Jockey John Allen had his first ride on Melbourne Cup mount Santiago at Werribee on Wednesday

Jockey John Allen had his first sit on his Melbourne Cup mount Santiago as the stayer continued his build-up towards a shot at an all-Irish win the 2020 edition of the great race.

Santiago was bred in Ireland, is owned in Ireland and trained by Irish legend Aidan O’Brien. The stayer will have the services of the Ireland-born Allen on the first Tuesday in November.

Allen was thrilled to land a Melbourne Cup ride for O’Brien, Ireland’s champion flat trainer every year since 1999.

Allen said a visit to O’Brien’s famous Ballydoyle operation might have been the catalyst for his booking to ride the Irish Derby winner in the Melbourne Cup.

“I was delighted to get the call-up and he looks to be a live chance in the race,” Allen said.

“I went and rode work there last year when I was home and I suppose that connection might have helped.”

Santiago has only had seven starts but impressed Allen with his relaxed manner in a gallop at Werribee on Wednesday morning.

Santiago stretches out with Melbourne Cup jockey John Allen in the saddle at Werribee. Photo: Reg Ryan/Racing Photos via Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

“He seems a nice style of a horse, very well mannered, and he worked well,” Allen said.

“Watching a couple of his replays, he looked to race a little keenly but he didn’t feel like that out there.

“He relaxed nicely and travelled nicely at the same time. He looks to be going well.”

The Melbourne Cup ride on Santiago was the latest vindication of Allen’s decision to do the hard work to switch to flat riding after settling in Australia in 2011 to compete as a jumps jockey.

Santiago will carry 53.5kg in the Melbourne Cup, in which TAB rated him an $11 chance, but Allen has a routine in place to maintain his light weight throughout the year.

“It can be a bit of work but you get older, wiser and a bit more sensible,” Allen said.

“I’ve had to reduce my weight. I would say it has been very rewarding so once I was getting opportunities, I was happy to keep working on it.

“Every opportunity has taken me to the next step and I’m really looking forward to the Melbourne Spring Carnival.”

Originally published asAll-Ireland Cup bid with Santiago

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