No international horse has won the Melbourne Cup twice, and Frankie Dettori has not won the race at all.
But both Cross Counter, to be ridden by William Buick, and the flamboyant Dettori aboard Master Of Reality, will bid to rewrite the record books at Flemington on Tuesday.
And they won’t be alone.
Vow And Declare, Surprise Baby and Youngstar are the patriotic favourites as the only horses with a local trainer, a local jockey and solely local form.
Along with another nine Australian-trained runners, the trio has the task to stop the flow of Melbourne Cup trophies overseas with five of the past nine winners, and the past two in succession, trained internationally.
As the defending titleholder, Cross Counter has to overcome a 6.5kg weight rise to become the first dual Cup winner from the northern hemisphere while Dettori must beat a Melbourne Cup hoodoo that spans more than 25 years.
Having ridden in Australia’s most famous race 16 times, with his best results seconds aboard Central Park (1999) and Max Dynamite (2015), one of the world’s most celebrated jockeys is desperate to add the Melbourne Cup to his resume.
“I know him well and I can tell you this race at this point of his career means more to him than any race in the world right now because it’s probably one of the few things he hasn’t been able to win,” Nick Williams, part owner of Master Of Reality said.
Dettori sent Williams a text message begging to ride Master Of Reality in the Cup shortly after claiming a seventh win in the prestigious Ascot Gold Cup on Stradivarius in June.
Master Of Reality finished third in the race, just over a length from the winner.
“He said there’s only one trophy I need now,” Williams said.
“He’s of the firm view that the form Master Of Reality showed that day, and obviously his lead-ups to Ascot, he said that’s the best staying form in the world.”
Dettori has at times been lambasted for his Melbourne Cup rides.
In England, jockeys comfortably sit wide in the run and win but the tighter racing and big fields in Australia’s major handicap races make finding cover almost crucial.
He flies into Melbourne on Cup eve in some of the greatest form of his career, last month notching his 250th Group One win.
Also trying to snare the Cup for the first time is Craig Williams on Vow And Declare after missing the winning ride on Dunaden in 2011 through suspension.
Vow And Declare’s trainer Danny O’Brien says his charge is the quintessential Melbourne Cup horse and can keep the trophy in Australia.
“He is owned by an Australian, trained by an Australian and ridden by an Australian,” O’Brien said.
“Every part of him is Australian.
“It would be nice to turn the tide back a little bit on what’s been going on for the last decade and show we’ve still the ability to have a Melbourne Cup horse born, bred and trained in Australia.”
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au