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Melbourne Cup contenders from Royal Ascot
05:50 AEST Mon Jun 24 2013

The European challenge for this year's Melbourne Cup is gathering momentum with several of the Royal Ascot participants earmarked for the trip to Australia.

Dandino, owned by Australian interests, finished second in Saturday's Hardwicke Stakes and trainer Marco Botti confirmed he was on target to try to go two places better than his stablemate Jakkalberry, third in the 2012 Cup.

The Hardwicke Stakes was marred by a riderless horse and the sudden death of the winner, Thomas Chippendale, from an apparent heart attack just after he crossed the line.

"It was a very messy race and he (Dandino) got hampered when the other horse fell and by the loose horse," Botti said.

"He finished the race very well and we will continue preparing him for the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup.

"I think we'll probably give him another couple of runs through the summer over here but I'll have to finalise the plans with the owners."

The Luca Cumani-trained Mount Athos, finished fifth in the Hardwicke and will also be prepared for another tilt at the Melbourne Cup in which he was an unlucky fifth last year.

Opinion, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and the winner of the Edinburgh Handicap on the final day of Royal Ascot, is also pencilled in for the trip to Melbourne.

"A race like the Ebor might be in his sights and, further down the line, maybe even the Melbourne Cup," Highclere Thoroughbreds Harry Herbert said.

"I think Opinion ticks all of the boxes as to a Melbourne Cup horse and there could be more to come as he steps up in distance."

Irish trainer Willie Mullins has already confirmed the Melbourne Cup as the aim for last week's Ascot Gold Cup runner-up Simenon.