Japanese Triple Crown winner Almond Eye, and three-time British Group One runner-up Crystal Ocean headline eleven international invites for the Australian Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 26th.
Recent Prix d'Ispahan winner Zabeel Prince - trained by Roger Varian, Prix d'Harcourt scorer Ghaiyyath - trained by Charlie Applebly and Aidan O'Brien's Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Magical also help form the overseas challengers for the A$5million event.
Saeed Bin Suroor has two horses in the race that have both participated down under before, in the shape of Benbatl and Best Solution, who both complete the British and Irish-trained invitees.
The Cox Plate will be seeking a new winner for the first time since 2015 after Chris Waller's superstar Winx has dominated the ten furlong Group One for the past four years, and has since retired.
Almond Eye's connections have already declared the filly will stay in Japan for the foreseeable future after ruling out the Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, but could be open to a shorter trip to Australia.
She returned this season with a victory in the Group One Dubai Turf in Meydan - a race won last year by English invitee Benbatl, but was beaten for the first time on home soil when third in G1 Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo.
Crystal Ocean meanwhile - best of the British challengers has begun with his usual pre-season prep with two victories at Sandown and Newbury at short-odds, before his summer destiny-deciding clashes.
Michael Browell, Moonee Valley's Racing Club CEO, stated that the historic event is seeking a new chapter.
(Credit: Racing Post) He said: “The Cox Plate has long been renowned as ‘the race where legends are made’.
"With A$5 million in prize-money elevating the race to the world’s richest Group 1 1m2f metre turf race, we’re working to assemble a race for the ages and to write a new chapter in the history books.
“Winx has undoubtedly helped elevate the status of our legendary race overseas and without her presence this year the invitations will be made even more attractive to connections of these star international horses.”
Having worked with Racing Victoria to identify suitable potentials players for the coveted contest, the invited horses will have all expenses covered by the Moonee Valley Racing Club [MVRC] if they choose to travel to Australia later in the season.
The MVRC has further maintained its pursuit in targeting Japanese runners north of the equator, and has issued invitations to four top previous Group One winners.
Alongside Almond Eye, Aerolithe, Indy Champ and Kiseki have been invited, while a name familiar to Australian racegoers will be Kluger, who finished a gutsy second to Winx in the 2019 Queen Elizabeth Stakes back in April.
The only Japanese runner to have ever contested the Cox Plate in the past was Tosen Dandy in 2005, prior to the international invitations being introduced in 2012.
Paul Bloodworth, GM International & Racing Operations at Racing Victoria, said: “The MVRC’s international strategy was first introduced in 2013 in an effort to attract the best possible field of ten-furlong thoroughbreds.
"Since the introduction of international invitations, nine horses have taken up the challenge.
“Racing Victoria plays a role in helping the club identify suitable horses and building relationships with these owners around the globe ,to entice them to compete throughout the Spring Racing Carnival.