-old stayer could represent Aidan O’Brien’s best chance of claiming his first victory in the Melbourne Cup this year. The legendary Irish trainer had to settle for second place in 2017, when Rekindling – trained by his son Joseph – got the better of Johannes Vermeer in the final 100 metres. Incidentally, Mullins was third that year with Max Dynamite in an Irish one-two-three. Tower of London won the Ulster Derby in June and he was second in the G3 Bahrain Trophy Stakes over 2600m in July.

Gold Trip

Gold Trip will attempt to become just the sixth horse to win multiple Melbourne Cups. Trainers

Ciaron Maher and David Eustace are planning to run him in the Cox Plate before he steps up to take on his rivals in the Melbourne Cup. Gold Trip is winless in six appearances since that Melbourne Cup victory last year, and he is likely to carry a greater weight this time around, so he is an outsider in the futures odds, but you cannot write him off.

source: SportMob

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