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Sheikh aims for elusive Melbourne Cup win

John Ferguson doesn’t mind which of Godolphin’s five horses finally delivers an elusive Melbourne Cup for Sheikh Mohammed.

The Godolphin chief executive wants this to be the year the Dubai ruler wins, after two decades of trying.

“At the end of the day, I don’t mind who wins,” he said.

“All I care about is that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, who has put so much into the world of horse racing and has committed so much time, energy and finance into creating this global team, I personally and all the team would just love to do it for him.”

Whether it is Australian trainer John O’Shea (favourite Hartnell), English trainer Charlie Appleby (Oceanographer and Qewy) or Godolphin’s longest-serving trainer Saeed bin Suroor (Beautiful Romance and Secret Number), who wins the $6.2 million race doesn’t matter.

“Sure they’d like to win for themselves but also at the end of the day it’s the team, team Godolphin, and they all appreciate what Sheikh Mohammed has done,” Ferguson said.

O’Shea said it would be a tremendous honour to win a Melbourne Cup for Sheikh Mohammed, whose horses have come second three times and third once.

But he is not letting himself even consider winning, despite having the favourite.

“It’s something you dare to dream about to be honest,” O’Shea said on Monday.

“I come from a small town in north Queensland. To even have a runner is frightening let alone to even give consideration to winning it.”

While Sheikh Mohammed covets his first Cup, retired Australian businessman Lloyd Williams is attempting to win a record fifth.

The 76-year-old has four contenders: Assign, Gallante, Almandin and Bondi Beach, which he owns in partnership with thoroughbred racing and breeding operation Coolmore.

“I’m as happy as you can be going into the Melbourne Cup,” Williams told RSN927 radio.

“It’s a very hard race to win. It’s such an iconic race.”

Lee Freedman, who has Our Ivanhowe and Exospheric as he attempts to win a sixth Melbourne Cup, said having the right horse was the key.

“You have to have a strong stayer and you have to get luck in the race too, which we have had several times.”

And the attraction of Australia’s richest race?

“It’s good money,” Freeman quipped.

“Being serious, when I started training I didn’t really imagine that I would win Melbourne Cups. It was just kind of a fun thing.

“It’s Australia’s greatest race and it’s our calling card overseas as well.”

Ciaron Maher is trying to get the Caulfield Cup-Melbourne Cup double with second favourite Jameka, the only Australian-bred horse in the 24-horse field.

“It’s very exciting and hopefully she can do it,” he said.

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