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Two Japanese horses have been confirmed as Caulfield and Melbourne Cup entries as the countdown begins towards the spring carnival.

Racing Victoria said on Thursday, Chestnut Coat and Sole Impact have both been entered for the 2018 Caulfield Cup and the 2018 Melbourne Cup.

The TAB has Chestnut Coat, a winner of four of his 17 starts, as the early favourite in its Melbourne Cup pre-nominations market at $15 with Sole Impact at $41.

Chestnut Coat is at $26 for the Caulfield Cup with Sole Impact $34.

“Chestnut Coat and Sole Impact are both quality horses and we identified them as potential Cups horses some time ago, so it’s very pleasing that their connections have already announced that they will be sending them to Melbourne for the spring racing carnival,” RV general manager, international and racing operations, Paul Bloodworth said in a statement.

“With the likes of Magic Circle, Marmelo and Red Verdon also committed to travelling from the UK, and with record prize money on offer for the three major races, we’re set to celebrate 25 years of international competition in style.

“It’s an exciting time, and we’ll be announcing many more international runners over the coming weeks.”

Japanese apprentice Ryusei Sakai, who is currently based in South Australia with trainer Ryan Balfour, has been provisionally booked to ride Sole Impact in the Caulfield Cup.

“I was so excited and very surprised when I received the offer to ride Sole Impact in the Caulfield Cup, which will be my first start in a Group One race,” Sakai said.

“It will be a great experience for me to ride in such a time-honoured race, and I’m really grateful to all the connections for giving me this opportunity.”

Japanese-trained horses Delta Blues and Pop Rock ran the quinella in the 2006 Melbourne Cup while Admire Rakti is the only Japanese horse to have won the Caulfield Cup in 2014.

The prize money for this year’s Caulfield Cup and also the weight-for-age Cox Plate has risen by $2 million to $5 million.

The Melbourne Cup has increased by $1 million to $7.3 million.

Earlier this week Godolphin accepted the invitation for Group One Dubai Turf winner Benbatl to contest the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October.

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