Almandin and Heartbreak City

Kerrin McEvoy winning last year's Melbourne Cup aboard Almandin (Image: Racing Photos)

McEvoy rides Rock but lauds Almandin

Kerrin McEvoy is looking forward to putting on blue racing colours at Flemington on Saturday but not just the familiar royal blue Godolphin silks that have played such a part during his long and successful local and international career.

At 4:15pm on Saturday, McEvoy takes his first ride on Hartnell, who will go around for Godolphin as the hot favourite in the Group 1 PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes.

Just 40 minutes later the shade of blue turns to navy as he takes his first ride on the highly-rated Lloyd Williams-owned import Crocodile Rock in the JRA Trophy.

The latter booking may have come as something of a surprise as also engaged in the race are five of his stablemates - including McEvoy's Emirates Melbourne Cup winner of last spring in Almandin.

For McEvoy has no doubt as to where Almandin ranks after 20 years as a jockey in Australia and for some years in Europe riding for Sheikh Mohammed.

"He's probably the best stayer I've ridden in terms of quality and the way he quickens," McEvoy declared on Wednesday.

"If you've got a horse that stays well and quickens they can often offset the weight rise so we'll wait and see what he can do this year.

"He's the sort of horse that - we cleared out from them last year and Heartbreak City is not here this year - he's lightly raced and he could defy that weight rise (in the Melbourne Cup)."

Damien Oliver rides Almandin on Saturday while McEvoy was given the ride on Crocodile Rock, who has underperformed so far but is expected to make his presence felt in an upcoming staying feature or two.

As for his first ride on the PFD Food Services Makybe Diva's odd-on favourite Hartnell, McEvoy said he was delighted to be asked to partner him this weekend.

"It's nice to get the call-up for this horse," he said. "I jumped on him there in a jumpout at Flemington before he won first-up. He was dominant first-up and this looks a nice race for him come Saturday."

McEvoy has not ridden in Melbourne since the early autumn and just being at Flemington in spring gives the rider a buzz.

"It's always exciting to get back to Headquarters when it's September time," McEvoy said. "It's nice to be walking through the gates with some good chances on a very competitive race day.

"It's great to be putting on the blue colours again and riding some nice horses of Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin.

"Obviously they have been an integral part of my career for - I suppose a large chunk of my career - so it's always pleasing to be going out in a big race for them and Hartnell's a worthy favourite for the race on Saturday."

McEvoy also rides the unbeaten Esperance for the stable in the Danehill Stakes.

"He's obviously up in grade but he's been winning nicely," the jockey noted. "Saturday is another test for this horse but I know James [Cummings] and the team are very happy with him."

McEvoy kicks off the meeting with a ride on the Godolphin filly Jorda in the opening event and he said he expected her to begin the day well for the stable.

"I trialled her as well before her first run back, she was a bit unlucky there first-up having to change course mid-way down the straight," he said. "She's got a nice way about her."

As well as firming the bonds with the local Godolphin stable in Australia, McEvoy is also expected to be called upon by one of Godolphin's UK trainers Charlie Appleby, for whom he had so much success last spring with the likes of country cups winners Francis Of Assisi and Qewy.