Andrew Balding. Picture: Racing Post
A former track rider now living in Australia has become one of the key pieces of the puzzle for trainer Andrew Balding as he prepares Spanish Mission on a Cups campaign.
The British trainer confirmed on Tuesday that he intends to send Spanish Mission to Australia for the Caulfield Cup and Lexus Melbourne Cup without his regular staff as they cannot get tickets on a passenger flight in time to meet the horse as he gets off the plane on Grand Final day.
It means just Spanish Mission and Cox Plate competitors Gold Trip and State Of Rest will be on the first spring carnival flight to Melbourne.
Spanish Mission has now entered quarantine in the UK ahead of his flight to Australia and Balding said he couldn’t be happier with his six-year-old.
“He goes into quarantine in Newmarket–I couldn't be happier with him, he's come out of York (when second in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup) great,” Balding told TDN.
“He's passed all his required veterinary checks and goes into two weeks' quarantine and then will be shipped to Australia for the Caulfield Cup and hopefully the Melbourne Cup as well.”
Spanish Mission is a $13 second favourite for the Melbourne Cup with TAB.
Racing Victoria and Balding had worked hard to sort out the staff situation in Australia to allow the horse to travel.
The concept of training from afar without his usual staff isn’t foreign to Balding, who was in a similar situation last year when he travelled Dashing Willoughby for the Melbourne Cup.
It doesn’t make it any easier, though.
“It is a problem,” Balding said of the staff situation.
“Happily we've got a former employee who is working in Australia and has made himself available to ride the horse. We are working on the other details.”