Wicklow Brave during trackwork at Werribee ahead of the Melbourne Cup.
Wicklow Brave during trackwork at Werribee ahead of the Melbourne Cup. TRACEY NEARMY

Brave to bet against Irish star

HEARTBREAK City trainer Tony Martin can't speak highly enough of his Irish counterpart Willie Mullins.

And that's why he's tipping Mullins' charge, Wicklow Brave, as the dark horse in tomorrow's Melbourne Cup at Flemington.

"I like him. His form is in the book. It's there. It's very good,” Martin said at yesterday's international breakfast at Werribee.

"The man who trains him is one of the two best trainers in the world - Willie Mullins and Aidan O'Brien. Whatever Willie does with them, he's a genius.”

Mullins went close to producing a Melbourne Cup winner last year when Max Dynamite ran second behind Prince Of Penzance. His only other two runners have been Holy Orders (which was 17th in 2003) and Simenon (fifth in 2013).

Martin, however, believed that his record worldwide meant Mullins was a bigger "legend” than Dermott Weld, who has two Melbourne Cup wins to his name - with Vintage Crop (1993) and Media Puzzle (2002).

"Dermot Weld is a very good trainer, a brilliant performer, but this man has surpassed that. He's a legend like Vincent O'Brien,” Martin said.

"Everything Willie runs in a big race you just have to respect, and he's coming here with the right credentials.”

With the great Frankie Dettori in the saddle, Wicklow Brave, who switched from jumps to flat racing last year, was $16 with betting markets yesterday.

"He won an Irish St Leger ... but his runs prior to that I think were excellent,” Martin said. "I saw him here the other morning ... He looks absolutely wonderful.”

Martin's own Heartbreak City ($13) also looks well poised after claiming the Ebor, Europe's richest flat handicap, at York in August.

To be ridden by Joao Moreira, it would be a special win if the horse got up after its owner, George Swan, died a year ago from cancer.

"I'd really love him to win for the man above,” Martin said.