Jockey Damien Oliver will ride high profile Irish stayer Mutual Regard in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.
Hugh Bowman had been in the running to ride the Johnny Murtagh trained six year old but the Irish trainer was quick to engage Oliver when Bowman was suspended from last Saturday’s Caulfield Cup meeting and looked set to miss Melbourne Cup day.
But even though Bowman was able to get four meetings shaved off his twenty meeting suspension, he was overlooked for the Mutual Regard ride.
Murtagh confirmed the booking of Oliver on Twitter, “Confirming Damien Oliver rides Mutual Regard in Emirates Melbourne Cup,” Murtagh tweeted.
Oliver was happy to get the call from Murtagh on Sunday and is giving Mutual Regard a genuine chance in the Melbourne Cup going on his latest European form.
“I was starting to get concerned when I didn’t have one (a Melbourne Cup ride) and when Johnny rang me on Sunday I was really pleased to take the ride,” Oliver told Racing .com.
“Obviously he’s a good stayer; the Ebor is traditionally a good form-guide for the Melbourne Cup.”
“And without a stand-out Melbourne Cup horse this year, I think he’s got a good chance.”
Three times Melbourne Cup winning jockey will get a feel of Mutual Regard when he partners him in a track gallop with stablemate Royal Diamond at Geelong on Saturday morning.
Oliver added his third Melbourne Cup to his trophy cabinet last year when he won on Fiorente for Gai Waterhouse following his emotional win on the Irish stayer Media Puzzle for Dermot Weld in 2002 and his win on Doriemus in 1995 for trained Lee Freeman.
Mutual Regard booked his trip to Australia after winning the richest handicap in Europe, the £265,000 Betfred Ebor (Heritage Hanidcap) (1mile, 6 furlongs) at York in England, on August 23.
Murtagh won’t run the Hernando gelding before the Melbourne Cup but is confident that he will go in the ‘two miler’ in great order.
“He goes well fresh, there is not a lot of him and he doesn’t take much hard work,” Murtagh told Racing.com.
“I am just hoping I can have him in the same shape as I had him when he toweled up in the York.”
“He has settled in very well and he is a very straight forward horse.”
“He came good, lost a few kilos, but he is putting that back on now which is good.”
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 win is highly rated.
In the latest pre post market order for the Melbourne Cup with Ladbrokes.com.au, Mutual Regard is listed as a $19 chance.
Caulfield Cup winner, Japanese stayer Admire Rakti, is the current favourite at $4.80 ahead of German visitor Protectionist at $6.50, Lucia Valentina at $7, Caulfield Stakes winner Fawkner at $13 and the Chris Waller trained Junoob at $17.