It is Melbourne Cup day in 1992 and a young Trent Busuttin is trackside at Flemington.
It is raining, the ground soggy. He doesn’t care.
Busuttin is here to watch grand stayer Castletown, trained by his dad Paddy, go around in the Cup and for a fleeting moment, he thinks the horse might win.
“I remember at the 300 (metres) he was on the back of Subzero and looked a winning chance,” Busuttin said.
“For five strides he looked as though he was going to come out after Subzero before the other horse put him away quickly. It was a great thrill.”
Castletown finished a brave third and left Trent Busuttin in no doubt about his life’s calling.
And that day, he made himself a promise that 27 years later he is poised to fulfill.
“It was the only Melbourne Cup I’ve seen live,” Busuttin said.
“I said I wouldn’t go back to a Melbourne Cup unless I had a runner. And here we are.”
That runner is Mirage Dancer, sourced out of Europe as a multiple stakes winner from the yard of Sir Michael Stoute and formerly owned by Juddmonte Farms who raced the five-year-old’s champion sire Frankel.
Mark Pilkington, who has worn many hats during more than three decades in the industry, including that of breeder, auctioneer and bloodstock agent, did the deal and retained a stake in the horse.
The other owners of Mirage Dancer are mainly stable clients of Busuttin and training partner Natalie Young, with a few new additions.
“We bought the horse and had him sold within 24 hours of acquiring him.,” Busuttin said.
“They knew, all going well, they had a Cup runner.”
Mirage Dancer handled the quarantine stints in Europe and Australia, travelled well and quickly made Busuttin’s Cranbourne base home.
He has had a conditioning run in the Caulfield Cup, finishing third to Tuesday’s race favourite Mer De Glace, and his trainers say he will be better suited on the more expansive stretches of Flemington.
The horse has not raced much beyond 2400 metres and some form analysts have advised Busuttin they believe he is a query over the Cup’s two-mile distance, but the trainer thinks otherwise.
He is backing his judgment – and making good on a 27-year-old Melbourne Cup promise.
“There’s Cox Plates, Golden Slippers but for me, it’s the one race I have always wanted to win,” he said.
“It’s a dream. If you’re a rugby player you want a World Cup, if you play tennis you want to win Wimbledon. I think as a horse trainer, you want to win the Melbourne Cup.”