The reality of running one of Australia’s best stables is keeping Mick Price grounded as the trainer prepares for one of the most important racing days of his career.
Price and his co-trainer Mick Kent Jr find themselves the envy of their peers with three gilt-edged chances in major races across two states on Saturday.
His team includes the favourites for the Victoria Derby and the Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington as well as the $7.5 million Golden Eagle at Rosehill in Sydney.
Expectations are obviously high but Price is keeping a lid on the hype.
“Saturday’s a good day but I’ll just approach it as normal. What can you do?” he said.
“You get up and work your 75 horses in the morning, go to the races, get tired and hopefully some of them win.”
Price has all angles covered in an era of Australian racing where the tradition and prestige of the Melbourne Cup carnival is challenged by the emergence of new Sydney races offering hefty purses.
In Gunstock, and to a lesser extent Jungle Magnate, Price is well placed to claim another Victoria Derby trophy to go alongside the one he collected six years ago with Tarzino.
Gunstock holds a close call on favouritism in a $2 million race that is six years older than the Melbourne Cup.
Like Tarzino, Gunstock’s sire is Tavistock and Price identified him as a Derby horse from the first time he set foot in the trainer’s Caulfield stable.
“We didn’t mess around trying to win a Caulfield Guineas with him. We had a Derby plan all along,” Price said.
Jungle Magnate turned in an eye-catching Derby trial at Moonee Valley last week, much in the same way his sire did in 2015 before winning the Classic a week later.
“Tarzino did exactly the same thing, getting way out the back and grinding away to run a place,” Price said.
Untapped Extreme Warrior is the early pick to win the Coolmore Stud Stakes, a race for three-year-old sprinters.
The Coolmore offers a $1.5 million purse that will pale into insignificance compared to the stud riches awaiting a winning colt.
Sixteen colts and one filly will test their speed over 1200m and Price says Extreme Warrior is the equal of any of his rivals.
“He had a couple of temperament issues we’ve seemed to have ironed out with some more work and discipline,” Price said.
“He’s a genuine racehorse now and I reckon he will go pretty well.”
I’m Thunderstruck has come through a faultless Melbourne spring to be the horse to beat in the Golden Eagle, a race exclusively for four-year-olds.
Price said I’m Thunderstruck had maintained his Melbourne purple patch of form and condition since switching to Sydney.
“If he gets the breaks he is going to be in the finish,” the trainer said.