British horse Best Solution is given an early morning run at the Werribee racecourse on the outskirts of Melbourne on November 5, 2018, ahead of the Melbourne Cup. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Godolphin’s Best Solution leads a hungry pack of four horses with a Dubai connection in Tuesday’s 138th running of the Australian $7.3 million Melbourne Cup (Group 1), one of the world’s most iconic flat races.

Trained in the UK by Saeed Bin Surour, Best Solution goes into the 3,200-metre contest as one of the quartet’s best hopes, having proved himself a serious challenger when recording a tough victory in the Caulfield Cup (G1), on his most recent start on October 20.

$7.3m
is the prize money for today’s Melbourne Cup

He is joined by fellow Godolphin hopes Cross Counter — who is trained by red-hot handler Charlie Appleby at Moulton Paddocks in Newmarket, England — and the Australia-trained Avilius, who represents James Cumming.

Godolphin, the stable created by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, have won most of the major races around the world with the exception of the Melbourne Cup, although Bin Surour has come close on three occasions with Central Park (in 1998), Give The Slip (2001) and Crime Scene (2009), who have all finished second.

Joining the Godolphin runners is Muntahaa, who will bid to give Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, a second success in the historic contests after Jeune triumphed in 1994.

24
horses will line up to contest the 138th running of the race

Prepared by the master craftsman John Gosden in England, Muntahaa could be a major player should he reproduce his Ebor handicap effort at York in August where he shoulder a big weight to defeat some of the country’s best stayers.

The Dubai foursome face 22 rivals headed by Irish-trained 9/2 favourite Yucatan, to be partnered by Kiwi jockey James McDonald for record-breaking Irish handler Aidan O’Brien.

But Yucatan’s challengers can take heart from a piece of trivia as history shows that only eight favourites have won the race in the last 30 years.

Best Solution is a best priced 10/1 with British bookmakers and Bin Surour is optimistic of a big run from his globetrotting star who has posted impressive victories in Dubai, England, Germany and Australia.

8
favourites have won the Cup in the last 30 years

“He’s a horse you really get to like a lot because he gives one hundred per cent in his races,” Bin Surour told Gulf News. “He’s gritty and goes about his job in a very businesslike fashion.

“I believe he’s still improving and goes into the Melbourne Cup in his best physical condition. Weather he’s good enough to win this race, which I think is one of the toughest in the world, we will see on Tuesday.

“The Melbourne Cup is one of the races that Shaikh Mohammad has always wanted to win, and that’s why we come back to Australia, each year. To win it for Shaikh Mohammad would be the happiest day in my life and also add another glorious chapter to the history of the Godolphin stable.”

Appleby, who gave Godolphin a first Epsom Derby in their famous Royal Blue colours with Masar is also hopeful of Cross Counter’s chances.

“He’s a horse who is on an upward path ... he’s been coming along nicely in Melbourne,

22
starts for Best Solution with 9 wins and 2 seconds

“We’ve had plenty of success in Australia and it’s been a great year at home and abroad for Shaikh Mohammad and our team.

“To win the Melbourne Cup would be a fantastic feat for the entire organisation.”

Avilius, formerly trained for Godolphin in France by Andre Fabre, but now racing out of James Cummings stables, completes the Godolphin trio.

“I know he’s ready for two miles now and he’s going to Flemington rather than Moonee Valley where he wasn’t completely comfortable,” Cummings Jnr said on the Godolphin website.

Melbourne Cup (Group 1)
At Flemington, Australia

Latest Odds: 9/2 Yucatan, 7/1 Magic Circle, 8/1 Best Solution, Cross Counter, Muntahaa, 9/1 The Cliffsofmoher, 10/1 Avilius, 12/1 Marmelo, Youngstar, 16/1 A Prince Of Arran, Finche, Rostropovich, Sound Check, Ventura Storm, 28/1 Runaway, 33/1 Chestnut Coat, Vengeur Masque, 40/1 Ace High, Red Cardinal, 50/1 Auvray, Nakeeta, Who Shot Thebarman, 66/1 Sir Charles Road, 100/1 Zacada.