-->

Connections of the Yucatan are very confident that the Melbourne Cup favourite will run out a strong 3200m at Flemington on Tuesday.

James McDonald, above, will ride the favourite, Yucatan, in the 22018 Melbourne Cup at Flemington. Photo by Race Horse Photos Australia.

James McDonald, above, will ride the favourite, Yucatan, in the 22018 Melbourne Cup at Flemington. Photo by Race Horse Photos Australia.

The Aidan O’Brien trained Yucatan was installed as the top pick for the Group 1 $7.3m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) after his stunning win in the Group 2 $400,000 Ladbrokes Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield on October 13 and remains the favourite at $6 with Ladbrokes.com.au on race eve.

Sydney based Kiwi jockey James McDonald eased Yucatan down to a canter in winning the Herbert Power Stakes and told Racenet that the connections, headed up by prominent owner Lloyd Williams, told him that the the Irish stayer will have no worries running out a strong 3200m.

“He should have no dramas with the distance, they (connections) are very bullish about the two miles,” McDonald told Racenet.

“I rode Yucatan in his first (Australian) start and he could have won by eight lengths.

“They knew he was very good but they didn’t think he would do that.”

McDonald is very excited to be riding for Aidan O’Brien, who is regarded as the world’s number one trainer, and will head to Flemington with a great chance to win his first Melbourne Cup.

“I will walk in knowing I am riding for someone very good and I am on a very good chance,” McDonald said.

“It’s not every day you get to ride for the greatest trainer in the world – although Aidan won’t be in Melbourne, I hear he will be in Barbados laying on his back.”

“I haven’t had a sit on him since the Herbert Power but I have spoken to Aidan several times and maybe the less I know the better anyway.”

O’Brien will also saddle up Caulfield Cup third placegetter The Cliffsofmoher ($17) and the Northern Hemisphere three year old Rostropovich ($26)

The Cliffsofmoher will carry the second top weight, 56.5kg, with Ryan Moore to ride while the Rostropovich is the equal lightest weighted runner on 51kg with Irish jockey Wayne Lordan taking the mount.

The Cliffsofmoher is the best drawn of the O’Brien runners at barrier nine while Rostropovich drew barrier twenty-one and Yucatan drew worse at twenty-three in the twenty-four horse Melbourne Cup field.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.