Tonight is the night that we have all been waiting for. Tonight one star sprinter will be crowned the 2014 Melbourne Cup champion and one set of connections will walk away $420,000 richer.
Eight superb canines are ready to do battle. For most it will be a nerve-wracking experience, for Awesome Project it will just be like any other race.
The Darren McDonald- trained chaser knows a thing or two about racing at the elite level.
Tonight will be his seventh appearance at Group level where he will be chasing his third victory. The veteran of 55 starts has already tasted success in the Group Two Gosford Cup and the Group Two Harrison- Dawson with that all important Group One honour so far alluding him.
His closest finish at the highest level was last month where he finished a gallant third in the Group One Topgun at The Meadows.
His owner and former trainer Brad Canty knows just how special the son of Collision and Honour Phase is. Rarely putting in a bad performance, he goes into the Melbourne Cup as a winner of 28 races with 15 minor placings.
“He is very consistent and he has been consistent all the way through his career since I sent him down to Darren after the Gosford Cup. He has probably only had three weeks off this whole time and if you go right through his form and he has just about made all the big group finals”, Canty said.
“I don’t think I will ever own a better dog than him, not a more consistent one anyway. He is very reliable.”
Awesome Project was an all the way winner of his heat last week clocking a slick 29.39. While he loves the track at Sandown, where he is yet to miss a place from 13 starts, it will be a tough ask to claim the final jumping from box four.
“The draw is not good for him with the six, seven and eight going to be crashing across from out wide with pace.
“He has speared the lids and come out running a couple of times like when he won the Harrison- Dawson and in a heat of the Brisbane Cup he came up two in front, but I think whatever dog leads that race will probably win.
“They are all basically leaders in the race, he is probably the strongest dog in the race, but they are going to be running 29.3 so whatever dog goes to the front will be hard to run down.”
Canty, who is based in New South Wales, has made the trip to Melbourne to cheer on his charge.
While it is going to be a tough race, Awesome Project should never be discounted.
“Luck is going to play a big part in it, you couldn’t have hand picked a better eight dogs for the race but if he can come out and hold his position to the first turn he will be a big chance.”
And for a rising four year old, a win in the sport’s most coveted feature could lock in a future career at stud.