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Mr Maestro. Photo / Bruno Cannatelli

Defeats on Derby Day ended Melbourne Cup week for three of the big-name Kiwi representatives, but at least three others could still be on target for Group 1s on Saturday.

Derby runner-up Sharp ‘N’ Smart and the two unplaced Empire Rose favourites La Crique and She’s Licketysplit are all on the plane back to New Zealand on Wednesday, where they will spell and be prepared to return to Australia in the autumn.

Co-trainer Katrina Alexander says she was proud of La Crique’s fourth in the Empire Rose, and if she heads to Australia as expected in the autumn, it would be for a longer campaign, potentially getting out to 2000m.

“James [McDonald, jockey] suggests over here, she may actually be a better 2000m horse, so that gives us options next year,” says Alexander.

“We don’t have any plans for her yet and we both still think she won’t be fully mature until next season, so we have something to build on.”

An enthusiastic lunch in Melbourne with the owners of Sharp ‘N’ Smart wasn’t enough to persuade trainer Graeme Rogerson to start the Derby runner-up in the A$3 million Champion Stakes on Saturday, so he is also off to the paddock.

She’s Licketysplit returns home after a wonderful spring campaign but her two stablemates Mustang Valley and Mr Maestro could potentially contest the Champion Stakes.

“We won’t make any decisions until Tuesday when we have a better idea of who is going to accept in what races,” says trainer Andrew Forsman.

“But it would be a shot at an Australian Group 1 for Mustang Valley so her owners might be keen to go that way. They also have two other potential options.

“We could even back up Mr Maestro after his fourth in the Derby. A lot will depend on the field strength but with so many options for the best horses nobody knows what race they are going to turn up in.

“So we will keep our options open with Mr Maestro, and Mustang Valley will definitely start in one of the big races on Saturday.”

Another newcomer to the carnival will be Matamata mare Levante, who will take on Nature Strip and Everest winner Giga Kick fresh-up in the Champions Sprint down the Flemington straight.

But there will be no New Zealand-trained starters in Tuesday’s A$8 million Melbourne Cup, although six of the starters were bred here.

Incredibly McDonald, who won the Cup on Verry Elleegant last season and is rated the world’s best jockey, will have to watch the Cup from the jockey’s room.

He has been left without a Cup ride after his engaged runner Loft was withdrawn with a minor leg issue, and the eight starters in the Cup with enough weight for McDonald to ride them all had riders committed.

● Former NZ 2000 Guineas winner Catalyst has been retired after a lacklustre performance on Saturday at Flemington.

Catalyst has struggled with physical issues over the last two years and will be retired to his old home at the Oaks Stud.

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