Returning to racing in typically competitive form through 2014 so far, jockey Steven Arnold is thrilled to have secured the ride on classy international raider Royal Diamond in today’s Melbourne Cup 2014 and has revealed he is likely to lead the nine-year-old towards the fore of the pack from jump.
Securing a commendable total of ten wins and a further eleven minor places from his 36 competitive appearances on course so far, Royal Diamond finished a close second to Leading Light in the Group 3 Irish St Leger Trial (2816m) first-up on August 24th before claiming a credible sixth behind 2013 Melbourne Cup contender Brown Panther in the Group 1 Irish St Leger (2816m) on September 14th.
Pleased with the form and class displayed by the King’s Best gelding in his races this year, Arnold partnered Royal Diamond in a strong piece of work at Geelong late last week and told AAP he is yet to settle on a specific plan, but will likely work towards the lead.
“I don’t know if he’ll be in front but it looks like he’s pretty good from the stalls,” Arnold said.
“I’ll be a bit positive through the first two furlongs (400m) and get a spot and be in a position where he can use his strength a bit.”
One of two Johnny Murtagh-trained runners confirmed for the Melbourne Cup 2014 alongside Mutual Regard, Arnold said he is thrilled to have been offered to ride on Royal Diamond and is hoping to repay the faith placed in him in Race 7 this afternoon.
“Johnny was a great jockey and someone to listen to,” Arnold added.
“He’s happy with both horses and is confident that they’ll run well.”
A standout performer for Murtagh since transferring to his care from the stables of Thomas Carmody partway through 2013, Royal Diamond finished second in last year’s edition of the Curragh Cup (2816m) and continued to impress via victories in each of the Listed Challenge Stakes (2816m), Irish St Leger Trial and Group 3 Long Distance Cup (3218m).
Finishing second in the Group 3 Vintage Crop Stakes (2816m) before a luckless run for 12th in the Group 1 Gold Cup (4023m) over a short campaign at the beginning of this year, Royal Diamond is yet to receive much more than a sprinkling of wagers for success in Melbourne Cup 2014 betting markets and has drifted to current odds of $81 at Ladbrokes Australia.