Melbourne Cup runner ‘dream come true’ for CQ owners
WERE it not for COVID-19, Dan and Rae Fletcher would have been trackside at Flemington Racecourse tomorrow to watch their Melbourne Cup fancy Russian Camelot.
Instead, they and several other Central Queensland couples with a share in the striking colt will be cheering him on from Emerald’s Mayfair Ridge Tavern.
The Fletchers will be joined by Springsure’s Andrew and Angela Schwarz and Bruce and Trudy Roberts and Tambo’s Andrew Thomas and Yasmine Johnson, who will be hoping for a fairytale finish to what has been a memorable spring campaign.
Rolleston’s Terry and Catherine Piggott and Springsure’s Peter and Janine Mahady are also part of the Queensland Cup Colts syndicate, which has a 10 per cent share in Russian Camelot.
Hervey Bay’s Brad and Janice Harvey and south-east Queenslanders Jim and Kaye McGowan, Vince and Ann Ernst and Scott McGowan and Shantal Padayachee complete the syndicate.
Dan said he was feeling good as anticipation built towards the big day.
“There’s not long to go now and I’m looking forward to tomorrow and whatever tomorrow may bring,” he said.
“You wouldn’t read about it. It is quite bizarre to think you have a runner in the Melbourne Cup and you’re not able to go but it is what it is. That’s 2020.
“If we were able to be there, wild horses would not have kept me away, but we’ll make our own fun.
“We’re all totally pinching ourselves, it’s just unbelievable.
“To have a horse like this going around tomorrow is a really proud moment and it’s something we can approach with no expectation or no great pressure either.
“To have a runner in the Melbourne Cup is a dream come true for a lot of us. We’re so grateful for that and we just want to really enjoy the day and appreciate the moment.”
Four-year-old Russian Camelot stormed into Cup favouritism after winning the $400,000 South Australian Derby in May.
Trainer Danny O’Brien confirmed he would start in the Melbourne Cup after placing third in the Cox Plate behind Sir Dragonet and Armory on October 24.
In the interim, the Irish born stayer won the Underwood Stakes and finished second to Arcadia Queen in the Caulfield Stakes.
Russian Camelot has eased in betting and is currently at 13-1 for the Cup, with Tiger Moth and Anthony Van Dyck firming as Cup favourites.
Dan said the 3200m was “uncharted waters” for Russian Camelot but that was the case for a hose of other horses in the field as well.
“In that sense, even though he’s got really good form, it takes the pressure off him a little bit.
“He’s had the burden of being favourite in a lot of these other races where’s he’s been the leading chance.
“He still a good chance in the Melbourne Cup as well, but it’s someone else’s turn to have all the pressure on their shoulders on the day and we can just roll him out and try our best.”
Russian Camelot will jump from barrier 16 and be ridden by three-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver.
Dan expects Oliver to ride him a little differently tomorrow.
“Because of circumstances and barrier draws, the horse hasn’t been able to just be settled in a comfortable position in many of his races. He’s had to be a bit more forward and be placed under pressure early.
“I expect tomorrow… they’ll just let him relax and hopefully he does relax further back in the field and they’ll be able to save him up for the last few hundred metres and we’ll see if he has a bit more kick in his legs.
“He was ridden that way in the South Australian Derby; he was basically last and wide the whole way and came home really strongly.
“Two miles is unchartered waters. We think that he will stay but there’s only one way to actually know and one way to find out and that won’t be until 2pm tomorrow.”
Dan said it was exciting to have a starter in the 2020 Melbourne Cup, which many pundits were describing as the most competitive of all time.
“There’s an English Derby winner in there tomorrow, there’s a Caulfield Cup winner, there’s a Cox Plate winner, there’s our horse who won an Underwood Stakes at weight for age,” he said.
“It’s an incredibly deep race and to even be in the field, let alone be considered a leading chance is no mean feat.”
Dan said that Russian Camelot’s owners were spread across the country and across the globe.
“We’ll all get together somehow or other by digital means,” he said.
“We’ll be separated by distance, but we’ll all be willing each other on together.
“I’ll be cool, calm and collected until I’m not anymore.
“I don’t think you could expect not to get a little bit nervous about an occasion like this.”