Allen Leech in a scene from the TV series Downton Abbey. Supplied by Channel 7.
Allen Leech in a scene from the TV series Downton Abbey. Supplied by Channel 7.

Downton Abbey star Down Under for Melbourne Cup coverage

IT WOULD be rude not to have a flutter on Melbourne Cup Day, says Downton Abbey star Allen Leech.

The Irish actor is in Melbourne today as a special guest of Channel 7, which airs the hit British costume drama.

"It would be rude to come all this way and not have a gamble," Leech told APN.

"There are a couple of horses I have my eye on."

Leech said he is enjoying the celebratory atmosphere in Melbourne ahead of the "race that stops the nation".

"I love Melbourne; it has a really good vibe," he said.

"It's quite an Irish attitude, taking a Tuesday off. You know, all of a sudden it becomes a week off (laughs)."

Leech certainly appears to know his horses. The actor is staying loyal to his Irish roots with plans to back Irish trainer Willie Mullins' Simenon and his Irish jockey Richard Hughes.

"I've been brought up with racing," he said.

"The Melbourne Cup was always spoken about in my house and we used to watch it on TV, so the opportunity to come down here is really, really special."

Leech plays chauffer turned Downton Abbey estate manager Tom Branson on the show, which averages more than 11 million viewers in the UK.

Downton Abbey returns for its fourth season on Australian TV screens early next year.

It follows the shock death of central character Matthew Crawley in season three's Christmas special.

"A couple of Christmases got ruined, let's be honest," he said.

"It was great going back (to film season four). It's a show I love doing obviously.

"All the cast, we've been on this journey together and watched it evolve and become a show everyone loves."