Royal Diamond is currently available at 2014 Melbourne Cup odds of $51, but trainer Johnny Murtagh is confident that the tough stayer will perform better than his quote suggests in the $6 million event at Flemington on Tuesday.
Mutual Regard has been easily the more popular of the two Murtagh-trained horses in Melbourne Cup betting markets and he is currently on the fifth line of betting at $13, while Royal Diamond has flown under the radar since arriving in Australia.
Royal Diamond was unable to record a race win in his four starts in the United Kingdom and Ireland this season, but the King’s Best gelding has previously taken out some of the biggest staying races on the European racing calendar, including the 2012 Group 1 Irish St Leger (2816m) and 2013 British Champions Long Distance Cup (3218m), and Murtagh said at the Melbourne Cup barrier draw that he has been thrilled with the trackwork of the veteran gelding leading into the Melbourne Cup.
“Steve Arnold rode him in the morning and he is mad about him; he said that he is moving great,” Murtagh said.
“He is a horse that gets on the bit and travels really soundly.
“He has settled into the place very well, he is moving well and I think that he will outrun his 50 to 1 odds.”
Royal Diamond was one of the biggest winners from the 2014 Melbourne Cup barrier draw that was held at Flemington yesterday and jockey Steven Arnold will have plenty of options when the Group 1 winner jumps from barrier six.
Murtagh is confident that Royal Diamond will have no problems running out a strong 3200 metres in the Melbourne Cup and he expects Arnold to take up a forward position in the early stages of the race, while three-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver will follow similar tactical instructions on Ebor Handicap winner Mutual Regard.
“We were hoping to get the middle draws and we got both middle draws in six and 12,” Murtagh said.
“Both horses stay the trip well, so I would say they will probably roll forward and we just need a bit of luck.
“I hope the horses get both jockeys there to the 200 metres and then may the best man win.
“They are in great form and have settled into Werribee very well.”
Royal Diamond has remained steady at Melbourne Cup odds of $51, while Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti ($5) is still a clear favourite from talented mare Lucia Valentina ($7), German stayer Protectionist ($7.50) and Lloyd Williams-owned Fawkner ($9).