Reigning Melbourne Cup-winning jockey James McDonald has committed to ride Loft on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington.
Sydney-based McDonald, 30, the world’s best jockey, dominated the Flemington carnival last year, riding 10 winners including four Group 1s.
Loft’s part-owner Aziz Kheir, who enjoyed success in the Cup last year with the champion Verry Elleegant, is thrilled about the McDonald coup.
“We were just waiting for the weights to come out,” Kheir said.
“I spoke to him (McDonald) last night, a very big coup for the group and happy to have him on board.
“I think he’s (Loft) a quality horse and the market reflects that… we went through it (Cup contenders) briefly with him, on my opinion on all the chances, and I think James agreed on my view of the chances.
“He probably had the choice of a few of the good ones so for him to pick our one, these guys (jockeys) know their form, someone like James gets to choose the best of the lot, so to pick Loft is great for our team.”
James McDonald has been booked to ride Loft in the Melbourne Cup. Picture: Getty Images
Loft is a $ 13 equal second favorite in TAB’s all-in Melbourne Cup market with Duais, behind only $ 8 top pick Deauville Legend.
Loft will carry 55.5kg in the Cup.
The Marcel Weiss-trained German import won the Group 2 Belmont Gold Cup (3200m) in New York last June.
He was runner-up in the Listed Chester Stakes (2896m) last month.
Kheir part-owns Cups contender Spanish Mission too.
The Melbourne businessman and partners bought Spanish Mission last year after the world class stayer placed third in the Cup behind Verry Elleegant and Incentivse.
“I think Spanish Mission is definitely the quality world class stayer and proven form,” Kheir said.
“If he brings back the world class form he’s had over the years I think he’s the one to beat, but he has to recapture that form, if he doesn’t I think Loft is right up there.”
Interpretation could be a third Cup starter for Kheir and partners should the imported stayer qualify through The Bart Cummings.