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Mackenzie hoping for a Kiwi slice of Melbourne Cup glory

Aucklander Kevin Mackenzie feels he has a duty to deliver the second leg of a remarkable family double as he ponders Melbourne Cup success on Tuesday.

Mackenzie's nephew Grant Smith is a part-owner of Melody Belle, a brilliant winner of Saturday's Gr.1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) at Flemington for trainer Jamie Richards and the Fortuna Melody Belle Syndicate of owners.

Now Mackenzie is hoping to uphold his end of the bargain as a part-owner of Constantinople , the TAB's $8.50 second favourite for the Gr.1 A$7.75 million Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday.

"Grant is my sister's boy and he'd been working at a gold mine on the border of Mongolia last week and flew in on Friday to watch Melody Belle race," Mackenzie said.

"He hasn't seen a lot of her races but I'd shown him footage of her trackwork at Flemington on Tuesday and he was pretty excited about being there. It was absolute magic for him. She was just brilliant.

"Now I've got to deliver us the second leg of the double."

Mackenzie, a Kohimarama-based industrial relations specialist who grew up close to the Te Rapa racetrack in Hamilton, bought a share in Constantinople in August after Victorian trainer David Hayes negotiated a deal to buy 80 per cent of the Galileo entire in a A$1.4 million package deal with Cape Of Good Hope, with owners Coolmore retaining the remaining 20 per cent.

A veteran of "40-odd" marathons, Mackenzie opted to only take shares in Melbourne Cup prospect Constantinople because of his bent for stamina but the former right-hand man of New Zealand rich-lister Graeme Hart is convinced "Con" still has the necessary speed to win.

"He's a horse with plenty of tactical speed. He won a two-year-old race by 10 lengths," Mackenzie said.

"He brings a similar profile to the winners of the last two Melbourne Cups. He comes in with similar ratings and has run in similar races

Both 2017 winner Rekindling and last year's victor Cross Counter won as three-year-olds to northern hemisphere time and like Cross Counter, Constantinople tackled the Gr.3 Gordon Stakes (2412) at Goodwood and the Gr.2 Great Voltigeur Stakes (2385m) at York, finishing second in both, before going into quarantine.

He then finished a luckless fourth in last month's Gr.1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), denied clear running at a crucial stage of the straight.

"He nearly went down on his nose. As David said, we should have the Caulfield Cup sitting on the mantlepiece," Mackenzie said.

"The last 0, he picked himself up and hit the line strongly and he's come through the race beautifully. He was getting ready for the Melbourne Cup but the last 2 f of his trackwork was faster than Melody Belle's on Tuesday.

"He's a colt and apparently he had been misbehaving a bit early on but since he's been with David, there's been no issue whatsoever. He's just a lovely horse and he's so intelligent."

Mackenzie, who celebrated his 67th birthday with a Victoria Racing Club luncheon on Sunday before enjoying owners drinks at Lindsay Park's Flemington stables in the afternoon, became acquainted with David Hayes during his time working in Hong Kong in the 1990s when the trainer was also based there.

"Lindsay Park is just the perfect model of a training business. They are just superb," said Mackenzie, whose best horse to now was Excellantes, a winner of 12 races for Brisbane trainer Robert Heathcote including five at stakes level.

Among his co-owners in the 80 per cent shareholding in Constantinople are Scott Perrin, the former boss of Billabong surfwear, and Mick Burns, a crocodile farmer from Darwin.

Mackenzie, whose grandfather Doug Mackenzie stood Fair's Fair at Kempton Park Stud near Putaruru and raced steeplechasing great Hunterville, was hoping Constantinople could help him leave his mark on the family's racing history.

"I never get too starry-eyed. He's a three-year-old colt by Galileo who has only had nine starts so he's still in the early stages of his career," Mackenzie said.

"But I can find no negatives. If I had another horse in the race, I'd be worried about this guy for sure. It would be unreal. It's just been so quick. We're only talking two and a bit months since we got him and now we're one of the favourites in the Melbourne Cup.

"He's a lovely big horse and he'll love 2 m. He gets in with a lovely light weight and if he gets a clear run at them in the straight, I don't know if anything would beat him."

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