Johnny Murtagh saddles two runners in the Melbourne CupPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Murtagh out to add to Ireland's fantastic record
UNLIKE Britain, Ireland has an excellent winning record in the Melbourne Cup and Johnny Murtagh is hoping to add to their two victories in the race with his duo Mutual Regard and Royal Diamond.
Since setting up as a trainer last year Murtagh has proved as adept at training stayers as he was at riding them - among his many Group 1 wins were two Ascot Gold Cups on Yeats - and his pair have proved their stamina in the past, with both winning over the Melbourne Cup trip.
Murtagh said: "They've both won at two miles in Europe and both of them go on fast ground so I think the race will suit them.
"They're in good shape and their work is done now. They're fit, they're well and I hope they're good enough. The draw is good, they're in the middle so there's no problem."
Dermot Weld, who opted not to send a runner this year, won the race for Ireland with Vintage Crop in 1993 and Media Puzzle in 2002 and it is three-time Cups winner Damien Oliver, who won on Media Puzzle, who Murtagh turns to for the ride on 10-1 shot Mutual Regard.
"Damien is probably one of the best jockeys I've ever ridden against. His record in the race is great and I think he'll suit the horse just like I believe Steve Arnold, who is a great balanced rider, will suit Royal Diamond," Murtagh said.
Europe's leading hope in the race is the German-trained Protectionist, who will have the considerable assistance of Ryan Moore in the saddle. A lightly-raced four-year-old, Protectionist ran a big race to finish fourth in the Herbert Power and has been a standout performer at Werribee quarantine centre.
France's sole representative in the race is the Andre Fabre-trained Au Revoir, who is looking to become the third French-trained winner in five years. He was a bold third in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup a week ago.