Part-time trainer James McNamara will get his shot at the big time when he takes on some of Australian racing’s biggest names with a city cast-off.
Hornets’ Nest is a confirmed starter in the group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
The northern hemisphere-bred gelding was the last horse to beat Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune until last Saturday when Foreteller got the better of him in a thrilling finish at Flemington.
McNamara, who helps run the family’s milk bar at Koroit, has just four horses in work on his two-hectare property.
When he heard that trainer Mark Kavanagh was planning to bypass the Dato Tan Chin Nam with unbeaten mare Atlantic Jewel in preference for the Stocks Stakes, McNamara saw his chance.
He inherited Hornets’ Nest after the gelding was discarded from the Freedman stable and admitted he nearly sacked him as well because the horse was so headstrong.
“But in April last year I gave him a good gallop on the beach and I said to my wife that he was a seriously good horse,” McNamara said.
“I’d never ridden a horse as fast in the 20 years I’ve been riding horses.”
McNamara’s opinion was given credence last October when Hornets’ Nest beat Puissance De Lune into second place over 2200 metres at Warrnambool to post his fourth win in a row.
Hornets’ Nest was spelled and resumed in May at the same venue where he pulled up sore after finishing last over 1400 metres.
“He jarred up bad and strained a muscle so we gave him time to get over that and we’ve set our sights on some races this spring,” McNamara said.
The six-year-old will face his toughest test when he comes up against a quality Dato Tan Chin Nam field which includes group 1 winners Happy Trails, Sangster and Super Cool and Gai Waterhouse’s Melbourne Cup runner-up Fiorente.
McNamara isn’t perturbed by the class of opposition.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he ran a very cheeky race,” McNamara said.
A field of 11 will contest the weight-for-age feature with the Kavanagh-trained Super Cool favourite with TAB fixed odds at $2.90.
Hornets’ Nest is the outsider of the field at $101.