Prince of Arran (Credit: Steve Cargill / Racingfotos)
Fellowes looking to follow in Freedmans footsteps
By Tom Peacock,
Charlie Fellowes will not be short of local knowledge as he prepares to saddle his first runner in the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
One of Britain’s brightest young trainers is into his fifth season in Newmarket, having not only previously served as an assistant to the respected James Fanshawe but with a year with five-times Cup winner Lee Freedman under his belt.
He is adopting a safety-first approach to the campaign for the well-travelled Prince Of Arran, who has been of some interest in the early betting markets.
“He’s had a long year so I was very keen if Melbourne was to happen that I would give him a holiday to freshen him up,” Fellowes explained. “He went out for month and is back in now. He did his first piece of work back last Wednesday, will do another piece this Wednesday, then go into quarantine on Thursday because the plan is to run in the Herbert Power Stakes (at Caulfield), three weeks before the Cup.”
Fellowes says he has “no idea” on likely jockey bookings at the moment. “I’m very good friends with David Eustace, who is training out there with Ciaron Maher, and I’m hoping he’s going to give me a helping hand on the jockey front.
“There are two reasons for running. Firstly he won’t have run since the Northumberland Plate (on June 30), and I think he’s the sort of horse who needs a wake-up, so it’ll be good to go and have a run down there. Secondly we are sort of borderline to get in - every single week I seem to hear of a new horse being tilted to go out to Melbourne and it could be as competitive as ever to get in. If it looks like we aren’t going to get in, or we might need to go up a couple of pounds, I’d rather have him ready to run in a prep-race beforehand, just so that we have our options there.”
Prince Of Arran’s second to leading Cup contender Withold in the Northumberland Plate (3270m) was among a sequence of fine efforts which have included a win in a 3200m handicap at the Dubai Carnival and a third to Call to Mind in the Belmont Gold Cup (3200m).
“We’ve always had it on our minds,” Fellowes said. “You have to be rated 110 or so to get in so after Dubai we had a plan. I always say he’s very good in a big field, flat track, quick ground. And generally in the Melbourne Cup you get all three of those. We took in the Chester Cup, the ground was a bit soft there, then we went to America for the Belmont Gold Cup. One of the things you need for the Cup is to be placed at Group level that year, so that ticked that box.
“We were 109 after America and realistically needed to go up a couple. You don’t get a flat track and quick ground very often in England so our options were relatively limited. There was the option of a Group race but to be going up to 110,111, you still need to be winning at Group 2 level, minimum Group 3, but I knew if I went to the Northumberland Plate and he ran a big race, they’d put him up again.
“He’s got a good record on the all-weather, and although there wasn’t actually a strong pace, it was a big field and it suited. Every run this year has been planned to try to get qualified for Australia. Sometimes plans don’t come off but this year it really did.”
Although Prince Of Arran will be his first Australian runner, Fellowes knows what to expect.
“Lee Freedman had quite a quiet year when I was there, it was just after Makybe Diva, but I did get to the Cup and have seen first-hand what an amazing sight it is,” he said. “It’s a great race and I really, really hope that we’re going to be part of it. I think the horse deserves to be part of it after the year he’s had.”