Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - RAY THOMAS

IS Sheikh Mo­hammed’s Godol­phin sta­ble about to win that elu­sive Mel­bourne Cup?

Af­ter nearly 20 years of frus­tra­tion and near misses, the fa­mous “Royal Blue Army” may never get a bet­ter chance af­ter qual­i­fy­ing its fifth run­ner when Oceanog­ra­pher stormed home in the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flem­ing­ton yes­ter­day.

Oceanog­ra­pher needed to win the Lexus to se­cure a Cup start and joins Hart­nell, Qewy, Beau­ti­ful Ro­mance and Se­cret Num­ber in Tues­day’s $6.2 mil­lion race. Rac­ing Vic­to­ria chief hand­i­cap­per Greg Carpen­ter is­sued Oceanog­ra­pher a 1kg penalty which takes the stayer’s Mel­bourne Cup weight to 52kg,

English trainer Char­lie Ap­pleby al­ready had Gee­long Cup win­ner Qewy safely in the Mel­bourne Cup field and Oceanog­ra­pher now joins his sta­ble­mate in the big race.

“It was a fan­tas­tic run,’’ Ap­pleby said. “The boys have done a great job fresh­en­ing the horse up af­ter he ran third in the Gee­long Cup.

“He will back up for sure on Tues­day. Can he win it? I don’t know, but he is a very fit horse. I was sur­prised how well he came out of Gee­long. When I came back to Mel­bourne and went out to see him at Wer­ribee (Fri­day morn­ing) he was buck­ing and kick­ing, he was feel­ing so well. A bit of sun­shine on his back will do him the world of good and he will run well on Tues­day.’’

Oceanog­ra­pher ($2.70 favourite) was rid­den pa­tiently by Ker­rin McEvoy, com­ing from last on the turn to swamp leader Tom Mel­bourne ($4.40) to win by a long neck with an­other Godol­phin run­ner, Tally ($11) three lengths away third. It was a stun­ning per­for­mance by Oceanog­ra­pher as em­pha­sised by a sec­tional break­down of the race. He ran his last 400m in 22.45sec in­clud­ing a fi­nal 200m sec­tional of a stun­ning 11.41sec.

Tom Mel­bourne wasn’t stop­ping ei­ther. He was brave in de­feat, com­ing home his fi­nal 400m in 23.32sec and he ran 11.99sec for the fi­nal 200m.

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