Weather worries for Melbourne raiders

Connections of British raider Purple Moon are hoping the worst of the weather stays away ahead of Tuesday’s Emirates Melbourne Cup.

Connections of British raider Purple Moon are hoping the worst of the weather stays away ahead of Tuesday’s Emirates Melbourne Cup.

The Flemington track saw five millimetres of overnight rain on Thursday but course manager Terry Watson is expecting conditions to improve ahead of Saturday’s VRC Derby meeting.

However, more rain is predicted in Melbourne over the next three days, with Sunday’s forecast of heavy rain particularly bleak.

Purple Moon, who is the general 4-1 joint-favourite with Master O’Reilly, has shown his best form on a sound surface but Luca Cumani’s charge is unlikely to miss out due to the ground.

“We wouldn’t want too much more rain,” Cumani’s daughter Francesca told PA Sport.

“(But) I don’t think we’ve come all this way to be scared off by some rain.”

Fellow British runner Tungsten Strike is another who would prefer quicker ground but Mark Perrett, husband of trainer Amanda, admits only injury would stop the seven-year-old running.

“He’s not as good as he is on the fast ground. He really bounces off the firm ground,” Perrett said.

“He’d have to be on three legs to scratch him. As long as nothing happens to the horse, you don’t travel three-quarters around the world to scratch him because of the ground.”

Aidan O’Brien’s St Leger runner-up Mahler would be “ideally suited by good ground or better”, according to Coolmore Stud spokesman James Bester.

“But that’s not to say he won’t handle dead or slow going,” Bester said.

“He did to some extent do that and won well at Ascot but it’s not ideal.

“It wouldn’t be a disaster if it was dead or on the better side of slow but we won’t really know until the day.”

There are 21 Melbourne Cup hopefuls engaged in Saturday’s meeting at Flemington, including Douro Valley and Princess Coup who finished second and third behind Master O’Reilly in the Caulfield Cup.

Jockey James Winks has doubts whether Douro Valley, who is running in the weight-for-age Mackinnon Stakes over 10 furlongs, would run a strong two miles.

“I just felt in my mind towards the end of the Caulfield Cup he was sort of feeling it, whereas Master O’Reilly was running away from him,” he said.

“For me to turn the tables on Master O’Reilly I would have to improve a little bit and ride him a little bit different.”

Maybe Better finished third in the Melbourne Cup last year but big-race pilot Corey Brown knows he will need to improve on his ninth in the Caulfield Cup, during which he sustained a minor injury.

“He’s definitely got the ability the horse, and his joints are right,” he said.

“The track won’t be too hard for him and he’ll be attacking the line like he normally does.”

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