Charlie Appleby won the 2018 Cup with Cross Counter, while Saeed bin Suroor landed the 2019 Caulfield Cup with Best Solution, both in the Godolphin blue. But the duo thought the problems and difficulties of travelling horses to Australia was a bridge too far this year.
Irish giant Coolmore had other ideas and Aidan O’Brien sent a handful of horses to challenge for the big prizes as did his son Joseph. Both will be strongly represented in Tuesday’s Cup.
“At the start of the journey I thought the chances of having international competition this year was at best remote,” Carpenter said.
“We always knew the horses would be able to come, but the logistical challenges and the difficulties of travel were something we feared would make it difficult to get such a strong field.
“It’s very pleasing to see such a top class entry in such difficult times.”
Danny O’Brien said: “I can’t remember a deeper Cup, certainly one where you have got the English Derby winner, the Caulfield Cup winner and the Cox Plate winner all in together.”
A glance at the likely field confirms their opinion.
Top weight Anthony Van Dyck is one of the best-credentialled horses ever to have come to this country, having won the 2400-metre Epsom Derby.
He showed his wellbeing by running a gallant second under top weight in the Caulfield Cup to Chris Waller’s Verry Elleegant, a multiple group 1-winning mare that will also be in the field next Tuesday.
Rarely these days does the Cox Plate winner line up in the Melbourne Cup, but Sir Dragonet, successful on Saturday in the hands of Glen Boss, will look to land the classic double last achieved by Makybe Diva with Boss aboard in 2005.
O’Brien’s Russian Camelot, a dual group 1-winner and third in the Cox Plate, is set to renew a rivalry with Sir Dragonet and will be better suited to a longer trip than the 2000-metre Plate.
Tiger Moth, the current pre-post favourite, represents the Aidan O’Brien stable and comes with excellent credentials, having been a narrow runner-up in the Irish Derby this year and a good winner last time out.
In addition four of the first five home last year – Vow And Declare, Master Of Reality, Prince Of Arran and Surprise Baby – are all set to line up once more as well as some from the beaten brigade, such as Steel Prince and Twilight Payment, who are arguably in better form than they were 12 months ago.
Add to them the likes of last year’s VRC Oaks winner Miami Bound, who proved she was in fine fettle with a win in the Moonee Valley Cup at the weekend and the 2019 Victoria Derby winner Warning, who looks like he is crying out for more ground, and it is indeed a vintage crop.