Melbourne Cup Field of 24 Drawn

The final field of twenty-four has been drawn for Monday's running of the Toohey's New Melbourne Cup. A couple of the entrants had to put in late work to make the prestigious field.

The Dermot Weld-trained Media Puzzle drew in with his decisive victory in the Geelong Cup just over a week ago. He has attracted the services of top Australian jockey Damien Oliver.

Oliver will ride with a heavy heart in this year's Cup after his younger brother Jason, 33, died following a fall during a training race at Perth's Belmont Racecourse on Monday. It was the second time Oliver has had to face a racing tragedy within his family. His father Ray was killed in a fall during a race in 1975.

Weld was reportedly delighted to hear his contenders, Vinnie Roe, in stall seven, and Media Puzzle, in the three barrier, have each gotten a good draw for Tuesday's big race at Flemington.

It is expected that neither horse would be too far away from the pace. Rider Pat Smullen said he would expect to ride Vinnie Roe to beon the pace, as he has throughout his career.

Godolphin's trio did not fair so well when the draw took place. Pugin drew barrier 15, Beekeeper 20 and Hatha Anna 22.

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor indicated that he was not troubled by the draws.

Trainer Bart Cummings, the winner of eleven previous Melbourne Cups, had to wait until the last few days to see if he would have a runner in this year's event. He qualified for Monday's race by placing second in Saturday's Saab Quality Handicap with Miss Meliss. Cummings believes it will be almost impossible for his mare to win, saying Irish horse Media Puzzle would be too strong.

Melbourne top bookmaker Michael Eskander has three international runners as equal favorites for the Melbourne Cup. He has made Beekeper and Pugin, both from the Godolphin stable, and Media Puzzle 5-1 choices for this year's event.

Former favorite Vinnie Roe has been slipping in the betting ring as of late and is currently holding at 7-1. Rain Gauge and Distinctly Secret are the best supported of the Australasian contingent at 14-1.

Melbourne Cup field in saddlecloth order, jockeys and draw
VINNIE ROE Patrick Smullen 7
DALIAPOUR Michael Kinane 1
SANDMASON Steven Arnold 13
HATHA ANNA Richard Hills 22
FREEMASON Darren Gauci 11
MAGUIRE Dan Nikolic 8
PUGIN Frankie Dettori 15
RAIN GAUGE Greg Childs 14
BEEKEEPER Kerrin McEvoy 20
HAIL Noel Harris 16
MEDIA PUZZLE Damien Oliver 3
MR PRUDENT Corey Brown 4
PRIZED GEM Michael Rodd (a) 24
VICTORY SMILE Danny Beasley 2
CYCLADES Scott Seamer 5
GREY SONG Chris Munce 23
THONG CLASSIC Brett Prebble 21
MISS MELISS Craig Newitt (a) 10
REQUIEM Craig Williams 12
(a) denotes apprentice rider