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O'Brien, O'Brien and Mullins line up massive Irish challenge for the Melbourne Cup

Can one of the trio follow in Dermot Weld’s footsteps?

Johannes Vermeer: best of the six Irish-trained chances?
Johannes Vermeer: best of the six Irish-trained chances?
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

SIX IRISH-TRAINED hopefuls are among a record-equalling 11 European horses in the field for the Melbourne Cup at Flemington in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Three runners from Britain, and one each from France and Germany, join the Irish contingent seeking to become the sixth international winner of the iconic two-mile handicap race.

Much has changed in “the race that stops a nation” since Dermot Weld’s Vintage Crop charged down the long home straight to become the first overseas winner in 1993.

The 157th running of the race reflects that with almost half the 23-strong field coming from overseas, chasing the Aus$6 million (€3.95m) prize money on offer.

Since Vintage Crop, foreign raiders Media Puzzle (2002) – also trained by Weld – Delta Blues (2006), Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011) have won the race.

Ireland’s champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins, who first tried to win in 2003, has three runners in Thomas Hobson, Wicklow Brave and Max Dynamite, who finished second in 2015.

Aidan O’Brien, who set a world record this year with 27 Group 1 wins, saddles Johannes Vermeer as he chases his first Melbourne Cup after coming closest with Mahler who ran third in 2007.

And O’Brien’s son Joseph has two chances of trumping his father with US Army Ranger and Rekindling.

Johannes Vermeer is one of six horses to carry the colours of five-time Cup winning Australian owner Lloyd Williams, who had last year’s winner Almandin.

A favourite again this year, Almandin will be ridden by Italian veteran Frankie Dettori, who gets another chance to end his Melbourne Cup disappointment.

Dettori, 47 next month, has won the Arc, 17 English classics and a Champion Stakes among other significant races, but in 15 Cup rides over almost 25 years the closest he has come is second with Central Park in 1999 and Max Dynamite in 2015.

“I’m running out of years. I’ve got to make every chance count,” Dettori said.

– © AFP 2017. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Media Puzzle won the Melbourne Cup in 2003; it was 2002.

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