Sonnyboyliston to Miss Melbourne Cup 2021
Commercial content | T&C apply | Please play responsibly | 18+
As the weights were announced for the 2021 Melbourne Cup, joint top-weight Sonnyboyliston now looks set to miss the big race on November 2.
Despite the lack of international runners this year at Flemington, overseas horses were dominating the top order. The weights, released on Tuesday (September 14) by the Victoria Racing Club, had Joseph O’Brien’s defending champ Twilight Payment joint-top with up-and-coming stayer Sonnyboyliston of Johnny Murtagh’s yard on 58kg.
The two both ran in the Irish St Leger on Sunday, a Group 1 contest at the Curragh. The pair finished 1-2 there and up to last month, the winner was due to take in the Melbourne Cup.
For more information on Twilight Payment and other favourite runners for this year’s edition, check out our complete Melbourne Cup betting guide.
Murtagh Star to Be Given a Rest
Despite being sired by miler Power, Sonnyboyliston has been a revelation this year over longer distances. After a reasonable start to the European season, the four-year-old came into his own over 2800 metres.
A good sixth behind potential top-notcher Hukum at York in July was followed up with a win over the same track and trip. In the Ebor, Europe’s richest handicap race, Sonnyboyliston held on for a famous win. He improved again to land the Irish St Leger at the Curragh, beating Twilight Payment in the process.
Now however it has been confirmed that a break is needed. It was confirmed by Racing Victoria’s Paul Bloodworth that a rest was now on the cards. He may well be back next season however to challenge for the big one.
European Horses Given Big Weights
The loss of Sonnyboyliston is a blow to the race. That being said and despite their relative lack of participation this year, European horses occupied four of the top 6 in the weights announced on Tuesday.
As well as the Irish Leger winner and 2020 champ Twilight Payment on 58kg, Andrew Balding’s Spanish Mission and Gold Trip were each handed 57kg. The latter will be prepared by Ciaron Maher and David Eustance when he arrives in Australia. He may be aimed at the Cox Plate in advance of the race.
Another Cox Plate contender is State Of Rest. He, along with Spanish Mission and Gold Trip, remain in pre-export quarantine. They’ll be released from Newmarket well in time to travel for the Carnival.
Former European-trained Sir Dragonet, last year’s Cox Plate hero, is now the highest-rated Australian horse. He is set to carry 57.5kg which makes the 57kg given to Verry Elleegant and the 55.5kg handed to Incentivise look pretty tasty.
Despite Sonnyboyliston’s defection and the weights handed out, European runners will still be popular. Twilight Payment perhaps deserves his big weight, but he will no doubt be anchored somewhat.
The value in among the European horses may well lie in Spanish Mission. Andrew Balding’s runner has proven himself this year to be the best stayer on the continent behind Stradivarius.
If conditions suit, there is no doubt he has the quality to go close off his racing weight.
Read more news about the Melbourne Cup.