It’s not quite the green jacket awarded to the champion at Augusta but trainer John Thompson has a pretty special garment of his own.
During his years working for legendary horseman Bart Cummings, Thompson was closely involved with 2008 Melbourne Cup winner Viewed.
The horse carried late owner Dato Tan Chin Nam’s famous colours of black, white and yellow, the same ones sported by Thompson’s emerging talent and The Gong contender Purple Sector.
So when the latter carried the silks to a Flemington victory on Melbourne Cup day this year, it was especially poignant for his trainer.
“During the time I spent at Bart’s we won the one Melbourne Cup with Viewed in those colours,” Thompson said.
“I’ve still got the winning Melbourne Cup jacket that Bart gave me off the sponsors.
“I’m tipping it probably didn’t fit him so he gave it to me.”
Thompson will be out to add to his haul of racing mementos when Purple Sector bids to deliver him a victory in the $1 million The Gong (1600m), eight days after he claimed the $1 million The Hunter with Sweet Deal.
The five-year-old has a new lease of life after being gelded at the end of his autumn preparation, notching two wins and a narrow second in three spring runs.
After opening at $5.50 with TAB fixed odds, he has already been backed into $4.60 favouritism for Saturday’s showpiece race, just ahead of Golden Eagle placegetter Dawn Passage.
Thompson sent Purple Sector for a freshen up in the paddock after his Cup day win and said the horse had continued to thrive since returning to Sydney.
Combined with his spring form surge, Thompson has every reason to be confident.
“He really freshened up nicely and when he came back to Randwick he was in tip-top order again,” Thompson said.
“His last win at Randwick was super. He won it very well and he ran good time doing it.
“In Melbourne, he was terrible. He just didn’t get on the right leg there at any stage and never travelled but at least once he balanced up in the straight he was good enough to get himself out of trouble.”
Thompson combined with Nash Rawiller to win The Hunter but the pair will be in rival corners for The Gong.
Rawiller is riding Godolphin miler Cascadian, an $11 chance, while Rachel King reunites with Purple Sector after steering him to victory in the Spring Mile at Randwick two starts ago.