Browne to sign off Australia foray with Jericho tilt
Cambridge trainers Emma-Lee and David Browne will be represented by handy stayer Border Leicester in Sunday’s A$300,000 Jericho Cup (4600m) at Warrnambool, the longest flat race in Australasia.
Restricted to Australian and New Zealand-bred horses, the Jericho is the brainchild of philanthropist and historian Bill Gibbins to commemorate a three-mile race held in the desert in Palestine during World War I.
The Brownes have enjoyed a fruitful spring in Victoria with their quartet of raiders, with Elephant, Rhinoceros and Bifrost all finding the winner’s circle, while Border Leicester hasn’t been far away as he has built towards Sunday’s target.
It will be the last opportunity to add some more Australian dollars to the bank account this spring, with David Browne set to head home to New Zealand in early December after more than four months as a Cranbourne resident.
Border Leicester enters off the back of a sixth placing at The Valley last start over 3800m in a Jericho qualifier, in a race dominated by Listed Sandown Cup (3200m) contender True Marvel in wet conditions.
“I’m pretty happy with the way he is going. We had to back off him the month before and make sure we had enough horse to get to Sunday,” David Browne said.
“He ran okay the other day. There was a little bit of kick-back and he doesn’t like that much. I think it is a totally different race to the one he is going into this weekend.
“There is a lot of turning, a lot of up and down hills and circles so it is all a bit different at Warrnambool.”
Preparing horses to contest extreme staying distances in nothing new to Browne, the grandson of jumps racing icons Ann Browne and her late husband Ken.
David and Emma-Lee relocated to the famed Browne family property on the outskirts of Cambridge in 2019, with many of New Zealand’s stoutest stayers having utilised the stiff hill on the property to give them a fitness edge.
But Browne has praised the facilities at his home away from home in Cranbourne, which is quickly becoming Victoria’s busiest training centre.
“The facilities are excellent,” Browne said. “They have a back track that is a heavy sand and has an uphill climb on that, it is about 2000m round on that.
“You can go quietly downhill and work them going up quite a few times. There are quite a few options and plenty of tracks to choose from.”
It is somewhat fitting that a horse named after a breed of sheep will represent the Kiwis in a race that commemorates the ANZACs.
“It is always something that you think of, what they have done in that time and the sacrifices they made, and part of the reason the Aussies and Kiwis are so close,” Browne said.
Darryl Horner will ride Border Leceister, who has banked around A$30,000 this campaign and Browne said the key to the 4600m journey is for the horse to relax and switch off.
“Essentially you are running a Grand Annual or Great Northern without jumps. The relevance of being able to gallop becomes less than being able to stay,” Browne said.
“Darryl galloped him the other day and was really happy with him so that gives up a bit of confidence that he should be able to do the job.”
With Elephant, Rhinoceros and Bifrost back home in New Zealand, Browne said having just one horse remaining to look after had afforded him more of a chance to familiarise himself with Melbourne and he is keen to return.
“I would say we would be back in the Autumn with most of those horses again. It does work out quite well and as long as you hit it right then the prizemoney is outstanding compared to home,” he said.
“The feedback from the jockeys is just outstanding and we have learnt to back our judgement.
“We took those two maideners (Rhinoceros and Bifrost) and people looked at us a bit strange, but we knew they were good enough. You can win a $25,000 maiden you have paid for your trip.”
Browne said the Victorian success has introduced a few new clients to the stable and wife Emma-Lee was active at last week’s New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale, purchasing youngsters by Turn Me Loose and Savabeel.
“We have had a lot of interest, so it has been pretty good,” Browne said. “The two horses we bought last week were syndicated pretty much straight away. They were existing clients with a couple of new ones.
“It gives you a bit of confidence that people are keen to invest in your judgement.”
Browne is looking forward to getting home for Christmas after snaring an MIQ slot where he will undertake a week’s quarantine before being re-united with his family.
“It has been over four months so it is a reasonable amount of time, the most we have spent apart anyway,” he said.