Johnny Murtagh saddles two runners in the Melbourne CupPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Murtagh out to add to Ireland's fantastic record
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.