Marmelo working at Werribee (Image: Racing Photos)
English raider Marmelo is back bigger and stronger ahead of his second attempt at Lexus Melbourne Cup glory according to Hugh Bowman, who will again partner the Hughie Morrison-trained stayer in the $7.3 million race.
Bowman hopped aboard Marmelo at Werribee on Wednesday morning and was impressed.
"There's no doubt about that, more mature, obviously last year he was four this year he's five," Bowman said.
"The horse appears to have travelled over very well, all the signs are good but I guess the reality is we're not going to know until after the race are we.
"I was very pleased with it, worked alongside the same horse that he worked with last week, they did a bit more this morning so I was very pleased with how he felt, I felt he had a nice bit in hand so yeah he's going well, he's ticking over nicely.
"Obviously it would be a childhood dream come true to win the Melbourne Cup and I feel I'm going in with a horse that is a realistic chance of doing that.
"However, it's a very difficult race to win and there's a lot of scenarios that could eventuate you know and there's many chances this year, I think it's a very open race and I think it's very difficult to identify who is going to win now."
Bowman partnered the international last spring in an impressive first-up showing, finishing sixth in the Caulfield Cup, before a ninth placing in the Lexus Melbourne Cup when starting as equal favourite.
This time around there's been a change in plans for the son of Duke Of Marmalade to go fresh into the Lexus Melbourne Cup, and it's a program strongly supported by Australia's leading rider.
"Obviously he didn't run as well in the Melbourne Cup as he did the Caulfield Cup, so I guess for me I take comfort in knowing that he's been over here already and travelled well and I know what he's capable of performing fresh off the plane," he said.
"It's well-documented that Hughie wasn't so keen on running last year in the Caulfield Cup, but the decision was made to run him and he ran very well which gave us all a lot of confidence, including the public, going to the Melbourne Cup, because he did start favourite."
Morrison has flown into Melbourne to oversee his entire and admits there's a lot on the line regarding whether the decision to run the stayer fresh will prove the winning key.
"You know if you don't learn from previous experiences you're not being particularly clever," Morrison said.
"Next week might prove me wrong, that we could have done with an extra run, but you know I've always felt that he's a horse who runs well fresh."
Marmelo again worked with fellow English galloper Magic Circle at Werribee on Wednesday morning, finishing the last 400m in 23.65 seconds.
"It gives me confidence we're going the right way," Morrison said.
"It wasn't too intense, last week we did it the other way around and this week we followed the lead horse, so neither of us were going to be winning the gallop, I don't believe in that anyhow for either horse, so it looked a satisfactory gallop.
"According to the scales he's lost a bit of weight but he doesn't look like that to me, he looks very well in his skin which is important and he seems very laidback out there.
"I think physically he's done well, he looks as well as he did before he left.
"Honestly though I think you need a Group 1 horse handicapped to be a Group 3 horse to win this race, so we've got a way to go, because I think we're a Group 2 horse handicapped as a Group 2 horse."