England confident but not complacent says Matt Prior

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Matt Prior had a spring in his step as he left England training at the WACA today a richer man than when he arrived.

The England wicketkeeper scooped the winnings in the mandatory team sweep on the Melbourne Cup, when French-trained Americain came home first in the 'Race that stops a Nation'.

England were hard at work right up to off time as they fine-tune their preparations for the first match of their Ashes tour against Western Australia on Friday.

Prior finished his wicketkeeping drills with moments to spare to watch his horse beat hot favourite So You Think.

His upbeat mood, in the press conference which immediately followed, was no surprise. But his enthusiasm and optimism extend far beyond today's bit of good fortune, to England's prospects of retaining the Ashes this winter.

"It's absolutely brilliant so far. It's been fantastic," he said, asked about his first impressions as part of an England team hoping to win the urn down under for the first time in almost a quarter-of-a-century.

"Having that bit of downtime before coming out here was really good - coming over here, I just couldn't wait to get in the nets and get training.

"I am just thoroughly enjoying it so far.

"Obviously it's going to be a tough tour, but my experience so far has been excellent."

England know they will have to dig deep on an assignment which is sure to test them mentally and physically.

But Prior is convinced they will come through.

"The general atmosphere I can see in the squad so far is one of relaxed excitement," he said.

"We are confident, but certainly not complacent or taking this lightly.

"We know the Australian team is a class team, especially in their backyard - so there is a lot of hard work going on."

England were true to their word again, with punishing fielding regimes before two hours in the nets on another very hot morning.

Only Graeme Swann was given any leeway, sensibly keeping his injured thumb out of danger as he skipped catching practice and bowled just a handful of gentle off-breaks.

There is no suggestion, though, that the bruising he suffered in the nets yesterday is likely to keep him out of Friday's match.