Horse racing: Long frustrated, Godolphin sense Melbourne Cup chance

Sun Oct 30, 2016 5:50am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Godolphin's two-decade wait for a Melbourne Cup winner may be set to end on Tuesday, when the powerful stable mounts a formidable assault to gallop off with Australia's richest horse racing prize.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum's team has secured five entrants in the field of 24 at Flemington Racecourse for the famed two-mile handicap, including favorite Hartnell (7-2) and the highly fancied Oceanographer.

Godolphin has known only frustration and near-misses since their maiden bid in 1998, with three second placings by Central Park (1999), Give The Slip (2001) and Crime Scene (2009).

The Sheikh's long-serving trainer Saeed Bin Suroor prepared all three of the runner-ups and is back for another campaign with Secret Number and Beautiful Romance.

"I’m so happy with them, they have traveled really good from England to here and they look in good form, good condition,” Bin Suroor told local media this week.

Both are rated long shots by bookmakers, but the John O'Shea-trained Hartnell has shown encouraging form in the lead-up, coming second behind Winx in the 2,400m Cox Plate at Moonee Valley last week.

Considered a rank outsider weeks ago, British stayer Oceanographer (6-1) has been backed heavily since an impressive win at the 2,500m Lexus Stakes on Saturday.

Trainer Charlie Appleby has also enjoyed recent success on Qewy, who won the lead-up Geelong Cup to secure a berth in Tuesday's A$6.2 million ($4.71 million) race.   Continued...

A bet on the Melbourne Cup horse race is checked before being submitted at a sports betting agency in the center of Sydney's business district, November 4, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed