HIS rival trainers have won Melbourne Cups, Golden Slippers and Cox Plates, but that hasn't stopped Dean Mirfin from hoping for an upset in Sunday's Bathurst Cup.
Mirfin is the sole Bathurst trainer to have a runner in the $40,000 feature at Tyers Park, the annual race having attracted horses from the renowned stables of Richard Freedman, Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott as well as Bjorn Baker.
Given the quality of the field, Mirfin knows his chance Sovereignaire is not only going to be a long shot, but was simply lucky to earn a start.
"It's pretty hard to get runners in these races because all the horses from Sydney come out and take the spots," he said.
"Having people like Gai Waterhouse coming out to Bathurst, it's probably a sign of the times and is going to be happening more and more into the future, but it makes it hard."
Still, Mirfin would not have nominated his eight-year-old Husson x Dream Machine gelding for the 1,800 metres race if he did not think he could be competitive.
Sovereignaire has four wins and eight placings from his 30 career starts, his most recent success coming in last September's Grenfell Cup.
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This preparation Mirfin specifically had the Bathurst Cup in mind for Sovereignaire, who had a 20-week spell, a trial and one race start in the build up.
"We targeted this race for him for the last couple of months, we thought it would be a nice race for him on his home track," the trainer said.
"Over the last couple of years he would have been extremely competitive in the type of fields we had last year and the year before, we weren't to know really what was going to be nominated this year.
"While it is a strong race he does have a home track advantage, so he'll get a run and hopefully he'll knock a few of the Sydney horses out."
Sovereignaire's first up run was a sixth placing in the Cowra Diggers Cup, but given it was over the shorter 1,375m trip, Mirfin was still pleased with the effort.
"It was way too short for him .. we put him in the sprint race just to sharpen him up for this race here, which has been the target," he said.
"He did a good job there I thought and with an extra 500 metres for this race, it will suit him better.
"As he's got older, he's become more and more dour and more of a stayer, so that distance was far too short for him and there were some fast horses in that race."
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As for what Mirfin is hoping to see on Sunday, naturally it would be a surprise win. It terms of what he expects from Sovereignaire, who will have Ken Dubar in the saddle, it will be a competitive showing.
"He's quite a smart horse and run places in Sydney himself - he's run a couple of seconds at Randwick and Rosehill - so I'd like to see him run in the top half a dozen," Mirfin said.
"Someone told me the other day that no Bathurst trained horse has won the cup for 20 or 30 years, so it is a tough thing to do.
"One day someone will do it, maybe it will be Sunday and maybe it will be me. I've won with a hundred to one shots before, so you never know."
The Bathurst Cup will jump at 4.30pm, while the first of eight races is set for 12.45pm.