Mike to end his Aussie trip with a Cup vic­tory

The Sportsman Weekend - - News - CRAIG BREN­NAN

NEW ZEALAND trainer Craig Phe­lan has come to Vic­to­ria with a plan he hopes cul­mi­nates in Pak­en­ham Cup suc­cess.

Our Big Mike lines up in to­mor­row’s race hav­ing his first try at 2500m with Noel Cal­low re­plac­ing Michael Dee in the sad­dle.

The geld­ing worked his way through the grades in New Zealand, fin­ish­ing sixth at Group 1 level in Oc­to­ber, be­fore Phe­lan de­cided to tar­get coun­try Cups Vic­to­ria.

Our Big Mike fin­ished third in the Kyne­ton Cup on Novem­ber 7 then third again in his fi­nal Pak­en­ham hitout at Moonee Val­ley last Satur­day.

“We backed off after the Group 1 with him in New Zealand,” Phe­lan said.

“There was noth­ing re­ally for him back home and all of the horses that he’d been rac­ing against over there had per­formed well here or were do­ing quite well back in New Zealand.

“We de­cided to come over and have a try at some of these coun­try meet­ings, apart from Moonee Val­ley, and we’ve been happy with how he’s gone.

“He’s paid for his trip so far, so any­thing he gets from now on in is a bonus.” Phe­lan doesn’t see the rise dis­tance to 2500m a con­cern to­mor­row with Our Big Mike’s long­est pre­vi­ous race 2200m when fifth at Eller­slie 12 months ago.

“He’s al­ways sug­gested he wants more ground,” Phe­lan said.

“He keeps rolling at that one pace. He’s got a high cruis­ing speed.”

While Phe­lan has been back­wards and for­wards across the Tas­man check­ing on home team, the trip to Vic­to­ria has been ben­e­fi­cial for his son Shaun and his part­ner Emily Farr.

Each has rid­den in re­cent high­weight flat races for jumps jock­eys and both had rides in last Sun­day’s Jeri­cho Cup.

“It’s opened their eyes a bit and ticked off a few things they wanted to do,” Phe­lan said.

“Emily came over think­ing she’d be look­ing after Big Mike and ride a bit of work.

“But Steven Pate­man gave her a push said there was

lack of high­weight rid­ers and the good old Aussies pushed her ap­pli­ca­tion through.

“She fin­ished sec­ond in two dis­tance races at War­rnam­bool on Sun­day, in­clud­ing the Jeri­cho Cup on Crafty Cruiser.”

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