Charlie Fellowes is hoping a more conventional preparation can help Prince Of Arran go two places better than 12 months ago in the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
Despite having finished an excellent third on his Australia debut in the Herbert Power Stakes the previous month, the globetrotting six-year-old looked like missing the cut for the 2018 Melbourne Cup.
However, he earned himself a last-minute starting berth by winning the Lexus Stakes just three days before ‘the race that stops a nation’ – and then ran a fantastic race in defeat to finish third behind fellow British raiders Cross Counter and Marmelo.
Fellowes has been able to breathe a little easier in the days leading up to the Australian showpiece this time around – after Prince Of Arran confirmed his place in the final field with a narrow victory in the Geelong Cup, meaning he has had just over a fortnight to prepare for his second Melbourne Cup bid – rather than last year’s 72 hours.
“This year we have got a bit more pressure on us than last year, because we were unconsidered last year,” said the Newmarket trainer.
“We went a very unconventional route last year, and it was not an easy route. He had a very hard year ,and I think a lot of people didn’t think he would run his best race, but he ended up running a huge race.
“This year has been very different. He has had a much easier year and he is fresh and well and is peaking at the right time.
“Most importantly he doesn’t have to run three days before the race. He has had a preparation that gives him every chance of running a huge race.”
Fellowes believes there is a simple explanation behind Prince Of Arran’s apparent love of racing Down Under
He added: “It is the flat, round tracks that suit him. He doesn’t smell the barbecues, or see the corked hats and think ‘I’m back in Australia, with the koala bears!’
“He likes Australia because they are flat, round tracks round a couple of bends – which are usually raced on decent ground – and that brings out the best in him.”
Charlie Appleby’s Cross Counter made history by becoming the first British-trained winner of the Melbourne Cup last year, and is back to defend his crown on Tuesday under William Buick.
Since that momentous triumph, the son of Teofilo has won the Dubai Gold Cup and run with credit in defeat after returning to Europe in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, the Goodwood Cup and the Irish St Leger at the Curragh.
The third and final British challenger is the Richard Hannon-trained Raymond Tusk, who was last seen finishing a creditable fourth in the Ebor at York in August.
Jamie Spencer takes the ride and will carry the colours of the hugely successful syndication group Middleham Park Racing, for whom 15 owners are involved with this high-class four-year-old.
Speaking on the www.middlehamparkracing.net, racing manager Tim Palin said: “Having a runner in Australia’s ‘race that stops the nation’ has been a long-held dream for many an MPR owner, and we are delighted to announce that we believe we finally have a live contender for their $8 million dollar, 3200-metre race.”
Joseph O’Brien won the 2017 Melbourne Cup with Rekindling – and fresh from becoming the youngest trainer to saddle a Breeders’ Cup winner when Iridessa stormed home in the Filly And Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Saturday, he launches a four-pronged assault at Flemington.
Frankie Dettori takes the ride on Master Of Reality, James McDonald partners Latrobe, Hugh Bowman is on Twilight Payment and John Allen keeps the ride on Downdraft following his Lexus Stakes win on Saturday.
Aidan O’Brien has three runners in Il Paradiso (Wayne Lordan), Magic Wand (Ryan Moore) and Hunting Horn (Seamie Heffernan).