Newcastle trainer Kris Lees and Hunter owners Australian Bloodstock have secured Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michael Rodd to ride Mustajeer in the $8 million race (3200 metres) next Tuesday at Flemington.
Rodd, who won the 2007 Melbourne Cup on Efficient, was confirmed on Monday. It came despite a report Rodd was set to ride 2019 Cup winner Vow And Declare for trainer Danny O'Brien.
Mustajeer, which is 12th in the order of the entry, was second last in the 2019 edition under Damien Oliver in just his second start for Lees after coming to Australia.
The eight-year-old gelding has had four unplaced runs this preparation but produced his best effort last start with a four-lengths eighth in the Caulfield Cup (2400m).
The improved showing convinced connections to press on to the Melbourne Cup. He is set to have his main piece of trackwork in the Cup lead-up on Tuesday at Sandown.
"He was one of the favourites last year at one stage so I think he's a little bit of a forgotten horse," Australian Bloodstock director Luke Murrell said. "I was happy with his run in the Caulfield Cup and I think he'll run top 10."
Raheen House was set to make the field but Lees and Australian Bloodstock have pulled the pin on his Melbourne stint. Murrell said the wet-track specialist could instead race in Sydney.
Collide and Almania are other imports now out of the running for the Melbourne Cup. Collide has been spelled after a slight setback, while Almania was given a lower rating than connections expected and will target other races over the Melbourne carnival.
Australian Bloodstock, though, have Ashrun taking a last shot at making the Cup field on Saturday in the Lexus Hotham Stakes (2500m).
Ashrun is trained by German Andreas Wohler, who won the 2014 Cup with the Australian Bloodstock-owned Protectionist.
Murrell had hoped Ashrun would make the Cup field with natural attrition but he was 29th in the order of entry on Monday for the 24-horse field.
Ashrun was fourth in the Geelong Cup (2400m) last week in his only Australian start.
The winner of the Lexus Stakes gains a start in the Cup three days later.
"He's probably got to go to the Lexus now," Murrell said.
"The ones that were going to the paddock have changed their mind. It's not ideal doing that, trying to win that race and then the Cup, but it's still worth a bit of money so we'll have a crack."
The Lees-trained Chief Ironside will run in the group 1 Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday if he gets dry conditions.
He was scratched from the Crystal Mile at Moonee Valley last Saturday because of a wet track.