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The Royal Ascot carnival may be over for another year, but the form lines will be analysed in the lead up to the Spring Racing Carnival with a number of runners a chance of coming to Melbourne.

As reported last week, the Ascot Gold Cup trifecta – Rite of Passage, Age of Aquarius and Purple Moon – are all possible Melbourne Cup horses.

The Hardwicke Stakes, run over one mile and four furlongs (2414m) at set weights and penalties, is typically a high class race. In 1993, it was won by the next year’s Melbourne Cup winner in Jeune.

This year’s winner was Harbinger, a lightly raced Dansili stallion who won in extremely impressive fashion.

Third in the race was Barshiba, a six year old Irish mare. She is trained by David Elsworth, renowned for his missions to Australia with grand stayer Persian Punch.

Immediately after the race, Elsworth said the Melbourne Cup could be an option.

“I said to the owner we should think about Melbourne, he said ‘talk to the hand, the face ain’t looking’.”

However, the race was all about Harbinger.

His owners, Highclere Syndication’s, have stated that the Melbourne Cup is not on the agenda, instead nominating the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe at Longchamp as his main target.

“I think that’s what [our trainer] Sir Michael [Stoute] will want to do,” Harry Herbert, head of Highclere Syndication’s, declared.

“I think our Melbourne Cup horse will be Theology.”

Theology ran a very unlucky second in the Queen’s Vase on Friday.

The Queen’s Vase, run over two miles for three year olds, has  been won in the past by former contenders Maridpour and Mamool. In 2007, Mahler won the race two starts before he ran 3rd in that year’s Melbourne Cup, won by Efficient.

European three year olds have become increasingly popular types for the Melbourne Cup, as they receive the featherweight of 50.5kg yet are highly ranked in the ballot order. In addition to Mahler, Alessandro Volta ran as a European three year old in 2008, while the ill-fated Changingoftheguard was scratched on race morning last year.

This year’s Vase has produced two possible contenders, in Theology and the Aidan O’Brien-trained winner Mikhail Glinka. Both are sons of English Derby winner Galileo.

Another match up awaits both Theology and Mikhail Glinka in the English St Leger, with a good performance likely to ensure a ticket to Melbourne.

Written by Andrew Hawkins

Melbourne Cup 2010

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