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Melbourne excitement building for Middleham Park team.

Byline: Jack Haynes in Melbourne

TEN owners plus travelling companions ensure a group of 28 connections are making the trip of a lifetime to Melbourne for Australia's most famous race on Tuesday.

Ebor fourth Raymond Tusk is guaranteed a start in the A$8m (PS4.3m/€4.8m) showpiece after the third acceptances were confirmed on Monday, breaking new ground for Middleham Park Racing by becoming the syndicate's first runner in Australia.

Raymond Tusk was beaten two lengths by the reopposing Mustajeer in the big York handicap in August - and the excitement is building for Middleham Park, which owns Raymond Tusk along with Kulbir Sohi, as evidenced by a Facebook group set up for the travelling contingent.

Syndicate manager Tim Palin said: "For ten or 15 years our owners have been saying it would be a privilege to have a runner in the Melbourne Cup. It's a culmination of 15 years of dreaming!

"We have a Facebook messenger group going and it keeps pinging every 30 minutes in the excitement of it all."

A Group 2 winner in Italy last year, Raymond Tusk was entered in the Caulfield Cup but missed that engagement to arrive fresh for the Lexus-sponsored Melbourne Cup. It is a decision that has paid off with the four-year-old sitting in 21st spot in the order of entry for the race that has a maximum field of 24.

Raymond Tusk is a best price 20-1 shot with bet365 and Palin believes he has plenty in his favour. He said: "We keep getting updates sent through and he looks a million dollars.

"He's best fresh so we favoured going straight to the Melbourne Cup rather than the Caulfield Cup.

"The Melbourne Cup ticks every box for him - his weight, the distance, likely good going and the form he brings is all in his favour. I don't think there's a question mark over him."

Jamie Spencer partnered Raymond Tusk in a swinging canter over a mile with Marmelo at Werribee yesterday morning and feels his Melbourne Cup mount is in fine order.

He said: "He's in good shape and I wish the race was tomorrow."

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Jack Haynes in Melbourne
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Oct 30, 2019
Words:357
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