THE agonising decision to give up the ride on Red Ruler has passed for jockey Corey Brown, who will today aim to land his first Victoria Derby on the David Hayes-trained Wookah.
Brown elected to ride the Luca Cumani-trained British raider and Geelong Cup winner Bauer in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup instead of Red Ruler, which he was aboard in the Caulfield Cup (sixth) and will stick with in today’s Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington.
While the former Sydney premiership-winning hoop is looking forward to snaring a first Melbourne Cup win on Bauer, he also hopes Wookah can make an impact in the $1.5 million derby.
"It wouldn’t surprise me if he won," a confident Brown said yesterday. "He didn’t have much go right for him in the Norman Robinson [sixth] so if he can get a bit of luck in running on Saturday and gets rolling early enough, then he is a chance."
Brown concurs with popular opinion that odds-on favourite Whobegotyou, which has the benefit of the gun combination of trainer Mark Kavanagh and jockey Michael Rodd, is the one to beat but doesn’t think the race is a foregone conclusion.
"Whobegotyou has obviously danced every beat they’ve put to him," Brown said. "But now he is being stretched to the derby distance [2500 metres], and you just never know. It might just sort him out."
Brown was retained by Kiwi trainer John Sargent for the Mackinnon in which the four-year-old has barrier one.
Should Red Ruler come through the Mackinnon in good order and Godolphin’s All The Good be withdrawn from the Melbourne Cup, as expected due to lameness, Kerrin McEvoy will take the mount on Tuesday.
"I gave John the option of getting someone else, given I’m not on in the Cup, but he wanted to keep me on, and I’m only too happy to stick for the Mackinnon," Brown said.
"He ran well in the Caulfield Cup when he ran sixth, and that was also coming from the inside barrier. I would have loved to have been out and rolling earlier than I was with him in that and, from the inside again, that could pose a minor problem in the Mackinnon. But in saying that, Flemington is a bigger track. We should be right."
The Peter Snowden-trained Caymans awaits Brown in the Carbine Club Stakes, and the jockey has no doubt, "h will be suited by Flemington".
"I like the horse, he has upside," Brown said. "His latest run at Caulfield [third] was very good but he just gave me the impression Flemington is his track. He’s lightly raced but has a future."
Samantha Miss’s trainer Kris Lees has given Brown the ride on Absolutelyfabulous in the Myer Classic, with Brown declaring her "an unlucky mare".
"She’s had a few hard-luck stories now, and her latest run [third] at Caulfield behind Mimi Lebrock was great," he said. "She’s a knockout hope."
Brown will ride Kiloton for trainer Tim Martin in the Salinger Stakes and said although it would be his "first time on the horse", he has seen plenty of him.
"The 1200m looks like it is more like his distance than the 1600m of the Epsom that he contested," Brown said.
"The Salinger is wide open, and he’s a chance."
Bauer only walked a lap of Sandown racecourse yesterday as he rounds out his Melbourne Cup preparation, but Brown said: "I rode him the other morning and he worked great.
"He is a lightweight Melbourne Cup chance, for sure.
"I worked him alongside Mad Rush, and you’d be hard-pressed to say one worked better than the other. They both went good."
Damien Oliver was on Bauer at Geelong and will ride Mad Rush, on which he ran fourth in the Caulfield Cup, on Tuesday.
"They are both good Melbourne Cup hopes," Brown said. "Bauer didn’t have everything go his way at Geelong, but he still won as he liked. Damien [Oliver] only hit him about three times so there should be plenty left to work with come next Tuesday."