Joe Pride was cheering in the rain on Victoria Derby Day last year and this time around hopes to double the celebrations with his two stable stars in action.
Dual Group One winner Sacred Choice heads to Flemington on Saturday to defend her Group One Myer Classic (1600m) and Neeson will join her on the float to Melbourne this week to take aim in the Group Two Salinger Stakes (1200m).
Neeson earned his trip when he returned to top form with a convincing win in the Group Two Premiere Stakes (1200m) on October 1 having disappointed until that point this preparation.
Pride was relieved to see Neeson back to his best and said he was confident of a repeat performance in the gelding’s first Melbourne outing.
“He’s on fire and he’ll run really well on Saturday,” Pride said.
“We’re going down there with not much to lose now.
“I’m really happy with the horse, I think he’s turned the corner, he’s going really well and he’s in the right race.”
Michael Rodd rode Neeson in the Premiere Stakes but Hugh Bowman jumps back aboard on Saturday while Corey Brown rides Sacred Choice.
The Salinger Stakes, run down the famous Flemington straight six, could also open up autumn carnival options for Neeson if he performs to expectations.
“It will be an interesting experiment and it might make a race like the Newmarket more attractive next year,” Pride said.
The trainer admits reigning Doncaster winner Sacred Choice’s performances have been a little disappointing this campaign but maintains the mare can return to form if she gets conditions to suit.
Sacred Choice finished ninth carrying 56.5kg in the Epsom last start and goes into the Myer with four weeks between runs.
It’s a program which has netted a feature race win in her past three preparations.
“She has probably been a little bit disappointing but she’s coming out of the Epsom which is looking like a pretty hot form race now,” Pride said.
Pinker Pinker finished second in the Epsom to Secret Admirer but exacted revenge at Moonee Valley on Saturday with victory in the Cox Plate in which Secret Admirer was a close fifth.
“She had to carry a big weight in the Epsom, she was giving four kilos to the subsequent Cox Plate winner. She’s thereabouts but she just needs a wet track.”
Pride hasn’t had a Melbourne runner since last year’s Flemington carnival but can’t wait to go back for Derby Day which he describes as “the greatest day’s racing”.
“I just want to be there,” he said
“It was no good being up at Rosehill on Cox Plate day but we’ll be down there for Derby Day.”