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‘Ticket to Dubai’: Trainer dreams big with Country Classic winner

Flemington, Dubai and Royal Ascot.

Nowra trainer Mike Cattell is dreaming big after Zegalo became his first city winner at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

A builder by trade, Cattell, had been involved in racing as an owner for many years before deciding to try his hand as a trainer in 2018.

He purchased Zegalo for $8000 last year after the imported galloper did a tendon and he rewarded his trainer’s dedication with the biggest win in his short training career in the $160,000 Country Classic (2000m).

“This is big for our stable,” Cattell said. “It’s my first city winner.

Zegalo wins the Country Classic.

“This horse had a bowed tendon and we fixed him. This horse is a different class to anything I’ve trained before.

“He’s a machine and I think he can take me around the world. It’s only a Country Classic some people will say, but this horse needs two miles. What he did today was just on ability.”

Despite Saturday being Zegalo’s first win for his new trainer from 17 starts, Cattell is looking to raise the bar for the seven-year-old gelded son of Zoffany.

Cattell revealed he’d been in contact with the Dubai Racing Club which has been canvassing interested parties for the $US 30.5 million Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan in March next year.

“He might have just earned his ticket to Dubai,” Cattell said.

“The Dubai Gold Cup is over two miles on the turf. It’s only a Group 2 so you avoid all the best of the best in the world.

“It’s worth a million US and they pay all your bills so it’s free holiday. They are looking for stayers for the Gold Cup from all over the world.

Sydney Racing

Dylan Gibbons riding Zegalo.

“They reached out last Saturday and asked ‘what are your plans with him’.

“They said, ‘Well, if he wins on Saturday we’ll write you an invitation’.”

Before a trip to Dubai, Cattell also has a Victorian Listed race offering 200,000 in prizemoney in his sights.

“We’ll look at the Bagot on New Year’s Day. 2800m, big straight, we’ll go there first,” he said.

“If I can get this horse over to an Ascot Gold Cup, he will run the 4000 metres.

“We’ve got big plans with him and that’s why I haven’t taken on any horses, I’m getting phone calls all the time, they want to send them to me because I train off the beach.”

Zegalo ($10) defeated the fast-finishing Eaglemont ($3.60) by a short-head with Rematch ($11) a length back in third.

“It was pretty good,” winning jockey Dylan Gibbons said.

“When a run presented to get him into the clear and get his revs up I took it.

“When he got there he floated around a bit but it was a pretty good win.”