Archie Alexander has worked for some of the biggest stables in the world honing his craft in his pursuit to become a leading trainer in his own right.
Stints with Criquette Head-Maarek in France, Todd Pletcher in America and Aidan O’Brien in Ireland among others, gave Englishman Alexander the grounding for his own training career which could hit new heights on Saturday at Caulfield.
Imported stayer Lord Fandango’s win in last Saturday’s Group Two Herbert Power Stakes brought the $3 million Caulfield Cup (2400m) into focus.
It will be Alexander’s second Caulfield Cup runner in just over three years of training at Ballarat but he says the feeling is completely different this time around.
Renew started $201 and finished 16th in 2014 after being transferred to Alexander that week.
The up-and-coming Lord Fandango is at $19 to give Alexander a first Group One win after recent victories in the Benalla Cup and Herbert Power.
“Renew I’d had for six days, this guy I’ve had for 10 months,” Alexander said.
“He’s part of the team and I think he’s in great shape.
“We thought he was more of a horse for next year but this preparation I’ve planned every start and we’ve really thought about where we’re going with him.
“And I still think he’ll be better next year.”
Alexander has liked Lord Fandango since he arrived in his stable but admits the stayer has surprised him.
“When he won a Benalla Cup no-one thought he would win a Herbert Power,” Alexander said.
“He’s won a Herbert Power and no-one thinks he’ll win a Caulfield Cup. But you never know.”
Two of Alexander’s former bosses will be opponents in Saturday’s race including champion Irish trainer O’Brien in whose stable 31-year-old Alexander worked for for just over a year in his mid-20s.
He also worked for prominent owner Lloyd Williams who part-owns Cup runners Johannes Vermeer and Sir Isaac Newton.
O’Brien will equal the late Bobby Frankel’s world record for Group One wins in a calendar year if favourite Johannes Vermeer wins.
“I never thought I’d have a runner against him in a Group One in a short time,” Alexander said.
“But here we are. He’ll be tough to beat.”
And while Alexander might have only been training for just over three years, his journey to having a Caulfield Cup chance has been a long time in the making.
“It’s a bit annoying when someone says ‘oh, he’s only trained for three years’,” he said.
“I’ve been working for 13 or 14 years with the best people for today. It’s not like three years ago I just learned about horses.
“In the record book, yeah I’ve trained for three years. But I’ve been doing a lot of good years with big people for this day.”