Opportunities abound for Kiwi hopes in 2021 Melbourne Cup

28 October 2021

Crowds may be returning to Flemington Racecourse just in time for this year’s Melbourne Cup, but there are plenty of horses with Kiwi connections ready to spoil the party.

As Victoria emerges from tight Covid-19 restrictions, up to 10,000 people will be on course at Flemington for the meeting next Tuesday (2 November) that includes the historic A$8 million (NZ $8.4 million) Melbourne Cup to be run at 5pm NZ time. 

The field and barrier draw for Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup will be confirmed by about 9pm NZ time on Saturday, 30 October, with Final Field fixed odds markets available shortly after the confirmation of the final field.

Tote betting will be available from Sunday morning, 31 October, and customers are strongly encouraged to get their bets on early. Betting through the tab.co.nz website has been strong throughout the spring and is expected to continue through to Melbourne Cup Week. TAB retail outlets are closed in many parts of New Zealand due to heightened Alert Level restrictions, leading to increased activity on TAB's digital channels.

New Zealand horses, trainers, jockeys and breeders have a proud tradition in the Melbourne Cup, from Carbine in 1890 through to the New Zealand-bred Prince of Penzance in 2015, and the Kiwis will be looking to extend that in the 161st edition of the race that stops two nations.

Kiwis are represented this year by a number of runners, including the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained The Chosen One, who ran an outstanding 4th in last year’s Cup, and Auckland Cup winner Ocean Billy.

Ocean Billy has been trained by Bill Pomare, of Rotorua, up until six weeks ago, with Covid-19 travel restrictions meaning he has been transferred to Sydney trainer - and ex-pat Kiwi - Chris Waller, who also has star mare Verry Elleegant in his care.

Verry Elleegant, who was named Australian Horse of the year for 2020/21, has a remarkable back story. Her sire Zed has returned from stallion obscurity, having spent time serving mares on a high country station in the South Island before his progeny started making their mark on racetracks around Australasia.

A number of other likely starters are New Zealand-bred, including ATC Australian Derby winner Explosive Jack, VRC Derby winner Johnny Get Angry, Sydney Cup winner Miami Bound and last week’s Geelong Cup winner Tralee Rose.

Sydney-based Kiwi jockey James McDonald is seeking a new Melbourne Cup mount after his ride Away He Goes was ruled out on Wednesday with a tendon injury.

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