A dream 15 years in the making will come true for members of Middleham Park Racing next Tuesday when Raymond Tusk becomes the syndicate’s first horse to tackle the famous Melbourne Cup.
It was only after the four-year-old’s fourth-placed effort behind fellow Cup hopeful Mustajeer in the Ebor Handicap at York in August that Middleham Park believed they had a horse capable of running in the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Tim Palin, Director of Racing at Middleham Park, said: “It was always going to be difficult for us to be able to afford to buy a horse that could go there with a credible chance of winning. Then we just seem to have happened upon Raymond Tusk for the Melbourne Cup. We didn’t cleverly go out there and pursue this.
“When we bought Raymond from Arqana, he was just a nice High Chaparral colt that had a bit of pedigree. It was only the Ebor that told us he could actually go there.
“The phone kept ringing with people from down under asking if Raymond was for sale. We didn’t really want to sell him, and it just put in our mind that if everybody was so interested in him, then maybe we should do it ourselves!
“There was a hint of evidence that he was going to be something a little bit special”
“It’s a dream come true for the owners who have been wanting to go there for ten or 15 years with a horse good enough. It’s a great testament to the owners and to Middleham Park that we can compete at this kind of level.”
Sourced by Peter and Ross Doyle for €85,000 out of the Camas Park and Glenvale Stud draft at the 2015 Arqana August Yearling Sale, the son of High Chaparral entered the care of Richard Hannon and has since won three races, including the Group 2 Gran Premio del Jockey Club Italiano.
“He was a lovely big horse,” said Palin. “He didn’t run at two because he was a little bit larger than the average horse and needed a little bit more time.
“There was a hint of evidence early doors from Arqana and on his debut at Newbury that he was going to be something a little bit special for Middleham Park.”
While Raymond Tusk will be the syndicate’s first runner in the two-mile contest, Middleham Park previously sold Group 1 winner Ventura Storm in a private deal to Astute Bloodstock in 2016 before the son of Zoffany went on to contest the Melbourne Cup in 2017 and 2018.
Palin said: “Ventura Storm has done fantastic for his connections as he’s already earnt his purchase price back if you tot up all his winnings over there. He was an absolutely fantastic story for whoever was involved with him.”
There was a nervous wait for syndicate members on Monday morning to find out if Raymond Tusk had made it into the latest round of acceptances. Palin explained: “We have been on tenterhooks the last couple of weeks.
“We’ve kept seeing horses win races that enable them to usurp you and get in. I was up at 3am on Monday to see if there was a press release and it came through around 6.30am when I found he was number 21.
“Middleham Park celebrates its 25th year in 2020”
“We took the decision to bypass the Caulfield Cup and home in on the Melbourne Cup. All the time we were creeping down from 37 to 34 to 28 and kept thinking we’re going to get in, so let’s keep him fresh.”
With a week to go until Raymond Tusk lines up at Flemington against a field that includes favourite Constantinople and Caulfied Cup winner Mer De Glace, syndicate members are preparing to head out to Australia with their friends and partners to support the four-year-old.
Palin said: “Middleham Park celebrates its 25th year in 2020 and it would be a brilliant way to end our 24th year if we could go on and run in the first four or five.
“We’re looking forward to the barrier draw as that’s the final piece of the jigsaw. Jamie Spencer will ride him and since he rode him in Milan he’s been onboard. He said that day that two miles on good ground is perfect for this horse.
“If he’s right, then it could be part of a dream come true for all of us.”