It’s not uncommon for horses from the eastern states to head north for the Darwin Cup carnival.
What is not so common is finding horses doing the reverse.
Darwin trainer Chris Nash sent Design For Life on the four-day trek from Darwin to the Melbourne stable of Stephen Brown three weeks ago.
Design For Life is an acceptor in races over 1600m at Sandown on Friday and Moonee Valley on Saturday with Mark Pegus booked to ride in whichever event Nash decides to contest.
The 25-year-old Nash has held a trainer’s licence for six years and has half a dozen horses in work, doubling as the Darwin foreman for Brown, after beginning his career in Adelaide with Phillip Stokes.
The original plan was for Design For Life to run at Flemington last Saturday, but the race Nash picked out was brought forward a week to accommodate the reshuffle of programs with the straight track out of action.
Nash said missing that race was not the end of the world and he was hopeful the gelding could win in Melbourne to get his rating up.
The gelding was bought out of Robert Smerdon’s Caulfield stable as a potential Darwin Cup horse in 2013 but broke down three weeks after arriving in the Northern Territory and returned to Melbourne for surgery.
He recovered and Nash hoped he would be a player in the recent Darwin carnival but he failed to gain a start in the Cup despite being in top form.
“If we can get his rating up then we should be right to target the Cup with him next year,” Nash said.
“I would love to see him win and then I’d be able to give him a break before going back to Darwin.”
Nash said because of the draw at Sandown – barrier 16 in a field of 20 – he was leaning towards the Moonee Valley race, although he will monitor scratchings at Sandown before making a final decision.