Melbourne Cup favourite Hartnell wins the Turnbull Stakes for Godolphn trainer John O'Shea (Image: Racing Photos)
The combined Godolphin assault on the 2016 Emirates Melbourne Cup continued into Saturday evening when the majority of Sheikh Mohammed’s team drew well for Tuesday’s $6.2 million race.
Godolphin is now in the unprecedented position of having the first two favourites for the race the team has been unable to win since having its first runner in 1998. The race favourite Hartnell drew suitably in barrier 12 while second favourite, the Lexus Stakes winner Oceanographer drew alongside in barrier 11.
Most of the connections at Saturday night’s draw were hoping for between barriers six and 12 so as to give their riders plenty of options to the first turn.
Charlie Appleby, who trains both Oceanographer and Qewy (15), was a relieved man after the draw that he didn’t pick horror barriers.
‘’We’ve got half decent draws so that makes it a lot easier,’’ he said.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin team will have five runners across three stables on Tuesday following the Lexus Stakes win of Oceanographer, who tumbled into $6.50 following his victory.
Saeed bin Suroor trains two of Sheikh Mohammed’s chances in the race and he was happy with barrier one for the mare Beautiful Romance and barrier 10 for Secret Number.
The Caulfield Cup winner Jameka might have to create a weight-carrying record of 54.5 kilograms on Tuesday, but she was helped out at the barrier draw, coming up with gate 3.
Lloyd Williams part-owns four of Tuesday’s starters and he too had some luck at the draw with the Aidan O’Brien-trained Bondi Beach coming up with barrier five while Gallante came up with barrier two. But his other two runners are out wide with Almandin coming up with gate 17 and Assign barrier 22.
One of the strongest European chances on Tuesday is the Irish Champion Stakes winner Wicklow Brave, but he looks likely to be on the drift in the market after coming up with gate 24.
There were 27 horses paid-up for at the final payment stage at 4.30pm on Saturday afternoon, but after the Victoria Racing Club committee met shortly before 6pm, it was decided no alterations would be made to the final field.
The result of that decision was that Vengeur Masque (25th), Tom Melbourne and the unqualified De Little Engine were all balloted.