Irish trainer Johnny Murtagh is hoping that Damien Oliver’s good luck will continue when he rides Mutual Regard in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday.
Oliver was one of the stars at Flemington on Derby Day today winning back to back Group 1s on Happy Trails in the $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) and on Preferment in the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m).
“Damien Oliver, I hope he didn’t use up all his luck today,” Murtagh said at the Melbourne Cup barrier in the Phar Lad Lounge at Flemington.
“I’ve heard of all the great stories and hopefully this is one.”
“I’ve known Damien for a long time, I’ve ridden against him in Hong Kong. He is probably one of the great jockeys I have ridden against over the years. He came over to Europe and rode a couple a winners and stayed with me.”
Mutual Regard drew midfield at barrier twelve in the twenty-four horse field and Murtagh said that Oliver will be given no specific riding instructions.
“He’s got great experience, he’s won the race three times. I won’t be giving him any instructions,” Murtagh said.
Mutual Regard is a proven two miler and comes to Melbourne in winning form after taking out the £265,000 Betfred Ebor (Heritage Hanidcap) (1mile, 6 furlongs) at York in England, on August 23.
Mutual Regard is the winner of seven races from seventeen starts but has yet to record a victory at Group level, even though the Ebor is highly rated as the richest handicap in Europe.
Murtagh will also saddle up nine year old Royal Diamond who also drew well at barrier six with Steven Arnold to ride.
“I was hopeful to get the middle draws. We got both middle draws, got six and twelve. It’s good and both horses will stay the trip well and I’d say they will probably roll forward and we just need a bit of luck.”
“They are in great form, have settled into Werribee very well. Mutual Regard is not a flashy worker in the morning come race day he really improves.”
Royal Diamond is also a winner over the 3200m when he took out the 2013 Group 3 £200,000 The QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup (2 miles) at Ascot and Murtagh is happy with him going into Tuesday’s race.
Royal Diamond’s latest form include a second in the Group 3 €60,000 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger Trial Stakes (2816m) at the Curragh in Ireland on August 24 and a last start sixth in the Group 1 €300,000 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger Stakes (2816m) at the Curragh in Ireland on September 14 .
“He is a horse that gets up on the bit, he travels really strongly, He has settled into his place very well. He is moving well.”
Mutual Regard is well fancied in the Melbourne Cup market order with Ladbrokes.com.au at $13 while his stablemate Royal Diamond is one of the outsiders of the field at $51.
Japanese stayer Admire Rakti has maintained his spot at the top of the betting at $5 since his win in the Caulfield Cup with Lucia Valentina and the German stayer Protectionist sharing the second line of betting at $7.
Cox Plate runner-up Fawkner is next in the market order at $8 with the Darren Weir trained Signoff now an $8.50 chance after winning the Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington today.