Morrison keen for Melbourne Cup repeat with Marmelo

Flemington on the agenda for a third time

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Hughie Morrison would like to give Marmelo the chance to go one place better than 12 months ago in the Lexus Melbourne Cup.

Speaking at a launch event for the ‘race that stops a nation’ in London on Monday, the East Ilsley handler outlined his ambition to give the six-year-old a third shot at Flemington glory in November.

After finishing ninth in the 2017 renewal, the son of Duke Of Marmalade, who could contest the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud on June 30 on his next start, found only the Charlie Appleby-trained Cross Counter too strong in the Group One contest last year.

Morrison said: “After our hugely exciting race last year, we feel there is a very good reason to go back. It is one of the biggest races in the world and it would be a real achievement if I could win it.

“I think we didn’t ride him quite right at Epsom in the Coronation Cup last time. We hadn’t run him there the year before as we didn’t think he would like the course and he didn’t, and I don’t think he had a particularly hard race.

“He wasn’t beaten that far at Epsom and he didn’t disgrace himself. He is in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and we are hoping for some soft ground.

“I think that is his most likely option and it might have thinned out a bit with the combination of the Prince of Wales’s and the Hardwicke this week.

“He could then go to the Kergorlay or the Irish St Leger, then I would like to think we will be off to Australia.”

Finishing one place behind Marmelo in last year’s Melbourne Cup was fellow British raider Prince Of Arran, and his trainer Charlie Fellowes has every intention of sending his globetrotting star back for a second shot at the race.

He said: “The whole build up to the race was nothing like I have experienced before. It is a race that hopefully I will come back over and over again to try to win.

“He is in great form and has had a little holiday since Dubai. He will probably head for the Ebor, then hopefully go back to Australia. He might go for the Lexus Stakes (which he won last year) again beforehand.”

Rain may have scuppered the chances of Muntahaa giving trainer John Gosden victory in last year’s race, but the Newmarket handler hopes that one, or both, of the Khalid Abdullah-owned pair of Weekender and First Eleven could develop into live contenders.

He said: “Muntahaa walked into about four inches of rain on the day which wasn’t his favoured surface as he won the Ebor on quick ground.

“First Eleven will run in the Ebor, he will have one run before and he is one that could fit the Melbourne Cup.

“Weekender could be another to fit the bill. He would want to see the ground on top and the other would handle the rain.

“It is a wonderful race on a quite beautiful racecourse, where they put on a show and a half. It is in that top four with Royal Ascot, the Arc and Breeders’ Cup.

“It is one of those events it is fantastic to win, but that is wonderful to be there for.”

Having been keen to see a British runner triumph in the world-famous contest, Victoria Racing Club chairman Amanda Elliott believes it is a something that could now happen on a more regular basis.

She said: “I was wanting to see a British-trained winner last year, particularly as we were in the 25th anniversary of Vintage Crop, the first internationally-trained horse, to win it.

“It was magnificent to watch Cross Counter win on the first Tuesday in November last year.

“The impact these marvellous horses make when they travel to jurisdictions round the world is fantastic as it makes the races more exciting. It is now part of a programme rather than an afterthought.”

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