A win in Europe’s richest handicap and the temptation to have a crack at the prize money on offer in Australia’s most famous race has led Scottish trainer Iain Jardine and the horse Nakeeta to Melbourne.
Jardine will saddle up Nakeeta at Flemington on Tuesday, trying to become the first Scottish-trained winner of the Melbourne Cup at the first attempt.
Jardine said Nakeeta’s win in The Ebor (2787m) at York in August, the same race 2016 Melbourne Cup runner-up Heartbreak City won in his lead-up, brought the trip to Australia into focus for the $6 million race.
“After he won the Ebor we had a look in the program book and we were really tempted by the prize money and we thought the race would be run to suit us,” Jardine said.
“So here we are.
“There was a lot to look into, but we’re here and we’ve been welcomed by all the Aussies and it’s great to be part of it all.”
Jardine says Nakeeta is in good shape building up to the Cup and is hopeful he has the qualities needed to snare the 3200m-handicap.
“He’s got a bit of speed. He’s tough. He can hold his position and he stays well,” Jardine said.
“So I think they’re a few good things that he’ll need for this.”
To be ridden by Glyn Schofield, Nakeeta will start from barrier 19 but Jardine is looking on the positive side.
“I suppose it’s not ideal but it could have been worse,” he said.
“We’ll just have to overcome it.
“His style of racing, taking our time early on, it’s not a disaster.
“We’ll take our time without giving him too much to do and ride him for a big finish.”
Jardine, who attended Victoria Derby day on Saturday at Flemington and the Melbourne Cup barrier draw after the meeting, has been surprised by the attention and exposure associated with the Cup.
“It’s absolutely brilliant to be part of it and fingers crossed we can take the Cup home to Scotland,” he said.
“It won’t be easy but we’re here with every chance.”