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Ciaron Maher and David Eustace have four chances to win their first Melbourne Cup

Having secured a first Victoria Derby, the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace stable is looking to add a first Melbourne Cup trophy to the cabinet.

Hitotsu won Saturday’s Derby and on Tuesday Maher and Eustace will saddle four runners for their attempt at Australia’s great race at Flemington.

This year’s quartet – Explosive Jack, Persan, Grand Promenade and Floating Artist – look their strongest hand yet, although there is a major stumbling block in Cup favourite Incentivise.

“Looking at him (Incentivise) he will run two miles (3200m),” Maher told RSN.

“I don’t think you can find a chink in his armour, but it is a handicap. Two miles with that sort of weight, he’ll have to be right up to his best to do it, but it is probably his to lose.”

Explosive Jack, a three-time Derby winner during his three-year-old season, is the highest-weighted of the team, but is coming off a poor showing in the Caulfield Cup at his last start.

Maher said up until that stage Explosive Jack had been progressing well.

“One of the owners, Tim Porter, told me the other day that his sire Jakkalberry did the same thing, ran 13th in the Caulfield Cup and then ran third to Green Moon in the Melbourne Cup,” Maher said.

“I said ‘you could have told me that two weeks ago and I wouldn’t have been pulling my hair out’.”

Persan finished fifth to Twilight Payment in last year’s Cup and Maher believes the gelding is going better this year coming off a last start third to Incentivise in the Caulfield Cup.

“He’s a big price, he’s got a nice weight, and you know he will run the two miles,” Maher said.

“Last year he got right back in the Melbourne Cup and finished fifth, whereas when Linda (Meech) rode him in the Caulfield Cup, he was able to use his action and his stride.

“I think he races better that way.”

Grand Promenade has had a similar preparation to Persan last year being in work most of the year.

And like Persan, Grand Promenade confirmed his place in the Cup field with victory in The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington on October 2.

“I’m rapt with the prep Grand Prom has had,” Maher said.

“The month in between runs is ideal for him and one of his best wins was when he had about 30 days in between races.

“He’s a genuine two-miler and he’s in with a lovely weight and I think he’s a huge show.”

Floating Artist gets into Tuesday’s race on the minimum weight of 50kg and was able to do so without having to roll the dice in one of the ballot free races.

“If you tried to plan Floating Artist’s preparation for the Melbourne Cup, you probably could not do it any better,” Maher said.

While believing all four are genuine contenders, Maher rated Grand Promenade and Floating Artist just ahead of the other two stayers.

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