Fortune deserted Johnny Murtagh in two Melbourne Cup rides but he is counting on two of Australia’s best jockeys to win the race with his first runners as a trainer.
Murtagh has booked last year’s winning jockey Damien Oliver for Mutual Regard and Steven Arnold to ride Royal Diamond at Flemington on Tuesday.
Mutual Regard’s Cup quote has halved since Oliver’s engagement and he promises to do better than Caitano (2001) and Septimus (2008) when they were ridden by Murtagh.
Caitano was midfield to Ethereal and Septimus finished even further down the track in a forgettable Cup for Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien.
“Maybe as a trainer I can do it,” Murtagh said.
“It’s not going to be easy but Mutual Regard is in good form and while Royal Diamond hasn’t been at his best this year he’s fresh and well and if he ran up to his best he could run a good race.”
Murtagh says Oliver and Arnold are both world-class riders and their knowledge of Flemington could make the difference between winning and losing.
“It’s a different style of riding to back home and that’s why I got two top local jockeys to ride for me,” Murtagh said.
Murtagh said Mutual Regard’s win at York in August promised to be a genuine pointer to Flemington because his horse won in fast time on firm ground.
Mutual Regard hasn’t raced since the Ebor and has only had three runs since joining Murtagh’s stable, winning first-up over the Melbourne Cup distance at The Curragh.
Having arrived earlier than his stablemate, Mutual Regard has been to Flemington for a look at the track but Murtagh said both horses had settled in well, especially Royal Diamond.
“He likes the sun on his back,” Murtagh said.
“He also thrived in Dubai and sulks a bit in the cold.”