The Sportsman Special Issue - - Melbourne Cup 2018 - CARYL WIL­LIAMSON

RACE favourite Yu­catan has eased slightly in Mel­bourne Cup mar­kets af­ter draw­ing bar­rier 23 in the 24-horse field.

The Ai­dan O’Brien-trained Yu­catan, who is owned by the Wil­liams fam­ily, is now at $4.50 af­ter be­ing as short as $4.20.

Nick Wil­liams, son of six-time win­ning owner Lloyd Wil­liams, se­lected the bar­rier but said he was un­con­cerned.

“I must say I’m of the view that bar­ri­ers don’t mat­ter in this race,” Wil­liams said.

“You’ve got five fur­longs (1000m) be­fore you have to turn. They sort them­selves out by the time they get there.

“It is what it is, there’s no point wor­ry­ing about it.”

Magic Cir­cle is the sec­ond pick and the only other run­ner un­der dou­ble fig­ures at $9 and will jump from bar­rier 17, but his flam­boy­ant owner Dr Mar­wan Koukash re­mains up­beat.

“We are not the quick­est away any­way and I would have been wor­ried with a low draw be­cause we would have been shuf­fled right to the back,” he said.

“At least from where we are we have other op­tions, so I’m quite happy. I’m not dis­ap­pointed.”

The two are among 11 in­ter­na­tion­ally trained horses in Tues­day’s Cup with O’Brien’s other two run­ners, The Cliffsofmoher and Rostropovich to jump from nine and 21 re­spec­tively.

Avil­ius, who rep­re­sents trainer James Cum­mings, will jump from gate 11 af­ter qual­i­fy­ing for the Cup via The Bart Cum­mings, named for the 12-time Mel­bourne Cup win­ning grand­fa­ther of James.

Auvray, a $61 chance trained by Richard Freed­man, has bar­rier one, some­thing his trainer says could be to his ad­van­tage.

“He’ll prob­a­bly think he’s on the out­side be­cause he hasn’t been in this di­rec­tion for some time,” Freed­man said.

Syd­ney Cup run­ner-up Zacada is at the other end of the bar­rier spec­trum, with his part-owner Sir Patrick Ho­gan, se­lect­ing 24.

Ven­tura Storm rep­re­sents Lind­say Park with se­nior trainer David Hayes happy with bar­rier seven and con­fi­dent he can run bet­ter than his $26 sug­gests.

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