It has been a huge weekend for former Kiwi trainers Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young as they target some of the major spoils on the Melbourne Spring Carnival. The Cranbourne-based couple picked up four wins, including a Group 2 double, and welcomed the arrival of their English import Mirage Dancer, who holds nominations for the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
“It was a pretty epic weekend with two Group 2s,” Young said. “The only one disappointed was our son Ben because I promised him an Xbox if we win a Group 1.” The Group 2 wins of The Holy One in last Friday’s Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley and Acting in Sunday’s Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) at Caulfield has put the pair on target for Group 1 assignments on October 12 with The Holy One to tackle the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and Acting a late nomination for the One Thousand Guineas (1600m).
And a week later, all going to plan, they will be chasing Group 1 glory in the Caulfield Cup (2400m) with Mirage Dancer, a Group 3 winning son of Frankel who is to be raced by a syndicate formed by Busuttin and prominent bloodstock agent Mark Pilkington. “Trent and Mark looked him over in England and after buying him he transferred from Sir Michael Stoute’s stable to Jane Chapple-Hyam, who has been looking after him for us,” Young said. “He arrived on Saturday in brilliant order and we’re thrilled with him. His track rider came over with him and Brendon (Hawtin) is looking after him in quarantine for two weeks. “He’s due out on October 12 and hopefully he can run a week later in the Caulfield Cup. He’s already guaranteed a start and is number six on the list with 56kgs. We’ve booked Ben Melham to ride him.”
Mirage Dancer has four wins and eight placings from 16 starts and has been Group 2 and Group Three placed in last three starts since winning the Listed Tapster Stakes 2414m at Goodwood last May. His latest start was when second in the Group 3 Glorious Stakes (2412m), which he won last year after finishing second to Best Solution in Gr 2 Princess Wales Stakes (2414m) at Newmarket. “We’re excited to have a horse already guaranteed a start in the Caulfield Cup,” Young said. “It’ll be 10 weeks since his last run and if we feel he’s not ready for the Caulfield Cup he can wait for the Cox Plate then onto the Melbourne Cup.”
While thrilled to have Mirage Dancer in the team, Young is also very excited in the prospects of Acting, a daughter of Savabeel bred by Waikato Stud and raced by Garry and Mark Chittick. Acting completed a hat trick of wins with her victory in the One Thousand Guineas Prelude and received plaudits from winning rider Tommy Berry. “Tommy said she has got the best temperament and he could have done anything with her,” Young said. “It doesn’t look like the 1600m of the 1000 Guineas will worry her, but we have to find a new rider with Tommy being suspended.”
Busuttin and Young are also looking forward to The Holy One, a winner of three of his five starts, contesting the Caulfield Guineas. “It’s all about him being a colt and the Caulfield Guineas being a stallion-making race,” Young said. “He’s surprised us a bit. Being by Tavistock out of a Pentire mare, we thought he might take a bit more time. “All going well he’ll press on for the Victoria Derby (Group 1, 2500m). “We’ve also got plenty for the Australian Derby (Group 1, 2400m) in Sydney in the autumn and we’ve got a strong bunch of fillies. “Acting is the best, but we’ve also got I Am Eloquent (by I am Invincible), who was a stakes winner last start in the Jim Moloney Stakes (Listed, 1400m) at Caulfield, and Leven Lass, who is on an Oaks path.”
Leven Lass (by Reliable Man) won a maiden 1400m and in her fifth start last Saturday week she was third over 1600m at Caulfield. She is likely to start in the Group 2 Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m) on Saturday as a lead-up to the Group 1 Victoria Oaks (2500m) on November 7.
Busuttin and Young are also hoping to sneak Sully, runner-up in the 2017 Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m), into the Caulfield Cup after his close second in last Friday night’s Group 3 JRA Cup (2400m) at Moonee Valley. “I was hoping it was a deadheat for first,” Young said. “He keeps running second and we’re going to change a few things with him. “He will go to the Herbert Power Stakes (Group 2, 2400m) at Caulfield in a fortnight and try and get him a free ticket into the Caulfield Cup.”
Since shifting from Cambridge to Cranbourne in 2016, Busuttin and Young have been steadily building their profile in Australia and finished last season with 80 wins and the most city wins by a Cranbourne stable. “We had a few quiet months mid-season when we had the babies in and were sorting them out,” Young said. “We only had five or six up and racing, but we picked up again.”
With a team of 65 horses in work, the couple have made a flying start to the new season with more than 20 wins and, of note, is their success with New Zealand-breds, particularly progeny of Savabeel, Tavistock and Reliable Man. “Winning is the best advertisement you can have and with it we’ve been able to build up our ownership base,” Young said. “When we came over we had about one and a half more New Zealand owners, but now we’ve got as many Australian owners as New Zealand ones.”