Cup Diary: Martin fears Wicklow
At The Races presenter Martin Kelly brings us some of the latest news straight from the track ahead of Tuesday's Melbourne Cup.
Part-owner Aidan Shiels is hoping Heartbreak City can defy a wide draw in the Melbourne Cup
Less is more for Bell
Big Orange has seemingly taken his journey to Australia better than 12 months ago – but the same can't be said of his trainer Michael Bell.
Bell was on hand last year when Big Orange finished fifth in the Emirates Melbourne Cup and has been a popular choice for media interviews this time around given his upbeat and in-depth insight into the horse's chances and his view on the rest of the field.
However, when it comes to putting into practice what he learned 12 months ago, Bell hasn't been so successful.
When asked at a media call on Sunday morning what he had picked up from last year, Bell replied: "To drink less – but I haven't been successful."
Hazy memories for Cumani
On a similar theme, Matt Cumani also had an early experience of Australian hospitality and harked back to his maiden Melbourne trip ahead of saddling his first runner in the Cup.
Cumani has only this year started training at Ballarat, from where he has sent out three winners, and he has a huge opportunity with the former Andre Fabre inmate Grey Lion in the world-famous handicap.
Cumani had worked for greats such as Todd Pletcher, Chris Waller, Ed Dunlop and his father Luca before branching out on his own, and travelled to Australia in 2008 with his dad's Bauer, who was beaten a nose in the Cup.
When asked at the same media call what his memories of the trip were, he quipped: "I came down with Ed Walker, who was assistant to my father then, but we were so well looked after that I don't really remember it as I was pi**ed most of the time!"
Martin fears Brave effort
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Dermot Weld holds somewhat legendary status in Australia after he became the first overseas trainer to land a Melbourne Cup with Vintage Crop in 1993, before returning to repeat the trick with Media Puzzle in 2002.
But his contemporary Tony Martin was quick to put the local media in the picture when asked to assess the international challenge.
"Dermot is a very good trainer, there is no doubting that, but Willie Mullins is far past him – he's a legend," said Martin. "He is up there with Vincent O'Brien and the likes. Him and Aidan O'Brien are dominant all over the world.
"Anything Willie runs in a big race you have to respect and his Wicklow Brave is the one to beat here – whatever finishes in front of him wins."
City bids to avoid Heartbreak
The boys behind Heartbreak City – Niall Reilly, Donal Gavigan and Aidan 'Red' Shiels – have certainly livened up proceedings in the build-up to the Cup, and Shiels was a particular highlight at the famous Melbourne Cup parade as he walked along high-fiving and cuddling various members of the crowd.
The Irishman, who now lives in New York where he runs The Irish Rover Pub in Queens, got a huge laugh from the assembled masses when taking to the stage at the lunchtime Federation Square press conference.
When asked by host Shane Anderson how he was, he replied: "I was grand until the lady over there took my Heineken off me."
The larger-than-life character went onto explain how he rated the Ebor winner's chances in Tuesday's race.
"Well he won a maiden hurdle in Tipperary back in May and he beat a horse trained by Joseph O'Brien," he explained. "And tomorrow we will beat one trained by his father too!"
Big guns shun grand parade
At the parade the majority of owners, trainers and jockeys turned out to ride in the open-backed cars through the streets of Melbourne to entertain the thousands gathered and be interviewed by a multitude of television crews.
Godolphin were well represented, as you'd imagine with five of the 24 declared runners, although as usual Saeed bin Suroor gave the event a swerve.
Also looking a little lonely was car number four representing Aidan O'Brien's Bondi Beach.
With the trainer not planning on attending the Cup and with jockey Ryan Moore in transit following a win in Japan on Sunday, it was left to work rider Emmet McNamara and O'Brien's travelling head lad T.J Comerford to fill in and practice their royal wave.
Watch live coverage of the 2016 Melbourne Cup on At The Races (Sky Channel 415) – the special broadcast begins at 2300(GMT) on Monday night.
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