Cox Plate the target
By GREG WHITE
WITH Coffs Harbour almost 1500km away from Flemington it's hard to believe the extraordinarily high-profile Gordon Yorke and his sprinter Natural Destiny commanded at the VRC Spring carnival.
The gloss may have faded marginally a few moments after 4.30pm on Derby day when the grey horse went down when favourite in the G1 Salinger Stakes but not enough for Yorke to ignore a return visit.
But next time it will be Moonee Valley for the weight-for-age championship of the nation, won this year by Fields of Omagh.
"The 2040 metres of the Cox Plate will be his ultimate target," Yorke said in anticipation.
"His run in the Salinger was fantastic considering his lack of experience and his racing style is for a horse needing more ground."
Before the race, the trainer and horse seemed to be staring out of every newspaper and TV station in Melbourne with Yorke guesting in numerous radio interviews.
In the big race all was going well for Natural Destiny and jockey Glen Boss until the field hit overdrive at the 300 metre mark and the crowd of 129,000 turned up the volume.
"He drew the rails on the grandstand side and Bossy said he was cruising," Yorke said.
"When they took off 300 out, the crowd started roaring but he isn't used to the noise and it startled him.
"It was only for an instant and he got balanced up and going again but Dance Hero and the leaders had got away."
Natural Destiny pulled up well with Yorke more than happy with his effort.
"You know, I really care for him," he said.
"Don't forget it was only his 10th career start and the experience was fantastic for both of us."
The team, including Japanese-born track rider Yasushi Fujimoto, held back until Wednesday to soak up the atmosphere of spring fever.
"Konichiwa," Yorke laughed down the telephone, referring to the Rising Sun's victory in the great race.
"Yasi and I had a bit of a party with the boys to celebrate the Melbourne Cup win."
Natural Destiny will take a short break before heading to Brisbane for the 'triple crown' over summer.
"Takeover Target won two of the three races [Summer Stakes and Doomben Stakes] last season and they've bumped up the prizemoney to $200,000 each race," Yorke said with expectations high.
"The third one is over the mile which will be perfect as we build his program for a shot at Moonee Valley next year."
Mark down the date of next year's Cox Plate ? Saturday October 27.