JARROD McLean hopes to win his second Mildura Cup in three years when he saddles up Tee Emar and Nicastro in the $70,000 feature race at the two-day carnival tomorrow.
McLean, fresh from a gutsy victory by his jumper Maythehorsebemagic in the Australian Steeplechase at Sandown on Wednesday, has ventured to the top end of Victoria with seven horses to run at the Mildura Cup Carnival.
The 32-year-old Warrnambool trainer had two runners yesterday and saddles up five tomorrow.
McLean won the feature race with Montego Bay in 2010 and was runner-up with Scaredymac last year. But he is hopeful of going one better this year.
“I would love to win another Mildura Cup,” McLean said.
“It’s a great carnival up here. Just to be away from the wet, cold weather down home for a few day is a bonus.
“When Montego Bay won the cup in 2010 it was worth $50,000. Now it’s worth $70,000.
“It would be a great result if we could win.
“I’ve been up here with horses for the last few cup carnivals.
“It’s just great to get away for a few days.
“I’ve always noticed when I get back home the weather is changing from the depth of winter to spring.
“It’s just funny it all happens within a few days.”
Tee Emar will be having his first start for more than three years, but McLean said the seven-year-old had been in work for more than a year with long sessions of beach and road work to repair suspensiory and tendon injuries to both front legs.
“He was very good as a young horse when he was trained in Melbourne but he had bad leg issues when we got him,” McLean said.
“I reckon he’s over those issues now following countless hours down the beach and on the roads, plus on the treadmill.
“It will be interesting to see what he does. I suppose if he was at his best he could win.
“He looked like being a quality horse when he broke down back in 2010. He’s done all the rehab work, now we’ll just have to see what he does on the track in a race.”
McLean’s other Mildura Cup contender Nicastro returns to racing after a throat operation.
“Nicastro is in good shape,” McLean said.
“I think he’s better than what his form shows. He’s won a race at Mildura, which is always a good sign, and goes all right over 1400 metres.
“He’s had a good freshen up and it would not surprise me if he sprinted well first up.
“He’s a bit like Tee Emar — if he struck his best form, he would be in the finish.”
Smarty Mac, which is trained by McLean, runs in an $80,000 race at Caulfield today.
Ciaron Maher, who has stables at Caulfield and Winslow, kicks off the spring preparation for Mr O’Ceirin in the $120,000 Slickpix Stakes over 1700 metres.