In a spring carnival that has already featured an extraordinary number of superstars, jockey Michael Rodd is confident he will be on one of the best at Flemington on Saturday.
Rodd begins Melbourne Cup week with the ride on outstanding filly Atlantic Jewel in the Group Two Wakeful Stakes (2000m) and admits he has rarely looked forward so eagerly to any ride.
Atlantic Jewel, like the queen of Australian racing, Black Caviar, is unbeaten having won her fourth successive start in the Thousand Guineas at Caulfield earlier this month.
“She’s come through her Guineas run really well,” Rodd said.
Trainer Mark Kavanagh considered sending Atlantic Jewel for a spell after the Guineas but plans changed within days and her owners, the Irish-based Coolmore Stud, decided on a VRC Oaks campaign.
“There was a bit of a turnaround, but now I can’t wait to get on her again.
“It gives me a headline horse going into the carnival.”
Rodd described Atlantic Jewel as a “push-button” filly who should have no difficulty stepping up from the 1600m of the Caulfield race to the 2000m of the Wakeful.
“She’ll go at any pace you want her to and you can ride her on a long rein,” he said.
The Melbourne Cup-winning jockey said Atlantic Jewel was shaping as one of the highlights of his career.
“She probably at the top, if not the best I’ve ridden,” he said.
“She could be anything, she could go anywhere.”
Atlantic Jewel confirmed her status in the Thousand Guineas after missing the start and coming last to score easily.
Rodd said hadn’t planned to be quite so far back, but had deliberately left the barriers “quietly”.
“I didn’t want to be near the rail at any stage,” he said.
“We finished up getting a little check at the start, but it was never a problem.”
Atlantic Jewel is already an odds-on favourite to win both the Wakeful and the Oaks five days later.