Melbourne Cup: Australia set for European invasion

By Cornelius LysaghtBBC horse racing correspondent
Americain being ridden to victory by Gerald Mosse at the 2010 Melbourne Cup
The French-trained Americain won the 150th running of the Melbourne Cup

A record 11 runners in the 24-horse line-up for Australia's Melbourne Cup will be trying to bring the southern hemisphere's top prize to Europe.

Once the preserve of the locals, Ireland's Vintage Crop became the first international winner in 1993 of 'the race that stops a nation'.

His trainer Dermot Weld won the two-mile race at Flemington on a second occasion, with Media Puzzle in 2002.

France took it last year with Americain who is again in the field on Tuesday.

For Tuesday's $6m (£4m) race, three of the top four in the betting are international challengers: the returning Americain, fellow French contender Dunaden and Jukebox Jury from Britain.

Jukebox Jury's trainer Mark Johnston also saddles Fox Hunt, the mount of Brazilian-born Silvestre de Sousa, who has had to put his struggle with Paul Hanagan for the British jockeys' championship on hold.

Johnston said: "He's challenging for the title and didn't really want to come and ride the horse, but I pointed out to him that all his winners in Europe would not even add up to the value of this one race.

"I wanted him to ride the horse, as he's perfect for him. He can do light weights, but is as strong as an ox."

De Sousa, who trails Hanagan by only a handful of winners, is due to return for racing at Nottingham and Kempton on Wednesday, three days before the season ends.

While Johnston, Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin stable (Modun and Lost In The Moment) and Luca Cumani (Manighar and Drunken Sailor) travel as some of the biggest operations in Britain, trainer Brian Ellison is altogether different.

The former journeyman jump jockey saddles Moyenne Corniche, winner of the prestigious Ebor Handicap at York, and Saptapadi (fifth at York) from his 60-horse string, based in Yorkshire.

"This means a great deal," said Ellison. "I'm not big and I don't train for any Arabs, but here I am with two runners that have got into the Melbourne Cup. It's absolutely great.

"They are both in good form and now we're hoping for the best, though just being here with a chance is quite something."

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