The unbeaten Elephant is looking to secure his place in the 2021 Ladbrokes Cox Plate field on Saturday
By Ben Caluzzi
Emma-Lee & David Browne’s stable star Elephant will be looking to remain unbeaten when he steps out in Saturday’s Group 2 Clamms Seafood Feehan Stakes, worth $500,000 at The Valley.
The five-year-old son of Melbourne Cup winner Shocking has won five races from as many starts but faces his toughest task to date this weekend when he tackles black-type racing for the first time.
A last start victor of a 1400 metre handicap at Caulfield, Elephant is only an 82 rater, but the up-and-coming star does hold a Ladbrokes Cox Plate nomination - and victory this weekend would secure his place in the 2021 Ladbrokes Cox Plate field.
“It’s definitely in the mix to accept with him if he wins, that’s been the plan for the whole way along and probably why we left New Zealand as early as we did,” co-trainer Emma-Lee Browne said during the week.
“Just David went - he left with the horses - and it was fairly easy actually, because New Zealand at that point was still Covid free, so getting into Australia wasn’t a big deal at all.”
David Browne has brought four of Sparta Racing’s horses to Australia, each with equally interesting names as one another. They are Elephant, Rhinoceros, Bifrost and Border Leicester.
“He (our owner) names them, he said he always wanted to call a horse Elephant and told us that we’d learn to live with it, which has ended up quite true.
I was probably a bit shocked when he said he wanted to call him Elephant, but also he always curls his lip up and it’s like he has an Elephant’s trunk.”
With a fascinating name and the perfect five from five record, it is of no surprise that Elephant is rapidly gaining followers down under, but Browne admits he must still prove himself before being compared with the likes of fellow New Zealand cult figure in the late Te Akau Shark.
“He’s got a long way to go yet. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him, but this is a big step up from what he’s been doing.
“This is probably his first real, proper test against open grade.”
Damian Lane rode Elephant to victory last start at Caulfield but, having been already booked to ride Caulfield Cup placegetter The Chosen One, Luke Currie will ride Elephant this weekend.
Currie is no stranger to success here at The Valley, having ridden Hey Doc to victory in two Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes wins -including one in track record time last year.
“We’re lucky to secure Luke Currie. He came and had a gallop on him the other day and was really happy with him.
“They seemed to get on pretty well so we couldn’t be happier.”
While Elephant will face his toughest opposition to date on Saturday, there is one mare in the field he will be familiar with in Sierra Sue, having stabled with her since arriving in Australia.
“He’s (Elephant) with Natalie Young & Trent Busuttin. They’ve been close friends of mine for a long time, and we’ve brought horses over before and always stable with them so we’re very lucky.
“On current form you’d think their horse Sierra Sue (is the horse to beat) coming off the back of that P.B. Lawrence win.
“But it’s obviously a big step up for our guy going from rating races up to that level, so they’re probably all quite hard to beat at this stage.”
While Elephant does hold a Ladbrokes Cox Plate nomination, Emma-Lee & David Browne are certainly keeping their options open, with Saturday’s race sure to dictate where the son of Shocking goes for the rest of the preparation.
“It really depends on how we go on Saturday, whether we keep pushing our aims quite high or whether we will be a little bit more realistic if things don’t quite go to plan.”
Elephant is currently rated a $5.50 chance with Ladbrokes for Saturday’s Clamms Seafood Feehan Stakes, and no doubt he will be well supported with a growing fan base hoping he remains undefeated.