A quiet bond with the most influential figure in racing will accompany Stockman on his race to win the old school Melbourne Cup.
Stockman is a no-nonsense New Zealand resident with a profile that looks out of place in most modern cuts.
But thanks to a connection with two-time Bart Cummings winner Think Big and careful preparation that replicates Cups King’s training plan, Stockman is gaining momentum to run well at Flemington.
As a young man with the ambition of having his own team, Guy Walter drew Think Big for the 1974 Cup while learning the trade under Cummings.
Walter died suddenly in 2014, but a rich racing legacy survives thanks to his brother Jamie, who led the Australian racehorse syndicate as director of Proven Thoroughbreds.
Stockman will be the first Melbourne Cup rider for the union, which says the horse’s progression through the remaining ranks was a surprise.
“For me it is a lifelong ambition to have a Cup rider, not to mention a rider with a reasonable chance,” he told AAP.
“I think it comes at the right time and every spring race has been good.”
In homage to how Cummings engineered 11 of his 12 Melbourne Cup wins, Stockman raced on Saturday, although unusually the race took place not in Flemington but in Sydney.
He delighted coach Joe Pride with the way he took home the Rosehill Gold Cup (2000m) by finishing just behind the leaderboard after falling within a distance of winning St Leger Stakes (2600m) two weeks early .
“One thing I learned from Guy who learned from Bart is that they have to be in good shape to run two miles (3200m),” said Walter.
“That’s why Bart ran so many winners on the Saturday before the race which is so old fashioned these days.”
As part of Pride’s plan to keep Stockman in Sydney as late as possible, the horse arrived in Melbourne in the early hours of Monday after an overnight carriage ride.
And if Stockman brings the recent rain with him from Sydney, the team will be the last to complain as they saddle a rider with one of the best wet track records of the race.