Mick Whittle rolls though a list of horses who have come from his parts of the world to win good city races.
“There was one a couple of weeks ago, was winning in Alice Springs this time last year,” Whittle said.
“Dream Face. Won two in a row in Melbourne this spring.”
Canali was another, and Undue, who started with John Hawkes then went to Darwin and came back to Melbourne to win the Oakleigh Plate.
“There’s plenty of good Territory horses and South Australian country horses come to town all the time and win,” he said.
Whittle did it himself almost a decade ago, winning the Group One Toorak Handicap with Roman Arch who had been sent to him by Robbie Laing to be “sorted out”.
Whittle trained Roman Arch from the front seat of his Ford Fairlane. One hand on the wheel and the other holding the horse’s lead.
They’d roll around the paddocks at 40kmh, the horse getting fit and Whittle getting a sore arm.
It worked well enough for Roman Arch to win seven of his first 10 races for Whittle, including the Toorak, and a year later run in the Melbourne Cup and then to win the 2006 Australian Cup after returning to Laing.
Whittle, a former shearer who trained winners in every mainland state of Australia and who had heart transplant six years ago, has bought another rough chance to Melbourne to run in Saturday’s Group Two Zipping Classic (2400m).
He’s Hot To Trot is a $101 chance in the Sandown race behind the $2.80 favourite Mourayan, but Whittle reckons he’s better than that.
“I’m working on the fact that he’s very well bred and he can stay,” Whittle said.
“And he’s a lovely type of horse.”
He’s Hot To Trot has run into a better field in the Zipping Classic than he’s been used to in his last few runs in Adelaide, but Whittle remains optimistic.
“Sometimes there’s just no pace on in those races in Adelaide for these genuine stayers,” he said.
“It’s probably a bit rich for him, but things happen in racing.”
There is also a more rational reason for the trip to Melbourne.
“He’ll be going round in one of those 3000m races at Moonee Valley next Friday night,” the trainer said.
“He’ll be fit for it.”