Ruby Walsh: Wicklow will be Brave in the Melbourne Cup but Bondi Beach could have the edge

The jet-setting, globe-trotting national hunt jock marks your card for the Flemington showpiece

Ruby Walsh

Willie Mullins went very close with Max Dynamite last year and we’re hoping that Wicklow Brave can be in the money at least for the race that stops a nation in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

I was at the Melbourne Cup for just the second time in my life 12 months ago and it’s a fantastic occasion and lives up to its star billing – really well run, a huge crowd and a great festival occasion. A top day out.

Wicklow Brave is in Australia a while now and is in really good form according to David Casey. Whether his penalty for winning the Irish St Leger will that be the difference between winning and being placed in a Melbourne Cup, we’ll have to wait and see. Frankie Dettori teams up with again like he did at the Curragh and he’ll be hoping to break his Melbourne Cup duck at the 15th attempt after Max Dynamite went so close last year.

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I was talking to Irish trainer Tony Martin last week and he’s really happy with his Ebor winner Heartbreak City. He’s a nice low weight on his back and handles the ground. Japan’s champion jockey Joao Moreira is booked.

Michael Bell’s Big Orange shoulders top weight and while he did beat Wicklow Brave by just over three lengths at Goodwood earlier this year, we get a couple pounds off him in the early hours of November 01. But he has the advantage of finishing fifth in this race last year.

Aidan O’Brien’s Bondi Beach was only a three-year-old when finding the Melbourne Cup a bit much 12 months ago, coming home in 16th.

Bondi Beach has more weight to carry this time but on the plus side that means that Ryan Moore will be able do the steering. The Ballydoyle runner is rated a couple pounds higher than Wicklow Brave by the Irish handicapper, but they race off level weights here. He’s still only a four-year-old and could be unexposed over the two-mile trip.  And Aidan has been mopping up the big races all season.

I’m not well enough up on the Australian form to know how strong the home challenge is but the John O’Shea-trained Hartnell (formerly trained by Mark Johnston in the UK) finished behind Bondi Beach last year and is now among the favourites for Tuesday’s contest. He looks to have improved and his second to wonder horse Winx in the Cox Plate over 10 furlongs last time out could be very good form.

Jameka won the Caulfield Cup earlier this month over a mile and a half with Charlie Appleby’s Scottish a three-length second. Appleby’s had a few winners Down Under recently and with a maximum field of 24 runners likely to line up, he’ll be another of the European trainers who’ll hope to go close in the white heat of a Melbourne Cup.

What do you think?