The Cups Countdown

OTI has nominated 11 horses for the Melbourne Cup and 12 for the Caulfield Cup.  The only horse not nominated for both Cups is Tom Melbourne.

In brief, the current status of each of our horses is as follows:


Azuro arrived in Melbourne mid-year and this talented gelding is progressing well with Darren Weir. A proven fast-finishing stayer, this gelding’s hope of making the Melbourne Cup hinges on a good result in the Bart Cummings or the Lexus Stakes at Flemington.


Casterton enters quarantine next week with the view of being in the first shipment to Werribee. Under his new trainer Chris Waller, the horse is likely to go the Geelong Cup on his way to the Melbourne Cup. Any give in the track will aid his chances.


After his great run at Royal Ascot, Chelkar swallowed a chunk of mud competing in his next race at Galway. He’ll race again in Ireland on the weekend of September 16 with a view of travelling with the second shipment bound for Werribee.

Gallic Chieftain:

After a most satisfying autumn campaign, Gallic Chieftain is set to commence at Moonee Valley this weekend.  He will head to The Metropolitan or The Bart Cummings with a view of improving his rating to get into the cups contention.

High Bridge:

High Bridge announced his arrival on the Australian racing scene with an emphatic win over 1900m at Canterbury last week. He will start in a restricted race mid-month in Sydney before stepping up in grade. Given his low rating, his access to the Melbourne Cup field will be via the Lexus Stakes.


A full brother to Order of St George, Kellstorm has been disappointing this preparation having promised so much last campaign. Darren Weir believes he’ll be ready for The Bart Cummings, a race he finished 3rd in last year.  This will be his only access to the Melbourne Cup.

Lord Fandango:

Archie Alexander is delighted with Lord Fandango’s progress and is looking forward to his return. He is working extremely well at Ballarat so hopefully, Archie’s strangles issue is quickly resolved and this horse will be at the track within a week.

Master Zephyr:

This honest gelding is returning from injury and gradually working his way into form. With luck, he would have finished much closer at Caulfield on Saturday. We now look forward to him going onto either The Bart Cummings or The Metropolitan before tackling the Cups.

Night’s Watch:

This most progressive galloper has been nominated for both cups based purely on the potential he is showing. His breeding indicates that he’ll be more effective at 2000m and possibly 2400m, but this remains to be seen. His next couple of runs will dictate his spring direction.


This son of Montjeu has been brought along beautifully by Jarrod McLean. The horse is most progressive and he will work his way up in distance towards The Bart Cummings. He is a horse that could back up in the Lexus Stakes before hitting the Melbourne Cup. On breeding, he will have no trouble running out the 3200m at Flemington.

Tall Ship:

After a layoff with a tendon strain, this horse is gradually working his way back into form. His 3rd last weekend was positive and he will now head to Flemington on September 15.  Given his rating, he needs to win either the Metropolitan or The Bart Cummings to find his way into the Cup. There is also an option to run him in the Geelong Cup.

Vin de Dance:

This four-year-old is the only horse currently guaranteed a start in the Cups. Although he suffered a slight setback early in his preparation he seems to be back on track. He will arrive in Australia in the next two weeks. The Baker/Forsman stable is delighted with how he is progressing and believe he has the attributes to be a Cups contender.

Tom Melbourne

Tom Melbourne has only been nominated for the Caulfield Cup at this stage. It’s an outside chance that he would be there, however, we know that wherever we start him he will run an honest race and likely finish 2nd.

We will continue to update the progress of these horses every two weeks during the lead-up to the spring features.