The pressure for spots in the 24 horse field for this year's $6.2 million Melbourne Cup has intensified following reports the Lloyd Williams-owned Green Moon and the Gai Waterhouse trained Glencadam Gold will take their place in the race that stops a nation on Tuesday.
A total of 46 horses are still in contention for a start in Australia's greatest race with a host of quality international and Australian gallopers currently outside the top 24 in order of entry ahead of Saturday's Derby Day meeting.
Green Moon, the beaten Cox Plate favourite, and Glencadam Gold - the beaten Caulfield Cup favourite - were the two horses currently inside the top 24 considered most likely to drop out of the field due to injury concerns.
And that would have helped the likes of the Godolphin-trained Lost In The Moment (No.26 in order of entry), highly rated French horse and Geelong Cup placegetter Brigantin (No.27) and fellow French horse and impressive Herbert Power Handicap winner Shahwardi (No.29) to squeeze into the Cup field.
However with none of that trio entered for either the Group One MacKinnon Stakes over 2000m at weight for age or the Group Two Lexus Stakes (2500m) on Derby Day - two races that ensure the winner a start in the Melbourne Cup - that trio will now have to rely on other horses dropping out of contention in order to gain a start in the Cup.
There was speculation that Green Moon would miss the Melbourne Cup following his disappointing unplaced run in the Cox Plate but Williams has now booked former top Victorian jockey and now Hong Kong-based Brett Prebble for the ride.
That will give Williams - aiming for a fourth Melbourne Cup - a guaranteed two starters in the race along with Mourayan while either Tanby (No.31 in order of entry) or Excluded (No.43) could join them by winning the Lexus.
Meanwhile Metropolitan winner Glencadam Gold is over the hoof problem that saw Waterhouse unable to enter the horse for Saturday's Lexus Stakes following his disappointing 15th when favourite in the Caulfield Cup.
"He had a trot and canter around here (Flemington) this morning and he's as bright as a button, Waterhouse told ''TVN''.
"I don't know whether he had a bruised back hoof after Caulfield, but whatever it was it's gone now and he's in super shape."
Glencadam Gold will be ridden in the Cup by Waterhouse's young No.2 stable jockey Tommy Berry, who was controversially replaced by veteran Jimmy Cassidy in the Caulfield Cup after winning the Metropolitan on the former English galloper.
With few if any of the top 24 ranked horses at present now expected to drop out of the Melbourne Cup, the pressure is on to win Saturday's Lexus with the winner guaranteed a start in the Cup.
All 13 runners in the Lexus remain in the Cup field with Tanby highest in order of entry at No.31 but it is Geelong Cup winner Gatewood (No.33 in order of entry) that is the clear favourite.
Gatewood needs to win to give in-form big race jockey Glen Boss a mount in this year's race with last week's Cox Plate winning jockey likely to be left without a ride in the race he won a record three years in a row on Makybe Diva if Gatewood doesn't make the field.
However Boss is unlikely to do the Melbourne Cup contenders any favours in Saturday's other ballot free race - the MacKinnon Stakes - when he again partners brilliant Cox Plate winner Ocean Park.
Ocean Park, which is not entered for the Melbourne Cup, has won all four starts at Group One level this preparation - including Australia's weight-for-age championship last week.And while many Cox Plate winners often struggle if asked to back up for another run - only So You Think in 2010 has done the Cox Plate-MacKinnon Stakes double since Better Loosen Up in 1990 - trainer Gary Hennessey said Ocean Park has come through his Cox Plate win in excellent shape.
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