Aidan O'Brien's Kew Gardens top weight for Melbourne Cup
Aidan O'Brien's top stayer Kew Gardens, last year's English St Leger winner, has been assigned top-weight of 58kg for the €5million Lexus Melbourne Cup after the weights were released this morning in Australia.
Racing Victoria's (RV) Executive General Manager Greg Carpenter unveiled the weights for 'the race that stops a nation' and believes that O'Brien's four-year-old is a "worthy top-weight" should he tackle the 159th Melbourne Cup on Tuesday November 5 at Flemington.
"Kew Gardens was the world's joint highest-rated stayer alongside Stradivarius last year, he was a dominant winner of the 2018 St Leger at Doncaster and so is a worthy top-weight among the 152 entries for this year's Melbourne Cup," Carpenter said.
Last year's winner Cross Counter will carry 57.5kg this year as Charlie Appleby's charge bids to become the first horse since the mighty Makybe Diva in 2005 to retain the crown.
"Cross Counter will carry 6.5kg more than when he won the Melbourne Cup but given the nature of his victory last year and the natural progression in the weight-for-age benchmark from a three-year-old to a four-year-old, I felt it was an appropriate penalty to impose," said Carpenter.
"Inevitably the internationals will again pose a formidable challenge to the locally-trained stayers, with the first three home in the 2018 Melbourne Cup all set to return to Melbourne this year," he added.
The 2018 Melbourne Cup second Marmelo (Hughie Morrison) and third Prince Of Arran (Charlie Fellowes) both have the same weight as they carried 12 months previously, with 56kg and 53kg respectively.
Lonsdale Cup third Il Paradiso carries 52.5kg for O'Brien while the the Joseph O'Brien-trained trio of Master of Reality (55.5kg), last year's Irish Derby winner Latrobe (55kg) and the recently-acquired Twilight Payment (55kg) are all towards the top end of the weights.
Ebor Handicap winner Mustajeer – now trained by Kris Lees having won the lucrative York handicap for Ger Lyons – has 55kg while there is also plenty of Irish interest in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate, which will be run at Moonee Valley on Saturday October 26.
Aidan O'Brien, the 2014 Cox Plate-winning trainer, has retained seven horses including Epsom Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck and dual Group 1 winner Circus Maximus while his son Joseph has accepted with four horses for Australia's Hall of Fame owner, Lloyd Williams - Buckhurst, Latrobe, Master of Reality and Twilight Payment.
Other notable Irish weights for the Melbourne Cup:
Hunting Horn (Aidan O'Brien) 55kg, Downdraft (Joseph O'Brien) 53.5kg, Magic Wand (Aidan O'Brien) 53.5kg, Stivers (Dermot Weld) 51.5kg, True Self (Willie Mullins) 51.5kg.