All horses still in the Melbourne Cup mix have passed crucial fitness tests ahead of the declaration of the 24-horse field after a couple of injury scares.
Barring anything unforeseen, there is just one spot up for grabs with the winner of Saturday’s Lexus Stakes (2500m) guaranteed a Cup start if it is among the 35 remaining entrants.
International visitors, Godolphin’s Sky Hunter and the Roger Charlton-trained Quest For More, were examined on Friday, a day after both were reported to have hoof problems.
The two were inspected by Racing Victoria’s head of equine welfare and veterinary services Dr Brian Stewart as part of the checks on the top 35 horses in the ballot order for Tuesday’s Cup.
Five others yet to pass the first ballot clause are among the latest acceptances with four – Ruling Destiny, High Midnight, Zanteca and Elhaame in the Lexus.
Quest For More had a light canter on the Werribee track on Friday morning while Sky Hunter, along with stablemates Elhaame and Secret Number, did a slightly stronger piece of work.
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said Sky Hunter had cantered on Thursday and Friday and said he was sound, happy and healthy.
“A few days ago when the farrier changed his shoe he looked immediately sore”, bin Suroor said.
“But since we put the shoe back, then he looks sound.
“He’s back to normal.”
The Godolphin trainer said Elhaame deserved his chance to try to make the Cup field via the Lexus.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow for Elhaame to run well,” he said.
“It looks to me an open race but if he can settle handy or close I think this is the best way for him to run well.”
Elhaame is a $7 chance in the Lexus with the Gai Waterhouse-trained Excess Knowledge the $4.80 favourite.
Excess Knowledge was at No.30 on the ballot order.
Japanese horse Fame Game remains at a skinny $3.50 to win the Melbourne Cup ahead of Saturday’s barrier draw.
He finished an eye-catching sixth in the Caulfield Cup won by Mongolian Khan who was ruled out of the Melbourne Cup on Thursday with a bout of colic.