LIAM O'KEEFFE prefers to forget Melbourne Cup Day last year.
The Warrnambool-born O'Keeffe is racecourse manager at Flemington and watched in amazement as 54 millimetres of rain fell on the famous course for five hours on the morning of the race that stops a nation in 2018.
"We had a massive downpour of rain which started from 7am," O'Keeffe said.
"I never thought we would get 54 millimetres within that five-hour period.
"It was a terrible experience.
"We kept on racing but that was only possible because of the super drainage system and the great staff we have at Flemington.
"It was just bad luck what happened I'm hoping it never happens again.
"It was my first year as the racecourse manager and to have that happen was amazing."
Fast forward eleven months and O'Keeffe told The Standard on Saturday he's looking forward to the Melbourne Cup Carnival next month.
"I'm really looking forward to the four days of racing," he said.
"The track is in excellent shape leading up to the event.
"We averaged 70mm of rain over the winter months which is good.
"The rain over the winter has just kept the moisture in the track.
"It's a bit of a balancing act to have the track ready for the four days of racing because of so many outside factors like the wind and dry weather but I don't think it could get any worse than having 54mm of rain only hours before the Melbourne Cup."
O'Keeffe was the former track manager at Warrnambool before taking up his job with the Victoria Racing Club.
PLANS for Hamilton-trained mare Jester Halo to resume racing in the early part of Melbourne's Spring Racing Carnival have been halted by her trainer Darren Kolpin.
Kolpin, who is also the track manager at Hamilton racecourse, said Jester Halo may make her return to racing in the middle of November.
"We're just a bit behind time with getting Jester Halo ready for the Flemington carnival," Kolpin said.
"She had a gallop on the steeplechase track on Saturday morning and went well.
"But we're about two weeks behind in time so I don't want to rush her.
"We'll try and find a mares race in the middle of November to kick off this campaign.
"She looks well and appears to be a bit stronger then in her last preparation."
Wearing his racecourse manager hat, Kolpin is hoping for a good four track rating for Hamilton's cup meeting on Saturday.
"The track is in top condition," the former jockey said.
"The track has dried out over the last few weeks but we had 2mm of rain last week.
"I'm hoping we'll have a good four rating by race time on Saturday."
The $60,000 Hamilton Cup, being run over 2200 metres, and a $100,000 restricted race, run over 1600 metres, are the two feature races on the program.
Ace time out
PROMISING Warrnambool colt Adelaide Ace has gone to the spelling paddock after running fifth in the $175,000 Super Impose Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.
Trainer Lindsey Smith had earmarked the $2 million group one VRC Derby on November 2, as the goal for Adelaide Ace but the veteran trainer was forced to change those plans when the three-year-old pulled up shin sore after the Super Impose.
Adelaide Ace's stablemate Olympic Oath ran tenth in the Super Impose and Smith will push forward with plans for that colt to run in the Derby.
"It was not a bad run by Olympic Oath," Smith said.
"He's going to be better suited to the 2500 metres of the Derby."
Olympic Oath won his maiden on the synthetic track at Ballarat in July.
WARRNAMBOOL-trained Instigator may contest some distance races in Melbourne over the next few weeks following his third placing in a 1950-metre race at Morphettville on Saturday.
Having his second run from a break, Instigator was beaten by Jaguary and Wasabi Bob in the $50,000 race.
Instigator's trainer Aaron Purcell said the imported galloper will have derived great benefit from that outing.
"We were originally going to run Instigator in next Saturday's Hamilton Cup," Purcell said.
"We had a change to those plans because we thought Instigator could get too much weight at Hamilton so we decided to go to Adelaide.
"I was happy with his run.
"We'll consider running him in the 2800-metre race on Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington before looking at some of the 3000-metre races under lights at Moonee Valley over the summer months."
Purcell has had a few quiet weeks but the group one winning trainer said that there were many un-raced horses in his stable waiting in the wings.
"We've got 25 horses in work and 15 of them are un-raced," the dual group one winning trainer said.
"It takes a lot of time and effort to get the young horses educated.
"We're happy with how the young ones are progressing but it just takes time to get them ready to race."
Purcell's group one winners are Merchant Navy and Aloisia.