Ballina trainer Jerome Hunter with Melbourne Cup runner Blutigeroo (centre), pictured with former stablemates River Sauvage (le
Ballina trainer Jerome Hunter with Melbourne Cup runner Blutigeroo (centre), pictured with former stablemates River Sauvage (le



BALLINA trainer Jerome Hunter will be looking on with envy when Blutigeroo runs in the $5 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington this afternoon.

And with good reason.

Hunter trained the six-year-old gelding in its formative years after picking it up at a yearling sale.

The progeny of Encounter and Shanghai Sky who's by Zamazaan also won its second race, a class one handicap (1300m) at Ballina when Hunter was first considering moving from the Mornington Peninsula in 2005.

"He actually won his first race at Geelong, and then I brought him up to race and he won his class one at Ballina," Hunter said from Flemington yesterday.

"He then went on to win at Doomben. He was a very immature horse and he had to be brought up slowly.

"Before he ran at Ballina he ran at Casino and Murwillumbah."

Unfortunately, Blutigeroo's success eventually led to Hunter losing him as a runner.

Hunter decided to move from Victoria to Ballina after his success there, but in the process lost 34 runners, including the gelding.

"Most of my clients were from Victoria and they wanted to watch their horse's race there," Hunter said.

"It was my choice and I knew what was going to happen." However, it won't stop Hunter from cheering for his former runner this afternoon as he is still good friends with the owners.

Blutigeroo gets its name from the AFL teams the three owners barrack for (Carlton) Blues, (Richmond) Tigers and the Kangaroos.

Hunter and Syndicate manager Sean Carroll bought the gelding for $10,000.

The stayers' prizemoney has since ballooned to $1,897,000. Now trained by Colin Little in Melbourne and a stablemate to Cox Plate winner El Segundo, Blutigeroo showed his true class last autumn winning the BMW (2400m) at Rosehill while finishing fifth at the Sydney Cup (3200m) shortly after.

Unfortunately, his form of late has been erratic and there was some concern as the five-year-old had been off his feed. I n Blutigeroo's favour, however is the fact he is a great mud-runner.

"He won at Geelong on a heavy track," Hunter said. "The wetter the better. "The way he won the BMW was by sitting fifth on the pace.

"If he does that in the Cup I think he's a big show." Ballina jockey Darron Coleman who rode Blutigeroo when it ran at Ballina is not too surprised the gelding has gone on to contest Australia's premier distance race.

"I remember telling Jerome that this horse would be a lot better over more ground," Coleman said.

"Obviously you don't know how good it's going to be and it was a bit immature, but it had class."

Blutigeroo will be ridden by Luke Nolen who guided El Segundo to Cox Plate glory only a week ago and has been given preliminary odds of $31.

Meanwhile, Fernleigh jockey Scott Seamer has failed to secure a Cups ride.

However, the former Melbourne Cup winning jockey will ride four races including guiding Eskaw which is owned by Casino's Stuart Ramsey in the Liberty Financial Stakes (1400m).

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