English trainer Charlie Appleby has arrived in Australia in time to see Oceanographer win his way into the Melbourne Cup with a come-from-behind win in the Lexus Stakes.
Third behind stablemate Qewy in the Geelong Cup, Oceanographer needed to win Saturday’s Lexus (2500m) at Flemington to gain an automatic Cup berth after hovering on the borderline.
His Lexus win means Appleby will have two runners – Qewy and Oceanographer – for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation, which will have five all up.
Oceanographer was immediately elevated to $5 second favourite for the 2016 Melbourne Cup behind Australian Godolphin horse Hartnell, which is trained by John O’Shea.
The sheikh’s other runners are Beautiful Romance and Secret Number from the Saeed bin Suroor stable.
“Whether he can win I don’t know, but I do know he can back up,” Appleby said.
Tom Melbourne ($4.40) led everywhere but the final 50m, going down by a long neck to the $2.70 favourite.
Another O’Shea-trained horse, Tally, was third but is not likely to run in the Cup, although he is qualified.
Kerrin McEvoy, who rode the Appleby-trained Scottish to second in the Caulfield Cup, was aboard Qewy at Geelong and Oceanographer at Flemington.
Although he has both in the Melbourne Cup, McEvoy has a previous commitment to the Lloyd Williams-owned Almandin on Tuesday, and Chad Schofield will ride Oceanographer, which has been penalised one kilogram to 51kg.
Glen Boss, who rode Tom Melbourne, said he didn’t think he stayed the trip and the jockey was likely to switch to Geelong Cup runner-up Grey Lion.
The Cup field will be declared on Saturday afternoon.