Fan favourite Elephant is headed across the Tasman to kick off a new campaign that has him aimed at gaining a start in the A$5 million All Star Mile (1600m) at Flemington on March 19.
Trainers Emma-Lee Browne and her husband David had considered giving the five-year-old son of Shocking his first-up race at Te Rapa this Saturday in the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) but have instead opted for the Listed Elms Handicap (1400m) at Flemington on February 19 as his opening target.
“We’ve decided to go to Melbourne instead of Te Rapa and he will be on a plane on the 15th to head over there,” Emma-Lee Browne said.
“We had a chat with the handicapper and he indicated he would get around the 60kgs mark for the Elms.
“It enables him to have a first look at Flemington and have a decent hit-out before his second up run which we think will most likely be in the Blamey Stakes (Gr.2, 1600m) a fortnight later.
“Hopefully he will have made the field for the All-Star Mile by then and he will go into that one third-up.”
Entry for the innovative All-Star Mile is decided by a public vote that selects ten of the 15 runners for the event before a further five ‘wild card’ entrants are selected by Racing Victoria to complete the 15-horse final field.
Public voting closes on February 13 with Elephant currently sitting in eighth position on the voting ladder with 2,940 votes albeit over 7600 votes behind table topper Verry Elleegant (10,613).
Browne is counting down the days until voting closes and is doing all she can to ensure Elephant is to the forefront of discussions about the race.
“Everyone I see, I tell about the race and encourage them to vote,” she said.
“We’re sitting in eighth at the moment so it’s touch and go as to whether he can get that automatic spot.
“That would take a lot of pressure off if he did, but we can’t worry about that too much at this late stage.
“He has had two trials to bring him on and we have been very happy with them.
“We have changed his work around a little and the trials were designed to take the pressure off having to gallop him too hard in trackwork.
“We have amped up his work lately and he has coped well, while the plane trip will bring him on as well, so he will be pretty ready to perform in his first up run.”
Also on the plane to Melbourne will be promising three-year-old Rhinoceros, maiden galloper Maktastic along with David Browne and daughters Chloe and Annabelle as the family begin their move to a new base at the Cranbourne training centre.
“David, Chloe and Annabelle are going over with the horses, while our other daughter Lucy will be staying here with me until around April when we head over as well,” Browne said.
“Lucy is very sporty and her volleyball team has been going well so once the season is finished she and I will head over to be with the rest of the family.
“It is a big move for us, but a very exciting one at the same time.
“We actually spent Saturday packing up most of the house, so reality has hit now, but we can’t wait to get the adventure started.
“We have had really good support from our owners here and have around 15 horses booked to travel in March while we have been getting a number of enquiries from over in Melbourne about having a horse with us.
“We have 40 boxes to fill at Cranbourne which can be quite daunting, however I think we are on the right path and I can’t wait to get up and running.”