A good barrier draw is not usually one of the main concerns for a Melbourne Cup contender but the Kiwi connections of The Chosen One admit it is high on their list.
The Caulfield Cup placegetter is the only New Zealand-trained starter in next Tuesday's A$7.75 million Cup at Flemington, although Verry Elleegant (partial) and Etah James both have strong NZ ownership bases and have raced here.
The three Kiwi reps face an imposing European presence in the Cup just months after it looked like the race could have been Australasians only this season because of international Covid travel restrictions.
But now the Europeans are not only here, they look set to dominate.
Add to that a stronger than usual Australian staying contingent and the New Zealanders know they are up against it in the Cup, which will be run without crowds for the first time in its history, as will the rest of Flemington's iconic Cup week.
"We realise how hard the Europeans are going to be to beat," said Andrew Forsman, co-trainer of The Chosen One.
"Not only do we have the ones from the Caulfield Cup but the Cox Plate winner and some others we haven't even seen out here yet.
"That is why getting a good draw from where we don't get too far back is important for our horse."
The Chosen One is rated around a $51 chance with most Australian bookies, with Etah James at $101.
Surprise Baby, who was bred here before being sold to Australia, is the most favoured Kiwi connection at $9, with Verry Elleegant at $11.
The latter's trainer Chris Waller rates himself 100-1 to even make it to Flemington, even though he has never won a Melbourne Cup.
"I have got some plane tickets booked, but unless the travel restrictions between the two states and, more importantly, the requirement to quarantine coming home changes, I doubt I will be there," says Waller.
European imports, whether now trained in Australia or just visiting, hold three of the top five spots in the market, with Tiger Moth the favourite even though he has won only two races from four starts, and one of those was a maiden in June.
The Irish Derby runner-up heads the market at $6 ahead of Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet and Surprise Baby.
The field for the Cup will be finalised after Derby Day racing at Flemington this Saturday.
* Meanwhile, the final jumping meeting of the season has been cancelled.
The Wanganui meeting on Sunday was to have been the finale to the shortened jumps racing season, which racing officials did superbly to pull together after lockdown.
But with firmer tracks and the Great Northern carnival having just finished, only 14 horses were nominated across the four jumping races, so the meeting has been abandoned.