Master Of Reality working at Werribee (Image: Racing Photos)
Jockey Ben Melham acknowledges Master Of Reality is a 'quirky' horse but feels familiar enough with the Northern Hemisphere five-year-old gelding to be comfortable heading into Tuesday's $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Master Of Reality was second past the post in last year's Lexus Melbourne Cup but was relegated to fourth on protest after not plotting a straight path under Frankie Dettori during the final 150 metres of the race.
And while there were no signs of such waywardness during an easy canter alongside Twilight Payment - who is also trained by Joseph O'Brien - at Werribee racecourse on Friday morning, Melham gained an insight into Master Of Reality's mind.
"He's a little bit quirky, I just noticed him flicking his head from the kickback (on the polytrack) from the canter," Melham said.
"I also noticed Frankie (Dettori) last year gave him plenty of room (in the Lexus Melbourne Cup). He's a bit of an old cruiser but you know, his action is good, he looks great and his work again was good."
Friday was the second occasion in as many weeks that Melham had ridden Master Of Reality ahead of the Lexus Melbourne Cup: "Having the benefit of sitting on him a couple of times, you just learn a bit about the horse which can only help you on race day.
"I think having the benefit of having that run here last year will also hold him in good stead. He's pretty straightforward, a well-credentialled horse that has been set for the race."
Master Of Reality has raced four times since last year's Lexus Melbourne Cup, steadily building fitness throughout the year. He was beaten by an aggregate margin of 19 lengths from two clashes with Twilight Payment earlier in 2020 when clearly not at peak fitness.
Master Of Reality then produced an excellent second, conceding 5kg to the winner Delphi, in the G3 Irish St Leger Trial (2816m) at the Curragh on August 14, before winning the Listed Her Majesty's Plate (2816m) at Down Royal when he was ridden positively for the first time this year and scored by 3.5 lengths.