PROUD: Phil Atkins with In Cahoots in Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images A BATTLING Maitland trainer and his $10,000 horse will take on racing royalty at Flemington on Saturday.
Phil Atkins will saddle up the Newcastle-owned four-year-old In Cahoots, the only horse he has in work at the moment, in the final event on Derby Day, the group 2 tab杭州龙凤论坛m.au Stakes over 1200 metres.
‘‘I’m sure In Cahoots will do Newcastle and Maitland proud,’’ Atkins said on Friday. The 50-year-old Atkins mapped out a spring campaign for In Cahoots some months back and everything has gone to plan.
The gelding finished third behind Chautauqua and Temple of Boom in a cracking Bobbie Lewis Handicap in September down the Flemington straight, the same course he will travel on Saturday. He was then beaten a head in the Testa Rossa at Caulfield before humping 59.5 kilograms to win alisted race at the Caulfield Cup Carnival.
Damien Oliver has ridden In Cahoots in his past two starts and he was keen to take the mount.
Atkins is not underestimating the task his sprinter faces as he takes on the boom sprinter Deep Field, which is unbeaten in four starts.
In early markets, Deep Field is quoted at $1.55, with In Cahoots a $12 chance.
The trainer, who rides most of his own trackwork, has not left the horse in the two months he has been in Melbourne and said he could not fault him.
“My horse has thrived in Melbourne, and I couldn’t have him any fitter,’’ Atkins said. ‘‘Oliver has been riding him in work and he has given him the thumbs up.
‘‘There is a huge rap on Deep Field and he has looked special in his races, but this is his toughest test.
‘‘Take Deep Field out of the race and the field is nowhere as strong as the Bobbie Lewis when In Cahoots finished third.
‘‘There was a dozen group 2 and 3 winners in the Bobbie Lewis and there is only three or four tomorrow.’’
Owner Lee Rowan and family will fly down to Melbourne to watch the race.
‘‘This is our grand final and we head home next week,’’ Atkins said.
Also in the race will be the Rod Northam-trained NSW country horse of the year, Big Money.
Champion Cessnock jockey Robert Thompson will ride the Scone flyer, which won the Ramornie Handicap and WJ Healy Stakes in the winter and was responsible for a superb first-up fourth, beaten half a length, in the Caulfield Sprint recently.
Thompson did not ride the five-year-old at Caulfield, but he is looking forward to renewing his association with the classy sprinter.
“What Big Money lacks in size he makes up for with his big heart,’’ Thompson said. ‘‘He is a real trier, this fellow, as his record of seven wins and four seconds indicates.
‘‘Deep Field is a flying machine, but there is no good reason having your horse in his stable wondering. You have got to take them on.
‘‘Big Money and Phil’s horse, In Cahoots, deserve to run in this race.’’
Northam also has $101 chance Myamira in the group1 Myer Classic, but she is badly out of form.
The crackerjack Scone colt Scissor Kick completes the Hunter Valley contingent at Flemington on Saturday.
He will take on the best three-year-old sprinters in the land in the group1 Coolmore Stud Stakes down the straight after he trialled there on Friday last week.
Paul Messara trains the colt, and he is confident the horse will run well.
“He comes back in distance, but I have freshened him up and he will be steaming home,’’ he said.
‘‘Scissor Kick is a 1400-metre horse, but the straight six is a tough run and he will be competitive.’’