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  • Provincial Racing NSW


THREE provincial stayers – all trained at Newcastle – remain in the $8.4m Melbourne Cup.

Trainers Kris Lees (Cleveland and Kalapour) and Mark Minervini (Raging Bull) have paid the $3000 second acceptance fees to keep their horses amongst the 51 which remain in the mix for the 163rd running at Flemington on November 7.

Cleveland is the currently the highest rated of the trio at 26th in the latest order of entry. Kalapour is 40th and Raging Bull is 42nd.

Twenty-four horses can run in the Cup, and there is no provision for emergencies.

Third acceptances (at a fee of $4000) are due at 12 noon on October 30, and final acceptances ($49,500) will be taken at 4.30pm on Saturday, November 4.

The final field will then be declared and the barrier draw conducted in public an hour later.

Cleveland and Kalapour ran second and third respectively to UK visitor Land Legend in the $500,000 ATC St Leger Stakes (2600m) at Royal Randwick yesterday week, and Raging Bull, after a distant seventh in that race, backed up there yesterday and showed an encouraging return to form with a close second to Stroke Of Luck in a Benchmark 88 Handicap (2000m).

Lees intends sending both Cleveland and Kalapour to Melbourne, and has named Friday night’s $750,000 Gold Cup (2500m) at The Valley as the former’s next assignment.

Cleveland has 55kg in the Group 2 event, run at set weights plus penalties.

“James McDonald rode Cleveland in the St Leger and will stay on him,” Lees said.

“I haven’t confirmed Kalapour’s next run yet.”

Minervini is looking at the $300,000 Group 3 Archer Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday week as Raging Bull’s Cup test.

Victory would automatically guarantee him a start in the big race.

“It was especially pleasing to see Raging Bull show some good form again yesterday,” Minervini said. “My unbiased view was that he was a bit unlucky not to have won.

“He was dropping back in class after contesting stakes races.

“He has pulled up well, and we’re still keen to get him to the Cup. With further attrition by the time third acceptances are taken next week, he will get closer in order of entry.

“Raging Bull’s previous trainer David Payne always believed in his capacity to run 3200m.

“If he doesn’t make the Cup field, there is still a Benchmark 96 Handicap (2800m) at Flemington on the same program.”

Expat South Aussie Minervini has never had a Melbourne Cup runner, and is also considering a Cup week start for stablemate Quick Tempo.

“We’ll know more after he trials on the Beaumont track on Tuesday,” he said. “He could go to Melbourne as a travelling companion for Raging Bull and run at Flemington during the carnival, or stay here for a Benchmark 100 Handicap (1100m) at Randwick on the same day as the Cup.”

*Story John Curtis, October 22, 2023 - Pics Bradley Photos*

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