All-conquering Victorian trainer Darren Weir had an affinity with Newcastle long before he first stepped foot in the city on Thursday.
And on Friday, Weir hopes to grab a piece of the region, the group 3 Newcastle Cup (2300m), all for himself with his first runner at the Broadmeadow track.
The Weir-trained Pacodali will be among the favourites for the $175,000 Cup, the feature race of the Newcastle Jockey Club’s spring carnival.
The five-year-old was the $2.60 favourite with TAB Fixed Odds on Thursday, just ahead of the Chris Waller-trained Sayed ($2.80), but Weir was cautious ahead of his Irish-bred gelding’s first interstate run.
“He’s in the right form, but you’ve got to travel, and go the other way. There’s lots of variables,” Weir said.
“But the form at home is terrific and the owner was quite keen to have a go at a group race, which is understandable.
“It looked a nice race for him and if he could win a group 3, it would be a pretty good result for a horse like that.”
Pacodali, with four wins from his past five starts, travelled to the Waratah Thoroughbreds stables in Moss Vale on Wednesday night and will finish his journey to Newcastle on Friday morning.
Weir came up early on Thursday to speak at the annual Beauford Club luncheon at Newcastle Racecourse, after which he donated his appearance fee to the Mark Hughes Foundation.
Newcastle is one of only a few places left for the Ballarat trainer to conquer.
Weir had a winner in every state last season on his way to a Australian record-smashing 449 victories, prizemoney of more than $24.6 million and 31 group races victories.
That amazing success has come partly from the support of Hunter-based syndicators Luke Murrell and Jamie Lovett of Australian Bloodstock, who rose to fame with the 2014 Melbourne Cup win of Protectionist.
Weir and premier Newcastle trainer Kris Lees take care of Australian Bloodstock's horses. While Pacodali is owned by Seamus Mcpeake, Australian Bloodstock have Lees-trained long-shot Doukhan in the Newcastle Cup on Friday.
“They’ve been terrific for our stable, but not only our stable, but for racing in general,” Weir said of Australian Bloodstock.
“They have heaps of horses with Kris and heaps everywhere. I can’t thank them enough and I’m sure Kris feels the same.
“If I can’t win [the Newcastle Cup], I hope they do.”
Australian Bloodstock have Red Cardinal and the Weir-trained Admire Deus and Big Duke set for this year’s Melbourne Cup. Red Cardinal will join Weir’s stables after the Cup.