Imports give top trainer best ever Cup chance
A DECADE on from a trainwreck tilt at the great race, freakish trainer Aidan O'Brien anticipates a vastly different result with his trio The Cliffsofmoher, Yucatan and Rostropovich in Tuesday's Lexus Melbourne Cup.
As Bart Cummings celebrated his 12th Melbourne Cup win in 2008 with long-time owner Dato Tan Chin Nam and Viewed, champion O'Brien was being grilled by stewards after being summonsed back to Flemington.
It was in the wake of his trio Septimus (Johnny Murtagh), Honolulu (Colm O'Donoghue) and Alessandroa Volta (Wayne Lordan) setting a frantic speed in the Cup before winding up 18th, 20th and 21st.
Chief steward Terry Bailey told O'Brien they had given serious consideration to charging Lordan, who rides Rostropovich for the stable in this year's Cup, with not giving his mount every chance.
O'Brien said the track "was like concrete" and he had given serious consideration to scratching.
"If you are going to penalise me or the lads, that's a nonsense, we have come here in good faith," he said.
Ominously, he conceded that day he needed to change things if he was to win the great race.
"We have to look at our preparation, they (the horses) ran stones below their best," he said.
O'Brien has trained 313 Group 1 winners all over the world, including the Cox Plate in Australia.
His son Joseph beat him to the Melbourne Cup honour roll when Rekindling beat Aidan's Johannes Vermeer last year.
On paper, this year presents his best chance to win one of the few races in the world to have eluded him.
Magnier's son Tom said it's something both his father and O'Brien are desperate to change.
"(Aidan) is very excited. He won't make it here on the day, but he will be watching it with dad and they are seriously excited about it," Magnier said.
"If we can end the year winning this race, it's what we want.
"My dad, on his left hand he could say the races he wants to win and one of them is the Melbourne Cup, so fingers crossed.
"Yucatan is a great chance, they all have good chances. The lads have done very well with the horses, so we will see what happens. We need a bit of luck on the day."