Damien Oliver has been booked to ride Mutual Regard in the 2014 Melbourne Cup and the leading hoop believes that the talented stayer is a genuine chance in the Group 1 event at Flemington on Tuesday.
Oliver recorded his third victory in the Melbourne Cup when he piloted Fiorente to success in last year’s race, but just over two weeks ago he looked as though he would not have a ride in the 2014 edition of ‘the race that stops a nation’.
Hugh Bowman was originally booked to take the ride on Mutual Regard, but when the leading Sydney hoop looked as though he would miss Melbourne Cup day due to suspension, trainer Johnny Murtagh elected to call Oliver and offer him the ride.
Oliver said that he was thrilled to be given the opportunity to ride for his old friend and rival and he told Sky Racing Radio this morning that he is confident Mutual Regard can deliver him a fourth Melbourne Cup victory based on his impressive victory in the Ebor Handicap (2816m) at York on August 23.
“Johnny Murtagh asked me to ride it a couple of weeks ago,” Oliver said.
“I was looking like I might not have a ride in the Cup there, so I was very happy to take the ride.
“He is pretty lazy, but Johnny told me not to take too much notice of that and he does switch on, on race day.
“His last start win was very good and that is the performance I am really taking notice of.”
While Oliver is bullish about the prospects of Mutual Regard in the 2014 Melbourne Cup, he admits that there are plenty of winning chances in the race and feels that the Hernando gelding will need to perform at his very best to record a maiden win at Group 1 level.
Oliver rates Admire Rakti as the biggest danger to Mutual Regard, but he also believes that Fawkner and Lucia Valentina are capable of winning the $6 million event based on their impressive Melbourne Cup lead-up form.
“Obviously Admire Rakti’s win in the Caulfield Cup was very good.
“Fawkner coming off his Cox Plate run has been the form horse of the spring and Lloyd loves winning the Melbourne Cup, so I dare say that he is going to be thereabouts.
“Lucia Valentina, especially now that she has drawn a good gate, she is going to get a good run and I expect her to run well.”
Mutual Regard is currently available at 2014 Melbourne Cup odds of $13 and is on the sixth line of betting behind Admire Rakti ($5), Lucia Valentina ($7.50), Protectionist ($7.50), Signoff ($8) and Fawkner ($9.50).