Marmelo (Image: Racing Photos)
Doubts had been cast whether Marmelo would still make the trip for the Lexus Melbourne Cup following his defeat as the odd-on favourite in last weekend's Group 2 Darley Prix Kergorlay.
But on Tuesday, part-owner John O'Neil allayed fears the five-year-old was no longer Australia-bound, confirming plans are still in place for the English stayer to tackle the $7.3 million Lexus Melbourne Cup.
O'Neill told RSN927's Racing Pulse that trainer Hughie Morrison had informed him he'd been happy with how the son of Duke Of Marmalade had performed in France, putting the result down to the track not being to his liking.
"He won that race last year, and having a lengthy chat with Hughie he's pretty confident he's going a lot better this year than he was last, which is really positive," said O'Neil.
"I know that Hughie was pretty happy with the run, he sent a note straight afterwards saying 'Look, the track was very hard, if it had been in the UK we probably wouldn't have run but we just took him over just to give him a bit of a nice pipe opener'.
"I would imagine that he probably won't have another run before the (Melbourne) Cup now.
"His focus is normally to really space those runs out so he'll come over, probably taper off a bit of work and then spark back up three or four weeks before the Cup."
O'Neil also dismissed concerns that connections were worried they'd hit a firm track at Flemington for Lexus Melbourne Cup Day, saying the horse had showed while he appreciates some give in the ground he can perform well on a Good track, evident in last year's Caulfield Cup.
"I think Flemington is traditionally firm but having said that the grass cover is pretty good," he said.
"They've just had no rain over in France at all, so for them the track was really hard, it was a lot harder than what it was the previous year.
"So I think we just deal with those situations how we face them, but I think the grass cover at Flemington is pretty good, he'll be okay."
Marmelo's connections are scheduled to meet on Tuesday to discuss a jockey selection for the Lexus Melbourne Cup, with O'Neil suggesting a number of options are on the table including his regular rider, the Belgium-born France-based Christophe Soumillon, and Hugh Bowman, who rode him in both the 2017 Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
"Christophe has a great relationship with the horse, Ryan Moore has also won on the horse," O'Neil said.
"He's a wonderful rider Christophe but we've got a lot of wonderful riders here (in Australia) too.
"I'd personally love to get Joao Moreira on the horse if we could, I think he'd really suit him, but he's off in Japan now so it will be interesting to see."