Royal Diamond has been a forgotten horse in the 2014 Melbourne Cup field, but trainer Johnny Murtagh is confident that the veteran stayer will run a big race in the Group 1 event at Flemington next Tuesday.
Murtagh-trained Mutual Regard has impressed onlookers with his trackwork since arriving in Australia and he has been one of the best-backed runners in 2014 Melbourne Cup betting markets in the past two weeks, while Royal Diamond has received very little attention at the Werribee International Equine Centre and is currently available at 2014 Melbourne Cup odds of $41.
Royal Diamond made his racing debut in 2008 under the care of Sir Mark Prescott and he has been a consistent performer since making his debut, but has developed into one of the best stayers in the United Kingdom in the past two years
The King’s Best gelding finished second behind fellow Melbourne Cup contender Willing Foe in the 2012 edition of the Ebor Handicap (2816m) before he made his Group 1 debut with an upset win over Massiyn and Brown Panther in the Irish Leger at Curragh.
Royal Diamond was not overly impressive in two race starts in Dubai during the 2013 Dubai World Cup festival, but he returned to his best form when he returned to England and he finished third in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup (2816m), second in the Group 3 Curragh Cup (2816m) and took out the Listed Challenge Stakes (2816m).
The veteran stayer beat Voleuse De Coeurs in the Group 3 Irish St Leger Trial Stakes (2816m), but finished a disappointing fifth in the Irish St Leger before he returned to winning form in the Group 3 British Champions Long Distance Cup (3218m) at Ascot.
Royal Diamond started his 2014 racing season with a second place finish behind the talented Leading Light in the Group 3 Vintage Crop Stakes (2816m) at Navan on May 18, but he failed to fire in the Group 1 Gold Cup (4023m) during the Royal Ascot meeting.
The Northern Hemisphere eight-year-old returned to racing with a close second in the Irish St Leger Trial Stakes and he finished sixth in the Irish St Leger before making the trip to Australia for the Melbourne Cup.
Murtagh told TVN this afternoon that he has been happy with the condition of both Mutual Regard and Royal Diamond heading into the 2014 Melbourne Cup and he believes that Royal Diamond has a better chance of success than his Melbourne Cup odds suggest.
“He loves two miles and he has class on his side,” Murtagh said.
“He’s an Irish St Leger winner, so he’s got a lot in his favour.”
Murtagh will be involved in the Melbourne Cup for the first time since he partnered Septimus in the 2008 edition of the race.