Saturday 19 October 2019

Kew Gardens leads strong Irish team ahead of assault on Melbourne Cup

Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Ireland's team for this year's Lexus Melbourne Cup looks to be in rude health after Irish Champions Weekend with several contenders including Aidan O'Brien's Kew Gardens staking their claim to land the 'race that stops the nation'.

Last Sunday's Irish St Leger at the Curragh is one of the most notable prep runs on this side of the world with last year's Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter blowing some cobwebs off before making his way onto the plan Down Under.

Charlie Appleby's charge was a fine fourth ahead of his back-to-back bid for the €5million prize but the Irish horses either side of him showed plenty of potential which could be exhibited in the November 5 showpiece.

Two-time Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Dermot Weld has a sole entry in Argentinian import Stivers – which never landed a blow in a Group Three at Leopardstown on Saturday – but he could have a live contender for the 2020 edition.

Search For A Song was a brilliant winner of the Group One over 1m6f on just her fifth career start while Kew Gardens – which will carry top-weight in the Melbourne Cup should he travel to Australia – stayed on strongly in the final furlong to claim second.

That was a hugely encouraging run by last year's English St Leger winner and the Ballydoyle maestro should be enthused about the prospect of bringing the son of Galileo to Oz as he eyes a rare omission on his glittering training CV.

O'Brien also had the third home but that was the last race which Southern France will run in his care having been sold by Coolmore to Australian connections prior to the race with the Melbourne Cup in mind.

Joseph O'Brien – successful two years ago when Rekindling gave him his breakthrough training success – had the next three home in the shape of Master Of Reality (fifth), last year's Irish Derby hero Latrobe (sixth) and new recruit Twilight Payment (seventh) as he looks to plunder more Australian gold.

The other Irish trainer with a Melbourne Cup entry is champion jumps handler Willie Mullins, who sent exciting mare True Self into quarantine last week ahead of her long trip to tackle some of flat racing's most lucrative staying prizes.

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