Mornington trainer Brett Scott received the news he had been waiting for when he found out his in-form galloper Irish Flame had gained a start in the Ballarat Cup.
Irish Flame was first emergency but secured a run when Power Scheme was scratched on Friday morning.
The former champion jumps jockey now has two ex-New Zealand gallopers in the race in Our Big Mike and Irish Flame.
Scott is pleased with the outcome as he regards Irish Flame as the best chance of his pair.
“The key to him is that he needs the race to be run at a good tempo and I’ve got one of the horses in the race, Our Big Mike, along with Inverloch, whose racing style is to go forward so that’s taken care of,” Scott said.
Scott said Irish Flame had been in great form over the spring and was still learning about racing.
He has won his past two starts at Moonee Valley and Flemington after consecutive seconds at Caulfield but Scott said with some luck he could have won both of those races.
In the first of those second placings, Irish Flame looked home but was run down by Saracen Knight close to the post.
“On that occasion, (jockey) Michael Walker said he wandered around and waited for the others,” Scott said.
“He said if Saracen Knight had raced up to him a bit earlier he would have fought back and held him off.”
At his next start at Caulfield, Irish Flame gave away too big a start to front runner Vegas Knight.
“After those runs Walker said to place the ear muffs on him and it’s made a big difference,” Scott said.
“I think he’s still learning about racing and getting better all the time.”
Irish Flame was trained in New Zealand by Scott’s great mate John Wheeler and connections sent him over without any grandiose plans.
“In his seven Australian starts he’s won around $215,000 so he’s more than paid his way and he’s only getting better with racing,” Scott said.
Irish Flame has the distinction of being the only horse sired by Zed to have won a Group race as a two-year-old.
Scott said Irish Flame handled firm tracks but needed time to recover from them and was a bit better on tracks with give in them.
With this in mind, the trainer will aim Irish Flame at the Easter carnival with the Sydney Cup his main goal.
He said Our Big Mike’s failure in the Kyneton Cup should be forgiven as he was given no peace in the lead.
However, Scott queried whether he had the class to win a race the calibre of the Ballarat Cup.