Melbourne Cup: Peak form plus top jockey gives Ballydoyle hope

Lauded Irish training facility Ballydoyle has never produced a Melbourne Cup winner during its 65 years of existence, but there’s plenty to like about 10/1 favourite Order Of St George ahead of this November’s renewal.

Trainer Vincent O’Brien failed to land ‘the race that stops a nation’ during his 43 years as head of the County Tipperary operation, with unrelated namesake Aidan also firing blanks at Flemington since taking over in 1994.

It hasn’t been all bad news for Irish handlers here, with Galway’s Dermot Weld lifting the prize twice over the past two-and-a-half decades, his 2002 victory with Media Puzzle immortalised in the film ‘The Cup’ five years ago.

National Hunt expert Willie Mullins has also had a decent crack at this in recent campaigns, saddling Max Dynamite to a half-length second under Frankie Dettori 10 months ago.

Weld doesn’t have a runner among the 124 Melbourne Cup 2016 entries, while Mullins inmates Wicklow Brave and Clondaw Warrior don’t yet attract prices in Ladbrokes’ market.

Order Of St George leads it at 10s, ahead of 2014 winner Protectionist at 16/1, and Ryan Moore’s likely presence aboard O’Brien’s colt should be a significant boon.

The English pilot steered Protectionist to a four-length win at 7/1 joint-second favourite odds in 2014, despite Andreas Wohler’s charge carrying second-top weight.

Like Fiorente, Green Moon and Dunaden – the previous three winners – Moore’s mount went into the race off the back of at least one win and one place in his last three starts.

Protectionist made the top two in seven of nine career starts ahead of his Melbourne Cup triumph, while Order Of St George won his sixth race on the spin at the Curragh last weekend, with the four-year-old’s only other run this season seeing him finish second back in late June.

After 100/1 shot Prince Of Penzance’s shock win last year, the Darren Weir-trained New Zealand horse’s first triumph in eight runs, expect proper order to resume this autumn.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.