Damien Oliver sees Kalapour through to Melbourne Cup ahead of great race farewell as field locked in

Trainer Kris Lees expects Kalapour to acquit himself well in the Melbourne Cup after the seven-year-old gelding won his way into the field via the Lexus Archer Stakes.

Ridden by retiring champion Damien Oliver, Kalapour led from start to finish in the 2500m Group 3 contest at Flemington on Saturday to book a spot in the race that stops a nation.

Kalapour later drew barrier 14 for Tuesday’s Cup, while favourite Vauban will jump from barrier three next to last year’s winner Gold Trip (two).

Caulfield Cup winner Without A Fight (16) and Chris Waller’s Soulcombe (four) were also still among the favourites after the barrier draw.

Zac Lloyd will ride Kalapour in the Cup with Oliver already committed to Mike Moroney’s Alenquer, who drew barrier nine.

“Unfortunately, he is a bit light for me,” Oliver said of Kalapour.

“But I am happy with Alenquer. He ran well last time.

“It will be difficult for him to win but he will be better than his odds suggest.”

Kalapour was not penalised for his Archer win, meaning he will carry 50kg in the Cup, where Lees expects him to be a realistic top-10 chance.

“Especially with that style of run (in the Archer). It wasn’t a tough run,” Newcastle-based trainer Lees said.

“We’ll see how he pulls up but I’d expect him to back up.

“He drops to 50 kilos … he’s a horse in form which is what you want to see. I think he’ll acquit himself well.”

Lees has two runners in the Cup, with Kalapour lining up alongside Cleveland.

The Moonee Valley Gold Cup winner will jump from barrier 23 under Michael Dee.

Who else but Damien Oliver ????

It’s a Golden Ticket into Tuesday’s Cup for Kalapour who takes out the Group 3 Lexus Archer Stakes in a strong display of staying power over the 2500m #DerbyDay

???? @10SportAU pic.twitter.com/PWbHWhH6wx

— Victoria Racing Club (@FlemingtonVRC) November 4, 2023

Eight winners of the Lexus Archer Stakes have gone on to win the Melbourne Cup in the same year – most recently Shocking in 2009 – though recent results have not been good for runners on the quick back-up.

English stayer Prince Of Arran went close when he finished third in the Cup after winning the Archer in 2018.

Ciaron Maher and David Eustace will saddle up the most runners of any stable in this year’s Cup, with Gold Trip leading the charge.

The stable also has Right You Are (barrier 15), Ashrun (11), Future History (13) and Interpretation (17) in the 3200m test.

Maher said he was “rapt” with the five runners and is more confident in Gold Trip than he was last year, when Mark Zahra rode him to victory.

Gold Trip will be ridden in the Cup by James McDonald, who won Saturday’s Victoria Derby for Waller aboard favourite Riff Rocket.

Maher wasn’t overly fussed about Gold Trip’s barrier draw.

“I was sort of hoping around the middle somewhere, but still, you never pass up a good gate,” Maher said.

“The horse is well and what will be, will be.”

>> Check out the full Melbourne Cup field here

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