Story and Photos courtesy of Graham Potter and www.horseracingonly.com.au
By Robert Heathcote | Thursday, August 19, 2010
Robert Heathcote is the leading racehorse trainer in Brisbane. 'Rob's Shout' - the personal blog of the premiership winning trainer will appear every Thursday on HRO.This coming Saturday I will have a runner racing in Sydney at Warwick Farm.Buffering is running in the Group 3 Up And Coming Stakes. Whilst I would perhaps prefer to stay home and race him, he would be weighted out of the races that suit him … ie, against his own age.Travelling interstate to race horses is never easy and it does involve a lot of planning with the logistics of it and I should point out also that it is not an inexpensive exercise for all concerned.The best way to transport horses is to fly them, but this comes at an exorbitant cost. For example, to fly one horse, one way, down to Melbourne is as much as $9000. It drops to about $5500 if there are 2 horses.Certainly that is the quickest way to get them there and less risk of travel sickness and best for the horses, but you do pay for it? We floated Buffering down to Sydney which is about a twelve to thirteen hour float trip.
It can never be guaranteed that they will travel well. It's an individual thing with each horse and I still marvel at the feats of a couple of recent superstars like Take Over Target and Gold Edition who successfully travelled right around the country … and did it regularly!Full credit to Joe (Janiak) and Ronnie Maund for what they achieved as the difficulty of the travel aspect should never be under estimated.The horse must have the right temperament to travel well and it’s fair to say we also need a bit of luck in that they don't pick up a bug as they do become more susceptible to problems with the increase in stress which travel can be.Buffering has arrived in Sydney and I am pleased to say that he has travelled well. He had a brief stopover in Kempsey where he had a good drink and some hay and he got into Randwick at 3am on Wednesday morning.Buffering is a lovely laid back character with a great nature so we are hoping he takes it all in his stride, but I guess we won’t really know until he races on Saturday.I am fortunate that I have a good relationship with Grahame Begg at Randwick. Grahame puts me up in Sydney and I reciprocate when he comes up to Brisbane for our winter carnival.It works well for us and certainly takes a load of my mind as I am sure it does with Grahame when his horses are here! Buffering’s regular strapper, Robert O'Leary will also be travelling with the horse which is a vital ingredient to a successful trip away.An experienced, knowledgeable and trustworthy staff member is invaluable as they have to be my eyes for so much of the time.I will certainly miss Robert at my stables as he is a vital cog in the running of my stables at home (his brother Mikey says he won’t miss him). Robert may be gone for up to two months depending on how Buffering’s form and health stand up.I have had to put another staff member on to cover his absence which is another salary.I have made arrangements for one of Grahame’s senior track riders, Paul, to ride Buffering in his work which again is a great help.This all adds to the cost of the trip away as well as staff accommodation and meal allowances and throw in a quite a few plane fights and you can see that it's important that the right horse is selected for the trip away as its never a cheap exercise. We had some luck on Exhibition day recently when Buffering won at his first race back at Eagle Farm after his spell, so his winnings will comfortably take care of all his expenses for this upcoming preparation and much more.There has been a bit of doubt as to who will actually ride Buffering on Saturday as Danny Nikolic has been booked, but he recently copped a suspension inMelbourne that would have ruled him out.Dan has ridden successfully for our stable in the past and I have complete trust in his abilities to get the job done.I see with relief that his suspension was reduced on appeal, so he can now ride him although we did have Glyn Schofield as a back-up and what a great back-up option that was! I don't have a particular preference regarding the jockeys whilst travelling away with horses as long as they are top senior riders.We are planning to send the exciting Woorim down to Melbourne soon along with Our Lukas. With Stathi Katsidis based in Melbourne, he will logically get first preference to ride these horses!The great depth of quality in then riding ranks in both Sydney and Melbourne does not make it a difficult task however.I do have a very good relationship with Stathi and I know the owners of Our Lukas and Woorim just love him so that's a no brainer really, but Danny N is usually based in Melbourne so may get to help us out!I haven't personally had a great deal of experience with regards to travelling horses and fair to say it is still very much a 'learning curve' for me at times.I must say having Robert in Sydney and Melissa (Leitch) down in Melbourne will take away most of my stresses because of my trust in them. They know what I require which is the biggest plus.I cannot be in two places at once, or three for that matter, so it is essential we all work closely to make sure we cover as many bases as possible. They both have had many experiences travelling with horses which is a huge bonus.The help given to me by Grahame Begg in Sydney and Steve Richards in Melbourne is invaluable. It is never easy to go away and knock the locals off in their own back yard, but if you don't have a go, then you will never know!We have a few nice horses who may be able to take that step up to the next grade and do Queensland proud, just as big Johnny is doing now down South with Shoot Out!Great Stuff big fella!
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