MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Connections of Japanese stayer Admire Rakti have confirmed the seven-year-old stallion will run in the A$6.2 million (3.37 million pounds) Melbourne Cup despite being penalised an extra half-kilogramme for winning the leadup Caulfield Cup on Sunday.
Owner Riichi Kondo told Fairfax Media after the win at Caulfield that he would consider pulling the Tomoyuki Umeda-trained Admire Rakti from the gruelling 3,200 metre handicap if the horse were penalised.
But organisers said they had received confirmation that Admire Rakti would start the Australian showpiece at Flemington Racecourse on Nov. 4 after handicapper Greg Carpenter raised the stayer’s weight from 58 to 58.5 kg earlier on Monday.
“Representatives of owner Richii Kondo, who is in transit back to Japan, have advised Racing Victoria late this afternoon that the horse will remain in Australia to contest the A$6.2 million Melbourne Cup,” organisers said in a statement.
Caulfield Cup winners are traditionally given a weight penalty for the Melbourne Cup and the last to escape one for “the race that stops a nation” was the 1980 entrant Ming Dynasty.
“While the Caulfield Cup was not run in fast time, Admire Rakti was enormously impressive making a long sustained run down the middle of the track and he was strong through the line at the end of 2400m suggesting that 3200m at Flemington would be to his liking,” Racing Victoria handicapper Carpenter said after the penalty was announced.
The last Melbourne Cup winner to carry more than 58kg was Think Big in 1975.
Since Think Big, 33 horses have been entered in the Melbourne Cup with 58kg or more but Makybe Diva (58kg, 2005) is the only one to have won it.
Admire Rakti was rated a 7-2 favourite by major bookmakers on Monday ahead of German stayer Protectionist and locally trained mare Lucia Valentina.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury/Amlan Chakraborty