The competition to line up in the third annual $300,000 Jericho Cup will intensify this week, with the winners of the final two qualifying races at The Valley (Friday, 13 November) and Thoroughbred Park in Canberra (Sunday, 15 November) guaranteed a start in the unique 4600m contest at Warrnambool.
Won last year by the Ciaron Maher And David Eustace-trained Ablaze, who would subsequently return to Warrnambool to claim the Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m), the Jericho Cup honours the bravery of the Australian Light Horsemen and their mounts during World War One.
Friday night's 'win and you're in' race at The Valley, a Benchmark 78 Handicap over 3800m, has attracted 10 stayers including Cliff Murray's Alienated, who currently sits joint top of the Jericho Cup qualifying leaderboard alongside Ciaron Maher Racing's last-start winner Wil John.
Maher and Eustace will saddle up another last-start winner in Dambulla on Friday night, whilst other runners of note include the David Noonan-trained Da Deputy, who featured in last year's Jericho Cup and will be ridden for the first time by AAMI Victoria Derby-winning jockey Lachie King.
Attention then turns to the nation's capital on Sunday, when Thoroughbred Park holds its second annual Road to the Jericho Day, with the winner of the 3400m feature race securing their place in the Jericho Cup at Warrnambool on Sunday, 29 November.
Should an overseas-bred horse win either contest, the golden ticket will instead be given to the first Australasian-bred horse home, with the Jericho Cup only open to horses born in either Australia or New Zealand.
Greg Carpenter, Racing Victoria's (RV) Executive General Manager of Racing, said: "The Jericho Cup has rapidly become one of the iconic races on the Australian racing calendar, and we are very much looking forward to the third edition which will be held at Warrnambool in just a few weeks' time.
"A number of 'Road to Jericho' qualifiers have been held across Australia and New Zealand throughout the year, and the races at The Valley on Friday night and in Canberra on Sunday represent the final chances for horses to claim a guaranteed start in the 2020 Jericho Cup.
"The Jericho Cup has become a major success since it made its debut in 2018 and RV wishes to thank philanthropist Bill Gibbins, who first came up with the concept, on his continuing commitment to a race which recognises the courage of the Australian Light Horse.
"This year's Jericho Cup will again reward owners and trainers who have targeted the race by providing prizemoney to the connections of every horse which makes the final field of 14."
The winner of the Jericho Cup will receive a cheque for $150,000, with the runner-up winning $50,000 and $30,000 going to the third placegetter.
Nominations for the Jericho Cup close at 12pm (AEST) on Tuesday, 17 November. Should there be sufficient horses balloted from the Jericho Cup, a consolation race over 4065m will also be held at the meeting.
The Jericho Cup commemorates the race which was originally conducted in 1918 on the eve of a major offensive by the Australian Light Horse against the Turkish Empire. The inaugural Jericho Cup was won by Bill the Bastard, arguably Australia's greatest war horse.