It is nothing new for champion Irish trainer Dermot Weld to be in Australia with a horse that is ready and able to win the Melbourne Cup.
What is unusual about Weld’s latest visit is that he is happy with the condition of the Flemington track as he is with his Cup runner Galileo’s Choice.
Weld, who arrived in Melbourne on Sunday to oversee his 10th Cup mission, is the only foreign trainer to have won Australia’s greatest race twice, having succeeded in 1993 with Vintage Crop and in 2002 with Media Puzzle.
Almost every one of those visits has been accompanied by a concerted plea for more water to be put onto the track.
This year though, he is content.
“It’s the best I’ve seen the Flemington track look in 20 years,” Weld said.
“It’s firmer than I’d like, but you never know, we might get a spot of rain.”
The clear impression is that if some rain fell before the race, Galileo’s Choice would find a few lengths.
A seven-year-old veteran of only 16 starts, Galileo’s Choice comes to Melbourne without having run in Weld’s favoured Cup lead-up, the Irish St Leger.
Like Vintage Crop, however, he has been toughened up with a couple of hurdle runs, having won over the jumps four runs back.
Again, as Vintage Crop did, he was also off colour when he arrived in Melbourne, suffering with so-called transit fever.
“We had a problem when he arrived with a very high temperature from his transit fever,” Weld said.
“But he’s responded very well, and fortunately he bounced back quick.”
Despite his jumping preparation, Weld described Galileo’s Choice as a “slightly delicate horse”.
“But he’s also very talented, he’s clean-winded and he likes to be kept fresh.”
Freshness is something he won’t be short of.
Galileo’s Choice has raced four times this year, winning a hurdle at Fairyhouse in February, finishing seventh in the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and then winning a Listed 2800m race on the flat in July before a last start success in a Group Three over 2400m On August 9.
Weld believes Galileo’s Choice would have won the Irish St Leger if he’d run in it and he also believes he can win him a third Melbourne Cup on Tuesday.
“It’s a very good Melbourne Cup, a better one than most years,” he said.
“But I’m sure he’ll represent us very well … he won’t let anybody down.
From Weld, that’s as close as it gets to calling his horse a “good thing”.
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