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Iain Jardine targets Melbourne Cup glory with Nakeeta

by 07/10/2017 19:19:00 0 comments 1 Views

By Marcus Townend For The Mail On Sunday

Published: 18:54 EDT, 7 October 2017 | Updated: 19:19 EDT, 7 October 2017

Dumfries to Down Under is a 10,000-mile trip which might etch the names of Scottish trainer Iain Jardine and his horse Nakeeta in the record books if they can land next month’s Melbourne Cup.

No horse trained in Britain has ever won Australia’s biggest race, which is worth £3.7million. But if Nakeeta could win on November 7, the long journey to success would not just be about air miles.

In a few short seasons, 41-year-old Jardine has become established as one of the country’s shrewdest trainers, with Nakeeta’s win in the Ebor Handicap at York in August the pick of his 44 Flat wins in 2017.

Scottish trainer Iain Jardine believes Nakeeta heads to Australia holding a ¿serious chance¿
Scottish trainer Iain Jardine believes Nakeeta heads to Australia holding a ¿serious chance¿

Scottish trainer Iain Jardine believes Nakeeta heads to Australia holding a ‘serious chance’

That is 10 more than Jardine managed in 11 seasons as a jump jockey on the northern and Scottish circuit.

Nakeeta, who will be flown to Australia on Thursday after a period of quarantine in Newmarket, has also come a long way for Kent-based owner Alex and Janet Card.

As well as his win in the Ebor, Europe’s most valuable handicap, and Haydock’s Old Borough Cup in 2015, the gelded son of Sixties Icon finished second in last season’s Chester Cup. Yet he joined Jardine in 2013 a modest-looking maiden without a win in five races.


Jimmy Fortune has brought the curtain down on a near 30-year career after finishing third on Nathra in the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket. 

The 45-year-old jockey, who achieved top level successes on a number of John Gosden-trained performers, has been struggling with a back injury. 

‘I have had this in mind since my back injury earlier in the year,’ said Fortune, who arrived in Britain from Ireland as a 15-year-old and landed the 1989 Ayr Gold Cup on 50-1 shot Joveworth. 

‘I just felt I couldn’t go flat out at it because of the injury I had. I was more of less forced to call it a day.’

Such has been his progress in Jardine’s care that his trainer asserts he heads to Australia holding a ‘serious chance’.

Jardine draws encouragement from Heartbreak City, the Irish-trained 2016 Ebor winner who was beaten a head in last year’s Melbourne Cup.

The trainer said: ‘If I can get him to Australia in the form he is in now, I will be over the moon. Heartbreak City nearly won last year. We have the same weight and we won the Ebor in a slightly faster time. It’s the best handicap in Europe for staying horses.

‘It would be fantastic to go there and be competitive, which I think he can be. The race will be run to suit him and he goes on quick ground.Having a runner in the Melbourne Cup provides a sense of achievement not just for me but my staff and everyone behind me.’

Jardine is a graduate of the Borders pony racing circuit which has produced a string of top jockeys including 2013 Grand National winner Ryan Mania. But he recalls his biggest win was in a £10,000 handicap hurdle at a televised meeting at Ayr. Jardine said: ‘I enjoyed my time as a jockey but I was young and immature. I was always a bit shy. I had the ability to ride well but it was just pushing yourself forward. I was not very good at doing that.’

Promoting himself as a trainer has been simple in comparison. Jardine has just trained winners and people have taken notice.

He soon outgrew his first stable near Hawick where he started off with only three horses in 2011. He now has 70 at Hetlandhill Farm, Carrutherstown, the stable still owned by his old boss Len Lungo, overlooking the Solway Firth. From there before he retired, Lungo trained the winners of two Cheltenham Festival races and a Northumberland Plate.

Jardine said: ‘I spoke to Lenny when I was getting too big for my old place and he said to come over to see him. It’s one of the best stables in the north.

‘When I started training I set myself goals. I wanted to aim high. I want to be one of the best. I want to win certain races. I know it wasn’t as big as the Ebor but it was also great to win the Lanark Silver Bell this season. That’s a prestigious race in Scotland.’

Scottish racing has had a great year. As well as Nakeeta’s Ebor win, One For Arthur, trained in Tayside by Lucinda Russell, won the Grand National. But now Jardine and Nakeeta are taking to a global stage.


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