Affable Italian trainer Marco Botti emerged from the shadow of his compatriot and former boss Luca Cumani some time ago. The next question is, will he surpass the veteran horseman’s achievements?
Botti, who will contest Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup with his low-profile stayer Jakkalberry, is part of the new guard of young Newmarket trainers seeking to wrest control on international racing’s elite circuit.
But it is not just Cumani whose presence looms over him. An even larger one is that of his famous father Alduino who has dominated Italy’s trainers’ title for three decades.
Stints with Cumani, Sheikh Mohammed’s giant Godolphin operation and leading British trainer Ed Dunlop gave Marco the grounding and ultimately the courage to break out on his own.
He now controls a growing base at Newmarket with around 80 horses in work. It is a business which has expanded from a dozen Italian owners when he began in 2006 to include some of the world’s wealthiest people.
And Botti’s decision to remain in England has proved fortuitous with the Italian racing industry hard-hit by a shambolic economy and owners difficult to find.
In six years Botti has won 250 races in Europe, the US and Dubai, including the 2009 Goodwood Handicap at Santa Anita with Gitano Hernando and the 2011 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp with Excelebration.
Last month he took out the Canadian International with Joshua Tree at Woodbine, shortly before Jakkalberry was due to start in the Caulfield Cup.
That is a race Botti prefers to forget. Following his last-start win in the St Leger at Arlington, Jakkalberry struggled home 13th of 18 at Caulfield.
“Everything that could have gone wrong in the Caulfield Cup did,” Botti said. “He is much better than he showed there.”
Botti said Jakkalberry’s performance was marred by interference and Flemington would be a track which suited him better.
He was impressed after watching the seven-year-old work at Werribee on Sunday morning.
“He looks in good form, he looks well and he’s keen and I’m happy with his condition,” he said.
“I’m pretty sure he’ll be a different horse next week. He’s come out, he’s bouncing and he’s happy so that’s all we want to see.”
Botti said Jakkalberry would be “a big player” in the Cup.
The horse starts from gate 19, slightly wider than Botti wanted, but he said that would not change the pre-race plan for Colm O’Donoghue to ride him midfield and get cover.
“It’s the way he’s always been ridden,” he said.