Jamie Phillips is happy to have all the attention shy away from his charge Zedeedudadeeko going into the Grand National Hurdles (4200m) at Riccarton today.
"He's flying under the radar and I don't mind," said the Tauherenikau trainer who bred and races Zedeedudadeeko with the McInteer Family Trust.
Punters have been climbing aboard the Waikato visitor Laekeeper for the Hospitality New Zealand-sponsored 4200m feature since his fine win last Saturday in the Sydenham Hurdles (3100m).
Indeed, it was a solid performance by Simon Rees' seven-year-old Laekeeper, who is in line to become the 20th horse to win the Sydenham - Grand National Hurdles double.
But Zedeedudadeeko will be chasing an even bigger achievement. The 10-year-old will be trying to complete the big three - the Great Northern Hurdles, Wellington Hurdles and Grand National Hurdles. Zedeeduda-deeko raced away to a 10- win in last year's Great Northern Hurdles (4190m) at Ellerslie and added the Wellington Hurdles (3400m) to his career tally of seven wins when scoring decisively at Trentham last month.
"It would be great to get all three," said Phillips, who just has the one horse in work and is employed as the racecourse manager at Tauherenikau.
"Once I found out the Northern was going to be at Te Rapa this year and not Ellerslie I dismissed that. It would be a waste of time running him in it at Te Rapa because the circuit is not as testing as Ellerslie.
"That's when I decided to have a go at the Grand National and try and complete the big three."
Should Zedeedudadeeko succeed on Wednesday he will easily eclipse the other memorable day Phillips had at Riccarton as a jumps jockey.
"I rode one winner at Riccarton," Phillips said. "I didn't win any big ones as a jockey, just a lot of the smaller stuff."
Phillips rode 18 winners within eight seasons from the mid-1980s and Zedeedudadeeko has credited him with his two most important wins since he notched the first of his 42 training successes 27 seasons ago.
Phillips will combine with the country's leading jumps jockey Isaac Lupton today with Lupton picking up the ride on Zedeedudadeeko through the suspension of the horse's regular rider Charlie Studd.
Lupton also has a special desire to win the Grand National Hurdles, with the Riccarton feature being the only major jumps race missing from his CV. "We know he'll get the distance and the Northern he won had a peach of a field, stronger than this," Phillips said. "When the tough get going, he'll get going."
- NZ Racing Desk