Irish dual licence holder Johnny Murtagh will wait until after a meeting with owner Andrew Tinkler before deciding if his classy stayer Royal Diamond makes the trip to Australia for the Group 1 $6.2m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 5.
The champion jockey, who recently took up a trainer’s licence as well, ruled out a Caulfield Cup assault with Royal Diamond, opting instead to run in the Group 1 €200,000 Gain Irish St Leger (1 mile, 6 furlongs) at the Curragh in Ireland last Sunday.
Royal Diamond, who won the St Leger last year, would have had to go into quarantine two days before the Irish feature race if he were to run in the Group 1 $2.65m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 19, but a trip to the Melbourne Cup is still an option.
Royal Diamond ran below par according to Murtagh when fifth to Voleuse De Coeurs in the St Leger after beating the Dermot Weld trained filly at their previous meeting in the Group 3 €60,000 Gain Irish St Leger Trial Stakes (1 mile, 6 furlongs) at the Curragh on August 24.
“He’s come out of the race okay, he’s a little bit tired,” Murtagh told setanta.com.
“I don’t think he probably ran up to form. The winner had probably improved a good bit and the ease in the ground would have helped her.
“It’s tough making the running into a headwind. He got a bit flat-footed then he stayed on in the end.”
Murtagh will meet with Tinkler later in the week and discuss Melbourne Cup plans after the seven year old received 54.5kg when the weights were leased yesterday.
“I haven’t spoken to Andrew yet. The weight is the weight, there’s nothing you can do about that – that’s what he’s rated!”
Weld has decided against a Melbourne Cup start this year for St Leger winner Voleuse De Coeurs but is keen to set her for the $6.2m Group 1 staying test next year, giving her twelve months to mature.
The top Irish trainer has tasted Melbourne Cup success in the post with Vintage Crop in 1993 and Media Puzzle in 2002 and certainly knows what is needed to bring the Cup back to Ireland.
“When I go there, I want to go and win with her,” Weld told RSN.
“She is quite capable of doing it and probably will do it next year.
“She is still a big, immature filly. I can see her filling into her frame and next year as a five-year-old, she should be reaching her peak.
Royal Diamond is now a $61 chance for the Melbourne Cup after missing a place in the St Leger.
The Darren Weir trained Puissance De Lune remains at the top of the market order and is an easing $7 favouirte, just in front of the Gai Waterhouse trained Fiorente.
The English import was runner up to Green Moon ($17) in last year’s Melbourne Cup and showed that he is on track with a last stride win in the Group 2 $300,000 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley last Saturday.