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Oceanographer ready for Cup back-up

Mike Hedge

The success enjoyed in Australia by Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby’s team this Spring has exceeded all hopes and expectations.

Wins in G3 races at Geelong by Qewy, at Bendigo by Francis Of Assisi, at Flemington by Oceanographer have rewarded a bold plan to target races that hadn’t previously been on the Godolphin radar.

On Tuesday the grand scheme moves on to the A$6m G1 Melbourne Cup at Flemington, a race in which Appleby will run Qewy and Oceanographer, his G3 Lexus Stakes winner from last Saturday, as part of a five-horse Godolphin team.

While Qewy goes into the race off a two-week break, Appleby admits he is taking a step into the unknown by running Oceanographer in a two-mile race only three days after his previous run.

“It’s very alien what we’re doing, backing a horse up as quick as that over this trip,” Appleby said.

“I’ve never done it before, we’re really going into the unknown with him. But I can say that the horse is thriving.

“He’s eating well and he’s in a good frame of mind, there are no negatives.”

Oceanographer staged an epic performance to win the Lexus, coming from last to snatch victory in the 2500m race in the last couple of strides and making himself one of the top few prospects in the Melbourne Cup.

At his stable the next morning Oceanographer showed no signs of his exertions, looking fresh and bright as he went for a light jog.

“We like to keep them on the move, so he had a jog around this morning and he actually gave a buck and a kick as he came off the track.

“At the moment, it’s all systems go.”

Qewy also pleased his trainer in a workout on the training track on Sunday.

“I love Qewy,” Appleby said.

“He’s a horse who ran very well in festival races at Ascot and Goodwood and what he did at Geelong was a fabulous effort.

“On Tuesday it sounds like it’s going to be a genuine run two miles in the Cup and that’s going to suit him down to the ground.”

Godolphin has made 21 attempts to win the Melbourne Cup, finishing second three times and third once, and on Tuesday will have an unprecedented five runners with Beautiful Romance and Secret Number trained by Saeed bin Suroor and John O’Shea’s Hartnell added to Appleby’s pair.

Appleby acknowledged the importance to the stable of adding a first Melbourne Cup to the Godolphin trophy room.

“It’s a race that very owner would love to win. We want to win it, His Highness wants to win it,” he said.

“It’d be a huge feather in anyone’s cap.”

The trainer also confirmed on Sunday that his G1 Caulfield Cup runner-up Scottish would run in next Saturday’s G1 Emirates Stakes in which he will be ridden by William Buick.