Vauban is bidding to become the fifth Irish-trained winner of the Melbourne Cup
Vauban heads the contenders for the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday as Irish trainer Willie Mullins seeks his first win in Australia’s most famous race.
Mullins also saddles Absurde in the two-mile contest, while last year’s victor Gold Trip seeks another triumph.
A crowd of 100,000 is due at Flemington for “the race that stops a nation”.
Britain’s Ryan Moore, a winner in 2014 with Protectionist, rides Vauban after taking Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Turf in the United States with Auguste Rodin.
Mullins has won all the major jump racing prizes, including the Grand National and three Cheltenham Gold Cups, but this would be his biggest victory in Flat racing.
“Looking at the profile of our yard, I don’t think we’re going to win a Breeders’ Cup, the chance of winning an Arc is going to be tough, so to us, the type of horse we have, it would probably be the biggest race in the world we could win,” he said.
There have been four previous Irish-trained winners of the Melbourne Cup – Vintage Crop (1993), Media Puzzle (2002), Rekindling (2017) and Twilight Payment (2020).
The latter pair represented Joseph O’Brien, who runs Okita Soushi this time.
British rider Hollie Doyle will be the first female jockey from outside Australia or New Zealand to take part in the race as she partners Future History for trainers Ciaron Maher an David Eustace.
The pair, successful with Gold Trip last year, also saddle Right You Are, Ashrun and Interpretation.
Doyle will look to follow Michelle Payne, who became the only woman to triumph on Prince of Penzance in 2015.
“He [Future History] gets Hollie Doyle on board, probably one of the strongest riders in Europe, and I’m sure he’ll make his presence felt,” Maher said.
Caulfield Cup winner Without A Fight, Soulcombe – formerly trained in Britain by William Haggas – and Japanese contender Breakup are among other leading contenders.
Serpentine, a surprise winner of the Derby at Epsom in 2020 for Joseph’s father Aidan O’Brien, represents Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.
Organisers will hope all runners return safely, as in the last two runnings.
Stricter checks on overseas runners were introduced in 2021 after six equine fatalities in the previous eight years.