Once a familiar face at Flemington, Marcus O’Connor makes a return to headquarters for the first time in 18 years.
O’Connor, an accountant who trains a couple of horses as a hobby, will saddle Tom Raks in the Takeover Target Tribute Handicap (1100m) on Saturday.
In his previous working life, O’Connor was a travelling foreman for Lee Freedman and based at Flemington during the days of Super Impose, Tawrrific and Mahogany.
Tom Raks will be O’Connor’s first runner at Flemington, his first on a Saturday, and the first time he has taken a horse to Flemington since Doriemus ran behind Octagonal in the 1997 Australian Cup.
“I was a travelling foreman for the Freedmans and Anthony (Freedman) and I would do most of the travelling,” O’Connor said.
“We used to take horses to Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane but in the end I got sick of getting out of bed at 3.30 in the morning, so I went back and did my accounting degree.”
He now runs an accounting practice in rural Victoria and says training the odd horse keeps him “sane”.
“I know that sounds strange but it’s a different world to the accounting world,” he said.
“It’s just a bit of fun.”
O’Connor has a farm near Beechworth and takes his horses to Wangaratta to gallop. Tom Raks will be his 39th runner since he took out his licence around six years ago.
Although Tom Raks is a $41 outsider in Saturday’s race in which he’ll be ridden by in-form apprentice Jessica Payne O’Connor says the gelding will not disgrace himself.
He won first-up at Kilmore before running fourth at Mornington on June 8.
“He’s probably out of his depth but he’ll think it’s Christmas with no weight on his back,” O’Connor said.
“He’s a free-rolling horse and he does like to be up there.
“He’s matured not only physically, but in the brain as well and he’ll make a really nice, strong, five and six-year-old.”