By Jon Lees
Australia: Charlie Fellowes believes Spring Carnival regular Prince Of Arran has his best chance ever of finally nailing a Lexus Melbourne Cup victory after he claimed fourth place in Saturday’s Caulfield Cup.
The Newmarket trainer says the fan favourite will go to Flemington as one of the horses to beat after he came from the back of the field to finish two lengths behind Verry Elleegant and Anthony Van Dyck.
And he confirmed Jamie Kah, Melbourne’s leading jockey who had her first ride on the seven-year-old at Caulfield, will keep the ride over Michael Walker, Prince Of Arran’s partner in two previous Australian campaigns, whose preferred mount Dashing Willoughby finished stone last at Caulfield.
“In two weeks’ time we are going to go there with what I think is the best chance we’ve had out of the three times we have been there,” said Fellowes.
Prince Of Arran has won his previous two Melbourne Cup preps, capturing the Lexus Stakes in 2018 and Geelong Cup in 2019 and then going on to claim third and second places at Flemington.
Drawn two at Caulfield, he dropped back to last and had to be brought wide to deliver his challenge, gaining ground late without threatening to win.
“It was frustrating because he ran an absolute blinder and you can’t help but think that with a better draw he’d have gone very close, but at the same time as far as a prep run for the Melbourne Cup goes you probably couldn’t get a better one,” said the trainer.
“He hit the line strong. The petrol tank will have a lot more left in it than it would had we tried to go forward and been in a finish.”
Prince Of Arran will meet Verry Elleegant on slightly better terms next time over half a mile further.
Fellowes continued: “The winner gets a half-kilo penalty. She is very good but there has got to be a question mark about getting the trip.
“I was massively in the Santiago camp before he got pulled out. With him pulling out that has blown the race wide open as I think you can pick holes in nearly every horse in the race.
“My fellow is proven over the trip, proven over the track. He has a lot going for him.”
Kah, who tops the Melbourne jockey rankings, rode Prince Of Arran after Walker switched to the Andrew Balding-trained Dashing Willoughby, and passed her audition.
“He clearly ran for Jamie,” said Fellowes. “She got him in a lovely rhythm. He had to do it the hard way by coming very wide from out the back. He hit the line as strong as ever.
“Jamie was so pleased with him. She said ‘the draw has beaten us’. He jumped well but didn’t have enough speed from the gates to get as far forward as we hoped. She didn’t want to kill him and give him too hard a race, so she did the right thing, dropped him out and slotted him in and let him just follow the pack round.
“He got going nice and early but the bird had flown. As far as I’m concerned he clearly responded well to her. She will know him a lot better on the first Tuesday of November.
“As far as I’m concerned I want to keep Jamie on. I think she’s an excellent jockey and it’s not really my style to go and jock someone off. I’d rather be loyal. She’s having the most unbelievable season and I want someone who is going to ride with confidence.”