Ryan will make his debut in the Melbourne Cup later this month and he's delighted to be on board Luca Cumani's Mount Athos for his first tilt at the big one
"Luca knows what it takes to prepare a horse for this race, and Mount Athos comes here with excellent credentials after showing himself a much improved horse after joining his stable at the start of the season, with this race very much in mind."
I am having my first ride in the Melbourne Cup this year, but that doesn't trouble me at all. I know what I have to do and in Mount Athos, I have a horse that I wouldn't swap for any other.
He stays well, as a Chester Cup (2m1f) fourth and a Cesarewitch (2m2f) fifth underlines, but to win this race you need a horse with a turn of foot. And Mount Athos certainly has that.
Luca knows what it takes to prepare a horse for this race, and Mount Athos comes here with excellent credentials after showing himself a much improved horse after joining his stable at the start of the season, with this race very much in mind.
He was very impressive in winning at York two starts ago, travelling well and quickening up like a good horse, and then took the step up to Group company in his stride when winning at Newbury last time. That was the first time I rode him and I was suitably impressed. Now, the form of that race hasn't worked out at all well but he won it with ease and gave me the feel of a high-class horse.
The draw in eight is fine, and I have a good racing weight. As a well-handicapped, improving horse, proven on good and fast ground, I have every right to be hopeful.
But this is undoubtedly one of the best Melbourne Cups I have seen in a long time, and the European horses look set to dominate.
Dunaden will have to be some horse to win this off this weight, and I personally would have my doubts.
However, that said, you cannot deny how impressive he was when coming from off the pace to win the Caulfield Cup a bit snugly. And, if connections are correct and he was only 80 per cent ready there, then perhaps we will see a ground-breaking, weight carrying performance here.
It could be that he posted a career-best effort here last time and loves it in Australia, having obviously won the Geelong Cup and this race last season. He is clearly a great traveller.
But he didn't cut it at a similar level in Europe this season, and if you fancy him, then you have to fancy Red Cadeaux on the revised weight terms from last year.
I know Red Cadeaux well, having ridden him to finish a 1½ length third to Dunaden in the Hong Kong Vase and also twice this season, notably when second to St Nicholas Abbey in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom in June. On that evidence he is probably a marginally improved performer in Europe this season, and everyone saw what a near-miss he had in this race last year.
He must go well.
Other horses I know well are Jakkalberry and Fiorente. The former has a definite chance on his third for me in the Sheema Classic earlier in the season but he needs to step up a good deal on his Caulfield Cup run. But he is entitled to, and won the American St Leger this season too. But I just wonder whether a strongly-run 2m race will find him out at this level of competition.
I won on Fiorente at Newmarket earlier in the season, and that was smart form with Joshua Tree in second, and I would ignore his run last time, as it was a farce of a race in that it was very slowly run. You have to respect new connections but his stamina is a big question mark in what is sure to be a searching gallop.
I was slightly surprised to see Americain as the 6.411/2 clear favourite on Betfair for this race, so I went back and had a look at his fourth in the Caulfield and I understood it better. He went wide there and didn't get the best of runs. His trainer would have left a fair bit to work on there, and he will clearly be primed for this, a race he won in 2010 and fourth last year.
As we saw at the Breeders' Cup, it is folly to underestimate the home team on their own patch. But I am struggling to make a convincing case for many of them, especially as the Europeans mount such a strong challenge.
And when you talk of Europeans in this race, you think of Dermot Weld, of Media Puzzle and Vintage Crop fame.
Dermot must be given the utmost respect on his travels - even if his runner in the Breeders' Cup Marathon finished tailed off on Friday - and we saw with Rite Of Passage's win in the Long Distance race at Champions' Day at Ascot that he isn't too bad on home soil either.
Galileos Choice may be the best of the 20-1+ outsiders in this race.
This horse was actually running over hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but he produced Rite Of Passage win the Ascot Gold Cup in 2010 on his next start after running there, so don't let that put you off.
And he has looked an improved horse in two Leopardstown wins subsequently, and he looks to have the right profile for this race.
He could be an outsider to focus on, but like I said I wouldn't swap my horse for any other.
Let's hope my first visit here is a winning one.