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Dandino leads European challenge for Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup

European imports have been dominating the Melbourne Cup in recent years but we are still awaiting the first English-trained winner of the race. Ireland and France have enjoyed success but even the massed ranks of Godophin have failed to produce a winner for England.

That could all change on Tuesday with Italian born Newmarket based trainers Luca Cumani and Marco Botti both saddling leading contenders. Cumani has twice finished second in the great race and rated Mount Athos as his best ever chance last year.

His hopes were thwarted by a slow early pace which left Mount Athos having to weave his way through traffic to finish fifth under Ryan Moore. Cumani felt that Jamie Spencer was at fault at Ascot and Goodwood this summer and has turned to experienced local rider Craig Williams this year.

There have been few more impressive trials than that put up by Dandino in the recent Caulfield Cup. Having been given a seemingly impossible task from a wide draw, he flew in the closing stages to finish second to Fawkner.

Marco Botti has trained the horse specifically for this race all season and won the American St Leger after two excellent runs in the UK. Botti saddled Jakkalberry to finish third here last year and there is every chance that Dandino can end the hoodoo for English-trained runners.

Irish hopes rest with the gallant Simenon, a winner twice within four days at Royal Ascot last season and runner-up to The Queen’s Estimate in the Gold Cup in June. He ran a good trial when third in the Herbert Power Stakes and is now guaranteed a place in the starting line up with Richard Hughes taking the ride.

The French have a tremendous recent record in the race having won with Dunaden and Americain and the former is back again this year. He won the Caulfield Cup 12 months ago but disappointed in the big race and is the mount of Jamie Spencer this time.

His Highness The Aga Khan has his first ever Melbourne Cup runner with the smart stayer Verema and Michael Owen’s Brown Panther also represents the foreign contingent. He won the Goodwood Cup in fine style and has impressed local work watchers since his arrival in Australia. Royal Empire represents Godolphin and 2011 runner-up Red Cadeaux is back again for Ed Dunlop.

The home defence is led by former Sir Michael Stoute-trained Fiorente, runner-up to Green Moon last year. Irish St Leger winner Voleuse de Coeurs makes her debut for her new Australian owners and another former Stoute inmate, Sea Moon, bids to give owner Lloyd Williams an incredible fifth win in the race.

The final field and barrier draw will be made after racing on Saturday when the winners of the Mackinnon Stakes and Lexus Stakes have the option of running on Tuesday.