Zacada, Nakeeta sneak into Melbourne Cup field

4 min read

New Zealand mare Zacada (NZ) (Zabeel {NZ}) and 2017 Ebor winner Nakeeta (GB) (Sixties Icon {GB}) joined A Prince of Arran (Shirocco {Ger}) as last-minute additions to the G1 Lexus Melbourne Cup as the final field was confirmed on Saturday.

Zacada, the 2018 Sydney Cup runner-up and Nakeeta, who was fifth in last year's Melbourne Cup, needed attrition to get their place in the field but the last-minute decision to rule both Red Verdon (USA) (Lemon Drop Kid {USA}) and Tosen Basil (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) out, gave them their chance.

It means there will be four Australian-bred horses in the race, with Runaway (Manhattan Rain), Sir Charles Road (Myboycharlie {Ire}), Ace High (High Chaparral {Ire}) and Youngstar (High Chaparral {Ire}) flying the local flag, while Zacada and Who Shot Thebarman (NZ) (Yamanin Vital {NZ}) are the two New Zealand-bred horses in the race.

Eleven of the 24 runners are trained in Australia with two prepared by New Zealand-based trainers. Aidan O'Brien has three runners as does Chris Waller, while the Godolphin operation also has three runners, but prepared by three different trainers.

Knock for the favourite

Meanwhile, favourite Yucatan's (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) Melbourne Cup campaign hit its first hiccup when part-owner Nick Williams came up with barrier 23 at the barrier draw.

Williams said he wasn't too concerned with the second outside barrier and that the 5-year-old had improved from his impressive victory in the G3 Herbert Power S.

"You always like a middle type draw. It’s often what you hope you won't get and I think I'd rather have that than an inside barrier where they get cluttered up," he said.

"I think the barriers in this race are largely irrelevant myself. It’s a big long run in 1000m down the straight and they’ve got plenty of time to sort themselves out."

Yucatan eased slightly from $4.20 out to $4.50 after the draw.

Magic Circle (Ire) (Makfi {GB}) is second on the line of betting after coming up with barrier 17 while Cross Counter (Teofilo {Ire}) drew barrier 19 and leading locally-trained hope Avilius (GB) (Pivotal {GB}) barrier 11.

From Prince to King

Earlier, trainer Charlie Fellowes marked his biggest win of his career as A Prince of Arran secured his Melbourne Cup ticket with a win in the G3 Lexus S.

Fellowes, who spent 12 months in Australia at one stage working for Lee Freedman, was desperate to taste the thrill of having a Melbourne Cup runner and described the win as a highlight of his career.

"That's the biggest win of my career, it's the first Group win of my career and to win on a massive day like today is huge," he said.

"That's the biggest win of my career, it's the first Group win of my career and to win on a massive day like today is huge," - Charlie Fellowes

"Getting into the Cup is amazing and we'll hopefully enjoy the next couple of days and the build-up as much as we can."

Newmarket-based Fellowes felt that jockey Michael Walker had given the 6-year-old the perfect ride to ensure he got the win, but still had enough in the bank to back-up on Tuesday.

"I'm over the moon. He gave it a lovely ride and we got there a bit too soon as he doesn't do much in front but his jockey said he picked up again when the other one came to him and we were always holding on to the line," he added.

"Let's just hope he comes out of the race okay and we'll do whatever we can to freshen him up and run again Tuesday. I can't believe we're in the big one on Tuesday."

A Prince of Arran came up with barrier 20, with Zacada in barrier 24 and Nakeeta barrier 3.