Aidan O'Brien favouring Melbourne Cup tilt with Cox Plate fourth Magic Wand
Ballydoyle are preparing a three-pronged attack in a bid to land a first Lexus Melbourne Cup on Tuesday week with Aidan O’Brien leaning towards trying Cox Plate fourth Magic Wand over two miles for the first time in the A$8m (£4.25m/€4.93m) showpiece at Flemington.
Magic Wand was beaten four lengths by Japan's Lys Gracieux in the Ladbrokes-sponsored Moonee Valley feature on Saturday and boasts winning form over 1m4f courtesy of victory in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot last year.
A five-time runner-up in top-level company, Magic Wand is a general 33-1 to land Australia’s most high-profile race, while Hunting Horn was shortened to 20-1 (from 66) following his win in Saturday’s McCafe Moonee Valley Gold Cup.
TJ Comerford, travelling head lad for O’Brien, said on Sunday: "They have come out of their races in great order. Hunting Horn is already bucking, while Magic Wand never left a nut last night.
"Magic Wand ran well in a very good race. It was a great effort from her and I don’t think the ground was quick enough for her as some of her best runs have come on fast ground in America. Aidan is leaning towards the Melbourne Cup with her rather than the Mackinnon at this stage.
"Hunting Horn is sometimes a handful and bouncing around the place in the mornings but he was the quietest horse at the races yesterday. They say you want a mile and a quarter horse to win the Melbourne Cup so hopefully that rings true."
St Leger fifth Il Paradiso will head straight to the race and is pleasing the O’Brien travelling team. He is a general 16-1 chance for the Group 1 that O'Brien saddled runner-up Johannes Vermeer in two years ago.
Comerford said: "Il Paradiso is very laid-back and going very well. He looks a million dollars and will head straight there.
"We’ve got great chances and the main thing is to get them there in one piece. A good draw will be key and you need a lot of things to go right.
"Aidan would love to win the Melbourne Cup. We thought we were going to win it with Johannes Vermeer and Mahler ran well, as did Rostropovich last year, so we’ve been knocking on the door."
Wayne Lordan is set to ride Il Paradiso, while Ryan Moore will partner either Hunting Horn or Magic Wand in the Melbourne Cup, for which third acceptances close on Monday morning.
July Cup hero Ten Sovereigns remains in quarantine in Sydney following his below-par effort in the TAB Everest and is entered in Saturday’s A$7.5m (£3.99m/€4.62m) inaugural Golden Eagle at Rosehill along with stablemate Never No More.
Hong Kong’s leading rider Joao Moreira is on standby to ride favourite Constantinople, formerly trained by O’Brien and a best-price 13-2 with bet365 and William Hill, should Glen Boss be unsuccessful in appealing his six-meeting suspension for careless riding at Randwick on Saturday.
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