Mutafaweq heads Melbourne weights

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The Independent Online

A total of 276 horses have been entered for the Melbourne Cup at Flemington on 6 November, with the weights headed by Godolphin's Mutafaweq, winner of the Coronation Cup at Epsom in June.

Mutafaweq has been allotted 58.5kg, approximately 9st 4lb, which compares favourably to the 59.5kg he would have carried last year if he had taken his chance. As well as Mutafaweq, Godolphin have six other entries, including Yorkshire Cup winner Marienbard and last season's Ebor Handicap winner, Give The Slip (both with 8st 11lb).

British-trained contenders figure strongly at the top end of the weights published yesterday. David Elsworth's Persian Punch, third in the 1998 Melbourne Cup, will have to carry 57.5kg (9st 2lb).

On the same weight are John Dunlop's San Sebastian and Amanda Perrett's Solo Mio. Further down the handicap are the Barry Hills-trained Rainbow High and Sir Michael Stoute's pair, Cover Up and Dalampour.

Mark Johnston has three entries, the Ascot Gold Cup winner Royal Rebel, Akbar and Double Honour, on the equivalent of 9st, 8st 10lb, and 8st 5lb respectively. But Johnston has reported that it is "unlikely" any of the three will make the journey down under.

Greg Nichols, the general manager of Racing Victoria, is hoping for a strong representation from Europe come the day of the race. But, of the main contenders from nearer home, Nichols said: "Universal Prince, who won the Australian Derby last year, is favourite locally at around 10-1 but Marienbard has also been popular.

"Silvano [trained in Germany] has been well backed for the Cox Plate. But this weekend is when things will start to hot up," Nichols added.

Bookies hit by Fallon

Kieren Fallon punished the bookmakers yesterday on his first visit to Hamilton for three years. Fallon had a double on Majurita and Tony Tie and the latter took over £55,000 out of the betting ring, including one bet of £22,000 to £8,000.

Tony Tie's trainer, Jim Goldie, was saddling his first winner for 23 days, and said : "I thought he'd win, and Mr Fallon is a good man at ending losing runs!" Majurita gave trainer Nick Littmoden his first win for 24 days.

Kevin Darley, Fallon's main rival for the jockeys' championship, also scored a double, with wins on Dennis El Menace and Chemicalattraction. Darley was cautioned by the stewards for careless riding on Material Witness, runner-up to Tony Tie. Fallon's mount had been sent for a gap on the rails two furlongs out, but Darley's horse caused interference.