Coffee Cruizin to the rescue before maiden voyages to Werribee and Flemington
David Jennings' makes the most of his Monday in Melbourne
The Racing Post has dispatched Ireland correspondent David Jennings to Australia for a month-long assignment to cover the Spring Carnival, building up to its highlight, the world-famous Melbourne Cup, on November 7 at Flemington. Keep up to date with all the news, sights and sounds from a unique occasion over the coming weeks in his bulletins at racingpost.com
When an alarm annoyingly starts making a racket at 4.45am it is usually to stop you missing a flight, so the thought of two weeks in Tenerife curbs the crankiness. Not this time.
We're off to Werribee, the international quarantine centre, in the hope of seeing some thoroughbreds trotting. Why do horses need to exercise so early? Can't they curl up into a bale of hay until Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield appear on ITV like most human beings? So inconsiderate.
The only thing that could possibly perk me up at such an unearthly hour is coffee, but the chances of finding a cafe open before 6am is surely remote. Almost as remote as Werribee is from Melbourne. Okay, it's only 45 minutes away but if feels a lot longer at that time of the morning.
Seldom has a 60-something Aussie male looked so attractive to me. Meet Dave Kinnear. After clicking a life-changing treble when finding the winner of the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup a few years ago, he changed his career path and set up Coffee Cruizin. And, guess what? His mobile coffee van is here at Werribee at 6am.
What a clever idea. Making coffee from the back of a van and driving around putting smiles on people's faces. The sweet sound of the beans grinding is getting me giddy and first sip of the large latte has brought me back to life.
No longer a cranky corpse, I'm ready to spy on track work, scribble down notes, chew the ears off the local journos and ask more questions than Chris Tarrant.
The first to be spotted out on the dancefloor are Andreas Wohler's pair - Red Cardinal and Garcia. They crawl a lap or two but quicken the tempo on their final circuit.
It takes two to tango and it is a seven for Garcia and a solid eight for Red Cardinal. He was moving more elegantly and you could certainly see why Ryan Moore wanted to be his partner for the dance off on November 7.
There's Wicklow Brave. As enthusiastic as ever, throwing his head up to heaven every so often. There is still a bit of divilment in him. How could he still love the game?
He's run 37 times - five bumpers, 15 hurdle races and 17 times on the Flat. That would be enough to secure a healthy retirement fund for most but this fella is chasing more cash down under.
He has already earned £672,628. He would earn himself even more fans were he to push that through the million barrier over the coming weeks. Don't bet against it.
You would not bet against Wall Of Fire heating up the finish of the Melbourne Cup either. He chased home Lord Fandango in the Herbert Power Stakes last Saturday and Hugo Palmer gave me the impression he has left a little bit to work on.
His reward for such an eyecatching effort was a trip to the beach, along with stablemate Mask Of Time and Fastnet Tempest. They are full of beans as they tip-toe off the truck. The change of scenery seems to have done them good.
The change of scenery has had the desired effect on Thomas Pirie too. Hughie Morrison's travelling head lad thinks being in Australia is awesome and, to make matters better, he is not convinced the Aussie stayers are that good.
That is music to the ears of Marmelo. We will see what he is made of in Saturday's Caulfield Cup, but Pirie hailed him a burly stayer and maybe that is what you need to win a Melbourne Cup containing so many speedy types with stamina to prove.
Brew proved he had stamina in abundance when winning the race in 2000 and our next stop is Mike Moroney's stable in Flemington.
The Kiwi native sits us down in his comfy sitting room and tells us all about the big day. You'd be forgiven for thinking the race was last Sunday, not 17 years ago, given the detail he goes into.
"It was a day that I remember vividly," he says with the type of warm smile you see kids make when Santa creeps into a conversation.
"Halfway up the straight I had the first and second as Second Coming was bang there and I thought we might quinella it, but we had to settle for first and third in the end.
"It was life-changing for me and what happened after the race was mind-boggling. It was beamed to about 70 different countries at that stage and I felt like I spoke to every one of them in the hours after the race."
The most bizarre revelation of all was still to come, though.
"I dreamt about winning the Melbourne Cup a few years beforehand with a horse called Brew," relays Moroney. "I didn't even train him at the time. I dreamt that he was drawn in barrier 24 and that he won by two lengths."
Brew won the Melbourne Cup from stall 24 with Yippyio two lengths behind him in second.
I dreamt last night that Kylie Minogue wanted to make a shock return to Neighbours but only if the handsome Irish journalist that the Racing Post sent over to cover the Spring Carnival played her boyfriend on Ramsay Street.
If it worked for Mike why can't it work for me?