Alan Tait is drawing inspiration from a fellow New Zealand trainer to fuel his Melbourne spring carnival hopes with Big Brown gelding Southern Icon.
The Matamata horseman has the Gr. 1 Caulfield Guineas in October as the long-term aim for his unbeaten youngster Southern Icon.
“Everyone dreams of it, and Trent (Busuttin) did it last year,” Tait told The Informant. “They won at Ruakaka and were on a plane over there. He (El Roca) was a certainty beaten in the Guineas.”
Southern Icon beat El Roca’s stablemate Johnhro at his Ruakaka debut in May, and Tait has two further visits to the Northland track in mind for the gelding.
“He’s going back there on Saturday, and I think he’s improved a lot – he looks really good and I’m happy with him,” he said.
“He’ll go back again a month later for the Westbury Stud Challenge Stakes, and if he’s as good as I think he is, then he’ll go to Australia.”
Tait, who prepared the now-retired Southern Lord to win the Gr.1 Levin Classic, was confident his current charge would win on debut, despite his odds of 20-1.
“It was no surprise, I thought he’d win,” he said.
Raced by Tait’s wife Gaelene and stable client Mike Collinson, the gelding is a son of the Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown.
Southern Icon does have close New Zealand ties as his dam Cataclopse (Catbird) is a half-sister to Zabeel’s dual Group One Avondale Cup and Waikato International Stakes winner Greene Street (NZ) (Zabeel).
Southern Icon is currently leading the Westbury Stud Triple Crown Point Series for 2yo’s alongside Copy Watch following his impressive debut win in the first of the three Leg. Southern Icon (by Big Brown) won in a time of 45.42 when riden by Robbie Hannam (riding for the first time at Ruakaka). The pair will reunite for the second Leg this Saturday.