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Spot in Melbourne Cup Field on the line at Flemington

Having already booked his ticket in the Caulfield Cup, imported stayer Harlem will try to cement a place in the Melbourne Cup.

Harlem runs in Saturday’s Group Three Bart Cummings at Flemington, with the winner of the 2500m-race earning a ballot exemption into next month’s $6 million Melbourne Cup.

A convincing win in the Naturalism Stakes (2000m) last start earned Harlem automatic entry to the $3 million Caulfield Cup on October 21.

BUt he is 59th in the most recent Melbourne Cup ballot order.

The field for the Bart Cummings includes reigning Melbourne Cup winner Almandin who is already qualified for this year’s Cup, and the early favourite.

He could spoil the party for a number of the stayers trying to secure a Cup spot.

Almandin won the Bart Cummings last year on his way to Cup glory and was an emphatic winner over 2500m at Flemington last month in his second start of this spring.

British-bred Harlem did his early racing in France before joining the Lindsay Park stable in Australia, making his Australian debut during this year’s autumn carnival.

His dominant last-start win was his first victory in Australia and co-trainer David Hayes believes he can go on with the job and book a Melbourne Cup berth.

Harlem has the widest barrier in Saturday’s field of 12 but that doesn’t concern Hayes.

“I think the gate is good for him because he can stay out of trouble,” Hayes said in his weekly stable update.

“He’s an elite English stayer trying to qualify for the Melbourne Cup 2017. We were able to qualify him for the Caulfield Cup the other day.

“I know he’s got the Melbourne Cup winner to beat but he’s got a little bit of a weight pull and I think he’s a horse on the rise.

“This will be interesting if he can qualify for the Melbourne Cup in his final lead-up to the Caulfield Cup. So he’s got some exciting times ahead.”

Dwayne Dunn, who won the Naturalism on Harlem, has the ride on Saturday while Hong Kong-based Chad Schofield has been booked to ride the stayer at 51.5kg in the Caulfield Cup.

Almandin is the $2 favourite for the Bart Cummings ahead of Harlem at $4.

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