The Haymes Paint Jericho Cup (4600m) draws closer, with Racing Victoria revealing the likely option for a Jericho Cup consolation race to be added to the Warrnambool card in December.
The feature race, a brainchild of philanthropist Bill Gibbins and a tribute to the three-mile race conducted by the Australian Light Horse in Jericho outside of Palestine during WWI, is capped at a field of 12 plus four emergencies, with only Australasian-bred horses eligible for the 4600-metre race.
From the jockeys' perspective, only those who hold a highweight license will be able to participate.
Also, RV has announced on Tuesday that should the $300,000 Cup fetch a field of at least 10 runners, a consolation race run over 4065m worth $40,000 will be scheduled on the same day for those that miss a run in the major event.
The consolation race would carry a ballot-exemption for the winner, for the 2019 Jericho Cup.
Furthermore, if the consolation event gets the go-ahead - which would seem likely given the high interest in the Cup - it will also be for highweight riders exclusively.
With jumps racing finished for 2018, RV has scheduled races on the following cards to help the highweight riders prepare for the December 2 raceday: Kilmore (Monday, 8 October), Stawell (Monday, 22 October), Kilmore (Monday, 12 November) and Mornington (Monday, 19 November).
Entries for the Jericho Cup close at midday on November 20, with weights for the Benchmark 90 event revealed the following day, and acceptances taken at midday on November 27.
Qualifying for the event has been underway since the idea became reality and the race was put back on the map in early 2017.
With points on offer on a 3-2-1 basis for all 3000-metre-plus races run at TAB meetings, as well as select shorter races plus double points in certain instances, stayers of all capabilities with Australian and NZ breeding have been putting the score on the board.
Leaderboard (discounting retired horses):
10 points - Bayanova, Spur On Gold
8 points - Thunder Road, Weave
7 points - Choysa, Crafty Cruiser, Prize
6 points - Fanatic, Grassini, I'll Miss You, My Diamantine, Who Shot Thebarman, Zarantz
5 points - Cuban Fighter
4 points - Bidrectional, Dudemanbro, Duke of Staghurst, King of Sting, Megablast, Spying On You, Sunset Superman
Ahead of those on the leaderboard are four ballot-exempt horses.
WA Cup winner Dark Musket (Graeme Ballantyne), Queensland Cup runner-up Anton en Avant (Stephen Lee) and High Mode (Anthony Freedman) while the Lindsay Park-trained Dane Hussler is also ballot-exempt but the mare has since been retired.
There are still several chances for horses to pick up points to qualify for the inaugural Cup, including:
October 22 - Stawell BM58 Highweight (3600m);
November 3 - Morphettville BM82 (2500m);
November 6 - Echuca BM64 (3200m);
November 6 - Flemington Melbourne Cup (3200m);
November 6 - Hobart Open (3200m) - double points/ballot-exempt race;
November 16 - Moonee Valley BM70 (3000m) - double points/ballot-exempt race;
November 17 - Sandown Cup (3200m); and
November 19 - Grafton BM66 (3120m).
RV executive general manager - racing and participant wellbeing, Greg Carpenter, said: "We're delighted to join with the Warrnambool Racing Club and Bill Gibbins in celebrating the centenary of the Jericho Cup, a defining moment in the history of Australia, and delivering this unique staying contest with a rich $300,000 prize pool.
"The contenders for the Jericho Cup are taking shape and with a number of qualifying races still to come there's plenty of opportunities for Australasian-bred stayers to secure the points to push their way up the order of entry before nominations close on 20 November."
Gibbins, managing director and founder of the Cup, said: "We have been working on this project of reviving the Jericho Cup for a long time and it is incredibly exciting that we are now only two months away from the raceday. I look forward to seeing which horses nominate as we edge closer to what will be an extraordinary day at Warrnambool on Sunday, 2 December."
The 2018 Cup will be run just over 100 years after soldiers gathered horses in Palestine, outside Jericho, for a three-mile race during WWI - the race was famously won by a horse called Bill The Bastard.