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Melbourne Cup hopeful misses out on back-to-back French G2 wins

Last year's second placed Melbourne Cup horse Marmelo narrowly missed out on recording a second consecutive win in the Group II Prix Maurice de Nieuil at Longchamp overnight
Marmelo (pictured) is hoping to go one better in 2019 after finishing second to Cross Counter in last year's Melbourne Cup
2018 Melbourne Cup runner up Marmelo narrowly missed out on recording back-to-back wins in the Group Two Prix Maurice de Nieuil in Longchamp overnight.

A strong $2.20 favourite with the online bookmakers to defend his crown, Marmelo loomed up ominously to the leader Way To Paris as they paired off in the final 100m but the Hughie Morrison-trained six-year-old couldn't bridge the gap in time, going down by a nose.

The trainer lodged a protest for alleged interference at the 200m mark when Way To Paris bumped Marmelo to find a path through but they failed to have the final result overturned.

The trainer told UK Racing TV that he was disappointed in the steward's findings.

“We didn’t get it. Ryan came in, and the first thing he said was he got a bump just after turning in – and it cost him the race,” Morrison said

“We’ve lost so narrowly, and he lost all momentum – it definitely cost him the race. They didn’t say why we hadn’t got it.

“It’s very disappointing. It cost us a critical stride – c’est la vie.”

The defeat saw Marmelo moved out fractionally in Melbourne Cup betting markets. 

The six-year-old stallion is now at the $26 mark with online bookmaker Ladbrokes.

While there's no confirmation Marmelo will attempt to win the race that stops a nation for a third time in 2019, Morrison mooted a potential trip down under last month at a Melbourne Cup function in London.

“After our hugely exciting race last year, we feel there is a very good reason to go back. It is one of the biggest races in the world and it would be a real achievement if I could win it."

Morrison believes with a better preparation he could potentially go one better than last year's second placed finish to Godolphin-owned Cross Counter.

“I think we didn’t ride him quite right at Epsom in the Coronation Cup last time. We hadn’t run him there the year before as we didn’t think he would like the course and he didn’t, and I don’t think he had a particularly hard race.

“He wasn’t beaten that far at Epsom and he didn’t disgrace himself. He is in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and we are hoping for some soft ground.

“I think that is his most likely option and it might have thinned out a bit with the combination of the Prince of Wales’ and the Hardwicke this week.

“He could then go to the Kergorlay or the Irish St Leger, then I would like to think we will be off to Australia.”

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