O'Brien and Mullins target Group 1 Caulfield pot in Melbourne
Preview: Australia, Saturday 5.50am BST (live on ATR)
Caulfield: Ladbrokes (Caulfield) Stakes (Group 1) 1m2f | turf | 3yo+
British and Irish-trained horses are out in force on Saturday as the spring action in Melbourne steps up a gear with the richly endowed Caulfield Guineas meeting bursting at the seams with major trials for the Melbourne and Caulfield and Cox Plate
Aidan O'Brien, Willie Mullins and Charlie Appleby are among the international trainers involved, with the Irish pair both represented in the A$1 million (£590,000) Caulfield Stakes, a Group 1 event in its own right and the leading trial for the Cox Plate, the continent's premier weight-for-age race, where the mighty Winx lies in wait on October 28 at Moonee Valley.
Mullins has booked big-race specialist Glen Boss, known as 'Group 1 Glen', to partner Rich and Susannah Ricci's Riven Light, who won a Listed race at Listowel last month to set up his trip to Australia, where the Cox Plate is the primary target.
On hand in Melbourne is Mullins' assistant David Casey, who said Riven Light had settled in well to his new surroundings in the Werribee quarantine centre.
"He’s well and very fit and hopefully he'll run well and do himself a bit of justice. He's a relaxed horse and takes it all in his stride."
Casey is hoping Winx's brilliant victory in last weekend's Turnbull Stakes may dissuade some from taking her on in the Cox Plate.
"You're hoping after last Saturday people won’t turn up and there will be some extra prize money" Casey said.
"We don’t expect to beat Winx but if he runs well enough on Saturday he might be able to go there and run a good race and get some nice prize-money."
Ballydoyle's Caulfield pair, Johannes Vermeer (Katelyn Mallyon) and The Taj Mahal (Damien Oliver), known as Taj Mahal in Ireland, will be running in the colours of five-time Melbourne Cup-winning owner Lloyd Williams.
They are set to go their different ways after their Aussie debut, with the Caulfield Cup the main option for Johannes Vermeer while his stable companion heads for the Cox Plate.
Another well-known horse will be making his Australian debut, though you may not recognise the name. Cox Plate contender Calderon (Tony McEvoy/Luke Currie) was formerly known as Steel Of Madrid, the name under which he won the Earl of Sefton Stakes for Richard Hannon in April. The name change came about because there is another Steel Of Madrid running in Melbourne.
For all the European interest, however, the Caulfield Stakes betting is dominated by the filly Bonneval (Baker & Forsman/Damian Lane) and Godolphin's Hartnell (James Cummings/Glyn Schofield), separated by a length last month in the Underwood Stakes in Sydney.
The four-year-old has won her last six races, among them three Group 1s including the Australian Oaks; her stablemate, the Australian Derby winner Jon Snow (Stephen Baster), adds further depth to a hot race.
Also on Saturday
Caulfield: Ladbrokes Herbert Power Stakes (Group 2) 1m4f | turf | 3yo+ (4.05am BST, live on ATR)
Charlie Appleby, enjoyed a lucrative time at last year's spring carnival winning five races, including the Geelong, Bendigo and Sandown Cups.
The Godolphin trainer kicks off his 2017 campaign with Melbourne Cup entry Kidmenever (Glyn Schofield), who finished second in a Sandown Listed race on his most recent outing. Stablemate Folkswood runs in the Cranbourne Cup on Sunday.
Wall Of Fire (Hugo Palmer/Mark Zahra), a Melbourne Cup 'buzz horse' in Australia, is set to shoulder top weight in this A$400,000 (£235,000) contest which offers a guaranteed place in the starting gate for the Caulfield Cup to the winner.
Lloyd Williams will be represented by three former European horses, all trained by Robert Hickmott, namely the former Ballydoyle pair Foundry (Michael Dee) and Aloft (Ben Melham) plus Gallante (Katelyn Mallyon), a Group 1 winner in his former life with Andre Fabre.
Caulfield: Toorak Hcap (Group 1) 1m | turf | 3yo+ (7.10am BST, live on ATR)
Citing illness, Michelle Payne has given up the ride on Jane Chapple-Hyam-trained Kaspersky, who will now be ridden by Black Caviar's jockey Luke Nolen. The former Andre Fabre-trained Mask Of Time (Hugo Palmer/Daniel Moor) is first reserve for the A$500,000 (£295,000) contest, in which the market is headed by the Chris Waller-trained pair Tom Melbourne (Glen Boss) and Egg Tart (Damien Oliver).
Caulfield: Weekend Hussler Stakes (Listed hcap) 7f | turf | 3yo+ (4.40am BST, live on ATR)
The Australian-owned Fastnet Tempest (William Haggas/Dean Yendall) provides British interest here. The Victoria Cup winner will be joined by Mask Of Time if the three-year-old misses the cut for the Toorak.Caulfield: Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas (Group 1) 1m | turf | 3yo (6.30am BST, live on ATR)
Catchy (Hayes team/Mark Zahra) bids to become the first filly for 41 years to beat the boys in the meeting's A$2m (£1.18m) highlight, where Royal Symphony (Tony McEvoy/Dwayne Dunn) is a leading fancy.
New Zealand Group 1 winner Summer Passage has been scratched after drawing the outside post in a 17-runner field.
Caulfield: Thousand Guineas (Group 1) 1m | turf | 3yo fillies (5.15am BST, live on ATR)
After an easy victory in the Group 1 Flight Stakes in Sydney a fortnight ago, Godolphin's Alizee (James Cummings/Glyn Schofield) is a dominant favourite.
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