By any standards, English trainer Brian Ellison has endured shocking luck with his horses in Australia.
But on Saturday at Caulfield he will put all that as far behind him as possible when he begins a new assault on Melbourne’s rich spring races.
Ellison has accepted with Moyenne Corniche and Saptapadi in the Group Two Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) in a bid to make a Caulfield Cup start certain for both horses – and he’s confident both of them are up to the task.
“I’d rather not run at all and keep them both fresh for the Caulfield Cup,” Ellison said.
“But they are both well and there’s a chance they are too low on the list to be sure of a run, so they may as well go around.”
Ellison has a good idea of what it takes to win a Caulfield Cup having come within four lengths of success in 2005 with his runner Carte Diamond.
The run made Carte Diamond one of the better fancies for the Melbourne Cup but a week before the race near tragedy struck when the gelding dropped his jockey in a track gallop at Flemington and ran through a fence, suffering what appeared to be a couple of nasty cuts.
It wasn’t realised at the time but the cuts were caused by a 60cm metal spike used for anchoring the fence to the ground that had run through the inside of a back leg and come out beside his tail.
Carte Diamond spent six months recuperating in Victoria only to suffer laminitis that turned his feet to mush and then he ran through a paddock fence and ran a piece of wood into his chest.
With that experience behind him Ellison returned with another horse, Bay Story, in 2007.
This time he made it to Cup day, albeit in a supporting race, and Bay Story turned into the Flemington straight three lengths clear and looking like a winner – until a front leg snapped.
The horse had to be put down and his rider Mark Zahra broke his ankle.
Zahra will team up again with Ellison at Caulfield on Moyenne Corniche with Kerrin McEvoy to ride Saptapadi.
Both horses worked strongly at the Werribee quarantine centre on Wednesday with Saptapadi shading his stablemate at the end of a 1600m gallop.
Ellison warned that Moyenne Corniche, however, can be a lazy trackworker who reserves his best for race day.
Moyenne Corniche took out one of Britain’s best handicaps, the Ebor (2800m) at York in August with the better-fancied Saptapadi not far away in fifth place.
The English-trained 2008 Melbourne Cup runner-up Bauer is also an acceptor in the Herbert Power with his stablemate Sahara Sun and the Hong Kong galloper Mighty High to run in the weight-for-age Caulfield Stakes (2000m).