I’ve had quite a few runners over the last few years without a lot of success. Frustrating. It means each year I come back a little more hungry than the year before.
It is so hard to win. I have learned victory often comes because of years of work with different horses, until you find the one.
Most importantly you need the right horse. Then the right preparation. Getting to two miles with a fit, sound horse is an achievement in itself.
Our three chances have that behind them. Now we need them to run at their peak on the day, and get the breaks at the right time.
Who Shot Thebarman lines up again. It is his fourth Cup appearance and at 10 he is the old man river of our stable.
Horses start their training when they are two and maybe even before that. He has been racing twice or three-time as long as some his rivals on Tuesday have been alive.
Realistically, winning as 10-year-old would be incredible – beyond belief, really – but if he could run in the top 12, which is in the prizemoney, I’ll be happy.
He has been in the stable a such long time that my stable staff love him. He would be up there with the favourites of all time. He probably gets just as much respect in the stable as Winx, and certainly as much attention.
First and foremost, we wanted to see him preparing well for the race. We weren’t just going to start him. He was a much better chance in the Moonee Valley Cup 10 days ago when he ran fourth.
He has been nice and bright in his trackwork in the past few days and we know as a Sydney Cup winner this year and a Melbourne Cup placegetter he will be there at the end of the two-mile distance, which will bring a lot of these horses unstuck.
He is the horse that has taught me about this race. Thinking about the Barman, I think back to what we could have done better and maybe how we could have got him to perform better in previous years.
You need to learn about this race to win it. We are always looking for the right horse in Europe, and Finche is one we have chosen to invest in this year.
He raced in the colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah, which might be familiar to people. They have been carried to glory around the world by horses like Frankel, which is Finche’s dad, Arrogate and Enable, which has won two Arc de Triomphes and the Breeders Cup on the weekend.
This is the first horse he has raced in Australia, so it is great to get him to Australian shores. He wanted to win the Cup – that is the recognition I talked about. He retains half the ownership of this horse, with some of our loyal stable clients taking the other half.
The Melbourne Cup is the race that people want to be part of as much as they want to win. So when the right chance comes along, it is easy to find people who want to share in the experience. This syndicate has lucky owners from Winx and Black Caviar as well.
Finche arrived here at the beginning of the spring and he has had the benefit of an Australian start in the Geelong Cup. It might have looked a bit plain but I can assure you he will improve up to the two-mile distance.
I love the way his coat has improved in past fortnight, as have his fitness levels. Who knows, his name could be on the front pages of Wednesday’s papers.
Finally we get to Youngstar, which carries the flag for Australia having been bred here and done all her racing here. My biggest concern with her is that she has only been racing for a little over six months.
The tough two-miler at Flemington requires a mature stayer. She is a four-year-old mare but when I look at her, I see her a younger filly that needs to furnish more and become stronger.
But Winx was like her when she won her first Cox Plate at the same age. I’m certain she will stay and with Craig Williams able to ride the weight of 51.5 kilos comfortably, she will race a big race.
She was never able to get into the Caulfield Cup because she was back in the field and they went so slow, but her closing sectionals were as good as any. Before that, she gave me and Winx a scare in the Turnbull Stakes.
She was bought for a race like this. I can’t really split her and Finche as my better chances.
But if I was sentimental, the Barman capping his career by storming to victory, as unrealistic as that is, would make be so proud.