A RELATIVE unknown in Australia, Italian-born Marco Botti knew exactly what he was heading for when he set Jakkalberry for this year's Melbourne Cup.
Having worked for Luca Cumani, Ed Dunlop and Godolphin before setting up his own operation, it took only a phone call to quickly understand what all the fuss was about.
''I was prepared for all of this - it has not been any surprise,'' Botti said of the Melbourne Cup hysteria. ''I had spoken to different trainers that had been here before. I'm enjoying it and it's great how people feel about the Melbourne Cup. It's going to be a big day and I'm looking forward to that.''
He's also looking forward to the challenge of taking on some of his former bosses, who loom as the biggest challenge for the 36-year-old and his first Melbourne Cup runner. The son of champion Italian trainer Alduino Botti, Marco was destined for only one thing. Weight hampered any ambition of a long stint in the saddle, but there was always going to be work in his father's stables.
''It goes back to three generations probably,'' Botti said of his family's involvement in racehorses. ''When I was 15 I wanted to be a jockey, so I had a little bit of a career as a jockey. Then unfortunately my weight was against me, so since then it has always been my ambition to be a trainer.''
He achieved that in 2006 and since then he has enjoyed success with Excelebration, winner of last year's German 2000 Guineas and group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp.
He doesn't forget his education was with some of the biggest stables in Europe - and they will all play a part on Tuesday.
Cumani is enthusiastic about his best chance to win a Melbourne Cup with the untapped Mount Athos and My Quest For Peace. Dunlop has Red Cadeaux on track to avenge last year's cliffhanger. Godolphin and Saeed Bin Suroor have travelled Cavalryman to be their latest Cup prospect.
A convincing winner of the American St Leger in August, Jakkalberry made his Australian debut in the Caulfield Cup. Ridden by Colm O'Donoghue, the seven-year-old travelled wide throughout and finished 13th. ''Overall I am really pleased with the horse,'' Botti said. ''The draw 19 could have been better, but at the same time he's a horse that if he travels in the race he can come across and have some luck in running.''