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Mutual regard straight for cup

Johnny MURTAGH is due to return home from Melbourne this week after a flying visit to check on one of his Melbourne Cup hopefuls Mutual Regard.

The Curragh based trainer flew out late last week to take a check on the Ebor winner who is based at Werribee Racecourse with the rest of the International horses running at this years Spring Carnival.

"He has settled in well but he is a pretty straightforward horse and travelled over good," Murtagh said of the five-year-old who has been looked after by the stables apprentice jockey Ross Coakley since he flew to Australia.

"He lost a few kilos travelling but he's putting that back on now. He seems to be nice and fresh and Ross (Coakley) seems to be very happy with him.

Last year's sole Irish runner in the Melbourne Cup was the Willie Mullins-trained Simenon who ran in the Herbert Power Stakes on route to the Melbourne Cup but Murtagh is keen to go straight to the big day with Mutual Regard who he feels is better fresh.

The trainer said: "I think he'll go straight for the race.

"He is a horse that goes well fresh and there's not a lot of him so he doesn't take much hard work. It's starting now, he has a month to go and it'll be a busy month ahead of him - he has to take all his work and go forward from each bit.

"So I think he's going to go straight there and I just hope I have him in the same form that I had him when he turned up at York.

Murtagh is also due to run the stable star Royal Diamond who was entered in the second batch of quarantine after running in this year's Irish St Leger and he is due to arrive in Melbourne on Saturday with the race now four weeks away.

"Valerie (Keating) that is looking after him in quarantine is very happy. He's moving great and if he turns up here with his 'A game' he'll have a definite shout. He is a seasoned traveller and he has been to Dubai and really enjoyed that so I don't think there will be any problems with him.

"He comes on Saturday and Valerie will be coming down with him to oversee his preparation and it is very exciting to have two horses in the Melbourne Cup.


Murtagh himself rode in the Melbourne Cup on two occasions but has plenty of previous experience of Australia having gone there to ride for a winter in his younger days as a jockey and he's looking forward to now being involved in one of the worlds biggest racing festival's as a trainer.

"I'm very excited.

"I was at the races on Saturday and there was a great buzz and it's very, very well done and well run down here, it's very professional and I've seen a few things here over the last few days that really impressed me.

"It's a huge carnival and there are huge races to be run and I'm looking forward to coming back about a week before the Melbourne Cup and getting into the atmosphere of the whole lot."

Meanwhile, another Irish globetrotter is the Tom Hogan trained Gordon Lord Byron and he is set to run at Ascot after his decent display at Longchamp on Sunday.

Hogan said: "He's 100 per cent and likely to go to Ascot for the Champions Sprint,"