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T.J. Comerford, the traveling foreman for Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, has been bullish on Yucatan’s Melbourne Cup chances all week.
Even after drawing barrier 23, an unlucky gate no horse has won from since 1976, Comerford feels the track downgrade after heavy showers in Melbourne won’t pose a problem to any of his chances.
“The amount of rain that you get here is not going to do any difference to the ground, these horses get a lot softer tracks at home, it won’t make any difference,” Comerford told RSN.
The O’Brien stable has three chances running in the Cup: Yucatan, The Cliffsofmoher and Rostropovich. As far as $6.50 favourite Yucatan is concerned, Comerford remains unfazed.
“The ground will be quick enough for Yucatan and the rest of them, it won’t make any difference whatsoever.”
Yucatan has won once on the soft, good news considering plenty of surface water is beginning to build on the Flemington track.
The plan for the $7 million feature will likely be to race out wide and swoop in late. Jockey James McDonald is tasked with tackling the sticky conditions, a big ask for the 26-year old who is yet to win a Cup.
“I’m sure James has a plan, James is a cool customer, he’ll know what to do” Comerford went on to say.
“I’d rather have someone like James on him that will just take it as it comes.
“It’s great that he’s rode him before and knows what he’s dealing with, he’s got plenty of speed, he stays, he’s got all the attributes of a horse you probably want in a Melbourne Cup.”
Yucatan won the Herbert Power Stakes last start with McDonald on board, one of the key lead up races heading into the Melbourne Cup. He won comfortably by a length and a half, but it could have been much more considering McDonald let him down over the final furlong.
With a devastating turn of foot, Yucatan is every chance of turning on the burners down the straight today.
“You do need a horse that has a couple of gears, and this horse has plenty” Comerford concluded.
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