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Monday 21 August 2017

High regard for oliver

Murtagh plumps for jockey with pedigree

Johnny Murtagh has confirmed that Damian Oliver will partner Ireland's leading Melbourne Cup hope Mutual Regard a week on Tuesday.

Oliver has already earned a place in Irish history after he won the race in 2002 aboard Dermot Weld's Media Puzzle, a second success in the race for the trainer and now Oliver is hoping to win the race for a second Curragh based trainers after getting the call up from Murtagh last weekend.

Despite being a three-time winner Oliver had looked set to not have a ride in the race until Murtagh got in contact and the trainer revealed on Twitter yesterday morning: "Confirming Damian Oliver rides Mutual Regard in the Melbourne Cup. Both horses will work in Geelong Racecourse both jockeys will ride them in their work."

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Oliver, who won the race last year on the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente, said; "I was starting to get concerned when I didn't have one (a Melbourne Cup ride) and when Johnny rang me on Sunday I was really pleased to take the ride."

"Obviously he's a good stayer. The Ebor is traditionally a good form-guide for the Melbourne Cup. And without a stand-out Melbourne Cup horse this year, I think he's got a good chance.

"He's in good form, Johnny is a good trainer; he's been down here and experienced the Cup, so he knows what type of horse is needed.

"So I don't think he would have brought him all this way if he didn't think he had a real chance."

Meanwhile, jockey Wayne Lordan jets off to Australia on Saturday ahead of his ride on Eddie Lynam's top sprinter Slade Power in two weeks time.

Lordan is going down early to familiarise himself with the Australian way of racing and is looking forward to the challenge.

"It's very exciting and when you have a horse like Slade Power it is even more exciting because he would have a real chance and hopefully everything works out," Lordan said.

"I'm going to be out there on Saturday and Slade Power will be doing a barrier trial during the week," Lordan explained.

"I'm going to try and ride a few bits of work for people and it would be great to get the opportunity to ride in a race out there but I suppose it is their biggest carnival of the year and like anywhere in the world (for big meetings) there won't be too many spare rides."

Of the opposition facing Slade Power, the jockey added: "The Australian sprinters come for Royal Ascot and they are very competitive and they're not going to be any different down there.

"We're going there to take on three or four top sprinters, but he's our top sprinter over here so I don't mind going to battle with him."

Adelaide will be the first Irish runner of the Spring Carnival in Saturday's Cox Plate.

Aidan O'Brien said: "It is a long way to go and you have to have a horse that you believe could be very competitive. This horse has continued to develop."

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