Damien Oliver steers Kalapour into Melbourne Cup field

Kalapour (IRE) ridden by Damien Oliver wins the Lexus Archer Stakes at Flemington on November 4, 2023. Photo by Brett Holburt/Racing Photos via Getty Images

Kris Lees's Kalapour has booked a place in Tuesday's Melbourne Cup by winning the Lexus Archer Stakes at Flemington.

Ridden by legendary jockey Damien Oliver, Kalapour led from start to finish in the 2500m Group 3 contest at Flemington on Saturday.

The John O'Shea-trained Athabascan and Gan Teorainn, for Chris Waller, filled the minor placings.

It was retiring great Oliver's 86th career win at a Melbourne Cup carnival, and came in just the second race of what will be his final appearance at the feature event.

"It's great to get one under the belt early, good for the confidence," Oliver said, before adding another victory next-up aboard Queen Of The Ball in the Furphy Sprint.

"This horse (Kalapour) has been running really consistently all season and it's great that he could win a nice race today.

"He jumped well and I wasn't really planning to lead but the more I got closer to the gates, I thought it was an option.

"I just didn't want to hand it up to United Nations ... they were going pretty pedestrian out of the straight (first time) and I thought, 'Bugger it, why not me?'

"He was so comfortable and relaxed and just in a beautiful rhythm for the whole race and gave me a great kick."

Kalapour is slated to carry 50kg in the Melbourne Cup but could face a weight penalty for the Lexus Archer Stakes win.

Newcastle trainer Lees is set to have two runners in the Cup, with Kalapour lining up alongside Moonee Valley Cup winner Cleveland.

"Especially having that style of run, it wasn't a tough run and we'll see how he pulls up, but I'd expect he'll back up," Lees said of Kalapour.

"He drops to 50 kilos, I think he is. He's a horse in form, which is what you want to see. I think he'll acquit himself well."

Eight winners of the Lexus Archer Stakes have gone on to win the Melbourne Cup in the same year -- most recently Shocking in 2009 -- though recent results have not been good for runners on the quick back-up.

English stayer Prince Of Arran went close when he finished third in the Cup after winning the Archer in 2018.

The Joseph O'Brien-trained Valiant King won't be among the Cup final declarations ahead of Saturday evening's barrier draw.

The four-year-old has been withdrawn on veterinary advice.

All other runners were cleared to accept.

A second pre-race inspection of all horses in the final field will be conducted on Monday.