Steve Clifton could very well be the only Victorian to ever head on an international holiday during winter and hope to be greeted by heavy rain at his destination.

The former trainer and ‘very-small-part owner’ of one of the world’s top stayers is headed to England, bound for Royal Ascot, where he would love to see the gloomy conditions for which the UK is renowned.

Clifton manages one of the syndicates involved in French-bred gelding Tac de Boistron, who is one of the leading contenders for the Gold Cup, which will be run in the early hours of Friday morning Melbourne time.

But he heads there knowing that he may be at Ascot and Tac de Boistron at home in his box at trainer Marco Botti’s Newmarket stable if there is not some track-softening rain in the lead-up to the middle day of the famed five-day carnival.

“There’s a strong chance he’ll be scratched if the track looks like being too firm,” Clifton said.

“The forecast is for hot and dry conditions leading up to his race, but Ascot did receive some nice rain over the weekend, so we’re hanging in there.”

Tac de Boistron is one the strongest Australian links to this year’s Royal meeting, which will be one of the rare editions since 2003 – when Choisir claimed the sprint double – that an Australian-trained runner has not been in action.

Tac de Boistron will sport Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock’s distinctive lime colours as he represents the throng of owners who bought into him after Darren Dance struck a deal to buy him midway through 2012.

Clifton acquired the final five-percent share in the son of Take Risks, which he split up between a further 19 friends, relatives and friends of friends, many of whom had never previously been involved in racehorse ownership.

The selling point was, for $1500, they would be involved in a Group 2-winning stayer who, importantly, was already qualified for the Emirates Melbourne Cup.

“I just wanted to get a few local people involved, for a very minimal outlay, in a horse that might be a chance of running in the Melbourne Cup,” he said.

“Within 36 hours, just through word of mouth, the full 20 shares had been taken up. It was incredibly popular.”

Those who signed up have been taken on a ride they dared not dream. They realised their Melbourne Cup goal when Tac de Boistron took part in the 2012 edition.

He didn’t do very well, finishing second-last behind Green Moon, but merely making it to the starting stalls meant it was job done and they had been well-prepared for what unfolded during the running of Australia’s greatest race.

Tac de Boistron’s Australian trainer, Mick Kent, knew within days of him arriving that he would not be able to replicate his European form Down Under, owing to a dislike for firmer ground, hence Kent suggesting after that campaign that he return to Europe.

“Mick spent eight weeks with the horse at Newmarket before he came out and he knew the horse’s stride had shortened when he got out here, so he knew very early on we were in trouble,” Clifton said.

“Mick was the first one to suggest that we send him back to Europe and get a bit of form about him and put him in a sale in October.

“So the plan was to get a couple of placings and then put him in a sale, but he’s just been going too well to sell.”

Tac de Boistron’s third placing, behind Harris Tweed and Mount Athos, in the Listed March Stakes (2800m) at Goodwood at his first start back in England last August is the furthest back he has finished in six starts since returning to Europe.

Next up he scored an eight-length win in the Listed Stella Artois Stand Cup (2500m) at Chester, then beat home all bar Altano in the Group 1 Prix du Cadran (4000m) at Longchamp on Arc de Triomphe Day before victory in the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak (3100m) at Longchamp at his final start for 2013.

He kicked off 2014 with victory in the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes (3200m) at Ascot before a neck second to the in-form Gospel Choir in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup (2800m) at York on May 16.

“We were all doom and gloom and a bit unhappy because things didn’t go to plan out here, especially when he end up going back to England, but once he put his foot on the track back over there it’s all been uphill,” Clifton said.

Tac de Boistron occupies the fourth line, at $10, in TAB’s market on the 4000m Gold Cup. The $2.40 favourite is Aidan O’Brien’s Leading Light, while last year’s Melbourne Cup eighth placegetter Brown Panther ($6) and defending champion Estimate ($9) are the only others ahead of him in betting.

Clifton will be the only member of his Goulburn Valley Syndicate at Royal Ascot, but most of the others will be tuning in from the other side of the world.

A handful reside in Clifton’s hometown of Seymour, while there are other Victorian-based owners in Melbourne, Geelong, Anglesea, Bendigo, Warrnambool, Wangaratta, Alexandra, Riddells Creek and Wandong, plus interstate owners at Canberra and Burrumbuttock.

“The best indication of how successful it’s been has been that all the money that he won last autumn over there is sitting in the syndicate’s bank account and not one of the 20 people involved have rung up and asked for their share,” Clifton said.

“They’re just in it for the fun and that’s what has made it so enjoyable.”

Clifton might be the only member of the Goulburn Valley Syndicate in England, but he will be joined by other members involved in the ownership of Tac de Boistron at Royal Ascot.

They will attend the races together with Dance on Thursday, whether Tac de Boistron is running or not, before heading out for dinner and on Thursday night ahead of a stable tour at Botti’s on Friday.

It will then be back to the races on Saturday where the group will cheer on another ATB galloper, Caulfield Cup runner-up Dandino, in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (2400m).

By Brad Bishop - @bradbishop12