Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper Greg Carpenter has a tough challenge ahead as he starts his final batch of Melbourne Cup weight.
Carpenter will compile his 18th and final set of Melbourne Cup weights before taking up employment with the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
Carpenter said his first task would be to decide which of the 186 Melbourne Cup entrants would become the first heavy hitter for the $8m event.
“The first thing I have to do when I start looking at weights is to find a maximum weight,” Carpenter said.
“There probably isn’t what you would call a natural top weight among the starters.”
The handicapper said the number of overseas entries surprised him.
However, Carpenter noted that the 2022 international contingent was strong with the return of stable starters Aidan O’Brien and Saeed bin Suroor adding to the quality.
Carpenter and his team have until September 6 to line up Melbourne Cup hopefuls in handicap order.
“I’m really quite surprised by the volume of international horses this year,” Carpenter said.
“There are still international races before the weights come out like the Irish St Leger and the Doncaster Cup.
“We will be looking forward to working with these over the next five weeks and converting the international entries to then compare them with the horses here in Melbourne.
“But there is still some form to play and there is a lot of depth there.”
The longtime race administrator says a group of Melbourne Cup contenders could make a resurgence in 2022.
Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds Rekindling and Cross Counter won the Melbourne Cup in 2017 and 2018 respectively, but have missed out on older horses in the past three years.
Carpenter said the absence of the best older stayers could provide another opportunity for that age group on Nov. 1.
“What’s been a bit overwhelming is the number of three-year-olds in the northern hemisphere,” Carpenter said.
“With horses like Trueshan, Kyprios and Stradivarius not entering and Verry Elleegant and Incentivise, last year’s double (in the Melbourne Cup), not being there, the European trainers and Gai Waterhouse understood that this could take a year for emerging three-year-olds in the northern hemisphere influencing the race.