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No Aidan O'Brien runners for the Melbourne Cup as international entries halve

Last year's winner Twilight Payment leads 15 international entries for the Melbourne Cup
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International nominations for the Melbourne Cup have been cut in half this year with only 15 overseas runners entered amid the introduction of stricter veterinary checks and ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

Last year's winner Twilight Payment is one of four nominations for Joseph O'Brien and leads the international hopefuls for the Group 1 contest, with just 16 internationally-trained runners entered across the three major races of the Spring Carnival – the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate. 

In a significant omission, there are no runners nominated by Aidan O'Brien. The absence of Ballydoyle horses marks a major departure from Spring Carnival normality, with O'Brien entering 20 horses in the last two runnings of the $8 million Melbourne Cup. 

He is not the only high-profile European trainer not represented after it was announced on Monday that 2018 Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Charlie Appleby would not have any runners in the famous race following the decision by Godolphin not to send any international contenders.

Prince Of Arran, third in last year's race, is entered for Charlie Fellowes.

More expansive vet checks for overseas raiders were announced in April after a review into international participation in the Melbourne Cup. The review followed the high-profile death of 2019 Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck's in last year's Melbourne Cup. 

In addition to the stringent pre- and post-travel checks, a cap on numbers at the Werribee quarantine facility has been introduced, while international horses are not permitted more than one run in Australia prior to competing in the Melbourne Cup.

Spanish Mission: Yorkshire Cup winner entered for trainer Andrew Balding

Other notable international nominations include Yorkshire Cup winner Spanish Mission, who was withdrawn from the Goodwood Cup due to overnight rain, and the Roger Varian-trained Save A Forest following her success in the Chalice Stakes. 

Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle is also entered for the yard of Martyn Meade alongside Goodwood Cup second Away He Goes for trainer Ismail Mohammed. 

Despite the lack of international representation, entries for the Melbourne Cup were bolstered by home runners with 174 nominations for the Group 1, matching last year's figure.

British and Irish entries in the Melbourne Cup

Away He Goes Ismail Mohammed
Baron Samedi Joseph O’Brien
Benaud Joseph O’Brien
Eagles By Day David O’Meara
Lone Eagle Martyn Meade
Makawee David O’Meara
Master Of Reality Joseph O’Brien
Mirann Johnny Murtagh
Prince Of Arran Charlie Fellowes
Rodrigo Diaz David Simcock
Save A Forest Roger Varian
Sonnyboyliston Johnny Murtagh
Spanish Mission Andrew Balding
Stratum Willie Mullins
Twilight Payment Joseph O’Brien

Read more international:

Can Mother Earth continue Aidan O'Brien's fine French form in the Rothschild?

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Change of plea hearing scheduled for trainer Jorge Navarro over racehorse doping

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The absence of Ballydoyle horses marks a major departure from Spring Carnival normality
E.W. Terms