Bunbury jockey Damian Lane is set to ride in his third straight Melbourne Cup on Tuesday with the successful young rider booked aboard last year’s third place finisher Hartnell.
Hartnell, a seven-year-old bay gelding from Great Britain, appeared likely to miss this year’s 3,200 metre feature race in favour of the Emirates Stakes but early in the week Godolphin founder Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his Australian trainer James Cummings confirmed their horse would start in The Cup.
LISTEN: Trainer James Cummings talking about Hartnell’s preparation.
Lane had spent the Spring carnival preparing for a Cup day ride aboard Humidor but a short riding suspension saw Blake Shinn take Humidor’s reins against Winx in the Cox Plate.
An impressive effort to finish less than one length second encouraged connections of Humidor to keep Shinn aboard for ‘the race that stops a nation’, leaving Lane an opportunity to jump aboard Hartnell.
Hartnell looks set to carry the number one as the race’s top weight, lugging 57.5 kilograms across the two-mile journey – 1.5 kilograms more than he carried in last year’s race.
Bookmakers currently have Hartnell, a dual group one winner, installed as a $25 chance for The Cup.
The final Melbourne Cup field and barrier draw will be confirmed on Saturday.