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Strong foreign contingent in Melbourne Cup


Jockeys Zac Purton and Joao Moreira may not only fight out this season's Hong Kong jockeys premiership but also the A$6 million G1 Melbourne Cup, to be run some 7400 kilomteres away, at Flemington on Tuesday.

Purton, of course, rides the favourite Admire Rakti who aims to become the 12th horse to complete the G1 Caulfield and Melbourne Cups double in the same year while Moreira rides the last-minute inclusion Signoff who is currently the third favourite after winning the G3 Lexus Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.

They are among six visiting jockeys who will compete - being joined by Gerald Mosse, Ryan Moore, William Buick and Andrea Atzeni - in the iconic race which also features no fewer than 11 overseas trained runners.

The Darren Weir trained Signoff drops to 112lb in the Cup after winning the Group 3 Lexus at 2500 metres with 125lb. Moreira is expected to be given permission to ride the horse at 114lb.

“It is a pleasure to be riding another winner on a horse who know gives me a chance in the Melbourne Cup.  I was searching for a ride and now he is the one,” Moreira said after last Saturday's success. “I was always confident that he was going to get there, he was travelling so sweet, he did it so easy and now we look forward to Tuesday.”

The Andrews Wohler trained Protectionist is fourth pick in the betting market and the shortest priced of the European contenders after a sound lead-up performance in Australia when fourth, a half length behind Signoff (second), in the G2 Herbert Power Stakes on 11 October.

The powerful Godolphin stable returns for another crack at the race, with Cavalryman and Willing Foe, which has eluded them but trainer Saeed bin Suroor is hopeful this may be their year.

“It's a great race, we've tried (to win it) for years and we've been second three times, this year we hope to get the result,” bin Suroor said.

Cavalryman finished 12th in the 2012 Melbourne Cup but the trainer says he's better prepared this year. “He's different this year,” bin Suroor said, “he's better when he's fresh and this year he's been in really good form.”

This year's other visiting runners are Red Cadeuax, runner-up in 2011 and 2013; Seismos, who failed in the Caulfield Cup on his Australian debut; the Johnny Murtagh trained duo Royal Diamond and Mutual Regard who've thrived at the Werribee quarantine centre but haven't had a local lead-up run; John Gosden's Gatewood; Roger Varian's My Ambivalent and Andre Fabre's Au Revoir who ran third in the G2 Moonee Valley Cup on 25 October.

The best of the locals aside from Signoff, according to betting order, are Lucia Valentina, who was third to Admire Rakti in the Caulfield Cup and Fawkner who enters the race via its second place in the G1 Cox Plate.


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