Jockey John Allen (Image: Racing Photos)
It's almost been 10 years since John Allen answered an advertisement in an Irish form guide and relocated to Australia as a jumps jockey.
These days Allen is answering requests from Aidan O'Brien to ride Irish Derby winners in the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
"I only came out here on a whim originally," Allen said on Wednesday morning after partnering Classic-winning Authorized colt Santiago in his third of eight pieces of significant work ahead of the $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 3.
"The plan was to come here for six months and go for one jumps season and see if I got on well, I obviously did and came back again.
"I got great opportunities from trainers and owners and would like to think I made the most of it. It seems to have taken me to the next step and I'm looking forward to the Melbourne Spring Carnival."
Allen rode as a claiming apprentice for O'Brien's father-in-law Joe Crowley in the early 2000s and made his first trip to Australia in 2004 as a teenager for the annual Australia versus Ireland jockeys challenge.
A barren run of results in Ireland led to Allen replying to an Irish Field advertisement seeking jumps jockeys to come to Australia in 2011.
Allen is unsure how Ballydoyle's senior figures selected him to ride Santiago in the Lexus Melbourne Cup but aside from his linkage through his former master, Allen also rode trackwork for O'Brien last year: "So I suppose that connection might have helped but I'm very grateful to get the ride. I'm very excited ... he (Santiago) looks a live chance in the race."
Allen says he's spoken to O'Brien 'once or twice' and remained in communication with the trainer's experienced travelling foreman TJ Comerford about their Lexus Melbourne Cup plans for Santiago.
Santiago trailed Tiger Moth as the pair worked past the 1200 metres and gradually increase the tempo of their work to three-quarter pace before improving their last 600m in 37.86 seconds. Santiago crossed the line under a tight Allen hold.
"He seems a nice style of horse and very well mannered, he worked well so I'm happy with how he went," Allen said.
"Watching a couple of his replays he looked to race a little keenly but he certainly relaxed and travelled nicely at the same time.
"I hope to get in here sometime next week and I suppose the more I get to know him the better. Any day he's galloping I'm available and delighted to sit on.
"Hopefully we can target the first Tuesday in November in one piece."
Before Allen rides the Coolmore-owned Santiago in the Lexus Melbourne Cup, he confirmed on Wednesday morning that he will ride Avilius in Saturday's $5m Stella Artois Caulfield Cup (2400m) should Godolphin's Australian head trainer James Cummings decide to start the Northern Hemisphere six-year-old at Caulfield instead of in the $500,000 G3 Craven Plate (2000m) at Randwick on the same day.