Story and Photos courtesy of Graham Potter and www.horseracingonly.com.au
By Robert Heathcote | Thursday, August 18, 2011
Robert Heathcote is the leading racehorse trainer in Brisbane. 'Rob's Shout' - the personal blog of the multi-premiership winning trainer will appear every Thursday on HRO.Another Metropolitan winning double last Saturday for my stable to go with last week which I guess signifies an excellent start to the new racing season.It's funny really, both the Patinack operation and my stable kicked off well last year and I thought the powerful Tinkler team might be real hard to beat for the premiership but they faded a bit later in the season. I suspect that may not be the case this year with the experienced 'Lofty' Killion in the new role as foreman and the talented, but maybe a touch arrogant, young Tim Bell to do the steering!A city winning treble is testament to the force the Patinack operation will become on the local scene!I was asked straight after the win of Availability how I felt … 'relief' I think was the strongest emotion as there is always an added pressure when a young horse gets a wrap put on him and they go around in the red!It’s mistakenly reported that I had put the wraps on him, but whilst I have always thought highly of him and thought he has plenty of ability, I like to see them put the runs on the board before I get too carried away.
I have seen too many horses leave egg on the face of their connections with huge early predictions, but experience has taught me that conservatism is the best approach early in a young hor
Looking after potential stakes class horses is also vital which explains the main reason why I have recently spelled multiple city winners such as Solzhenitsyn and Excellantes and why now we will surely keep a close watch on this new young and budding star called Avaiabilty to see how he copes with his early racing.Whilst Availability didn't win by a big margin, in fact you could say he fell in, I was still ecstatic with his run.Remember he was having only his second life-time race start and was up against some proven quality city performers! He was dropping back from the 1100 at his debut win to the pressure cooker of the 1000m sprint.I don't know why it is but I don't train too many winners over the short course races and I purposefully tried to freshen this Exceed And Excel youngster for the race. That fact nearly got him beaten over the last 20m!He has blistering gate speed although Jimmy said he dwelt a touch, but then he gathered himself and he went clear in a matter of strides. That's an enormous asset to have but, funnily enough, I do think he will be a better horse when he is ridden with a trail and allowed to use his good sprint 200m or 300m from the line.Kinda similar to Excellantes in a way who won a few races when leading at his last prep, but we later found that he is a better horse with a trail and then sprinting once well into the straight.Considering the big weights he had to carry it was something I wish young Bell had done at his last race this prep where he elected not to take the trail against my instructions and sat outside the leader to get nabbed right on the line by The Barracks who had a 5 kilo pull.That was frustrating indeed from the young rider! He did not endear himself to me or the connections but I suspect that's just immature impetuousness?Getting back to Availability, he travelled lovely in the lead and he let down nicely, but the effort to go out hard and do all the work up the tough Eagle Farm straight nearly got him beat.I thought he showed a ton of courage to hang on and he did it in the bloody quick time of 57.4. It will be easy now for the usual 'experts' to pot him as he didn't win by three or four and a 50-1 shot nearly ran him down, but don't underestimate the runner up. I think it's a decent horse in the making as well.I will closely monitor the gelding over the next few days before deciding his immediate future, but the tentative plan is to race him here in a fortnight in the three-year-old 1200. That will prove to me if indeed he has the goods to go on with the job.This is really only his first racing preparation so he is already doing an enormous job. He has a temperament similar to my stables stars in Woorim and Buffering … a lovely kind horse who is a pleasure to do anything with. A vital ingredient I find in getting the best out of any horse.A race like the Heritage Stakes in Sydney could be a nice race for him if he was to hold up? That's in a month’s time? There is no doubt that the horse is still learning and he will have a ways to go to be a complete professional.I remember Buffering used to run around under pressure in his early races, but he soon learned to put it all together as I suspect this lad will. I do think he is the type of horse who will be best suited to 1200 and maybe even 1400 when he matures.Little doubt that he is an exciting prospect and I only hope now that the offers to buy him don't tempt Ken and Wade too much. They have already come for him!If they did, well that's another part of racing that happens and I would still be delighted to have got this horse to this stage and wish the connections well with their windfall!If I am delighted with the future prospects of Availability, what then about my thoughts on Simmering? Wow, that was an awesome display from a horse who was only having his tenth lifetime race start. It’s quite unusual to see a middle distance stayer be so dominant in a race.He came to me as a lightly educated, unraced early three-year-old. I was asked to have a look at him for six weeks or so and to see if I liked him. Like him I did and then it was a matter of finding some new owners for him as he was being 'pinhooked' by his sourcing owners. Fair enough as that's life and often how business works.I was fortunate that some existing stable clients went with my recommendations and purchased him for a six figure sum … so he wasn't cheap!Can you believe that we then rushed the paperwork to get him named (great name too I might add seeing he is by Postponed) and I officially trialled him. eager to show him off to his new owners. He ran tailed off last! I was initially gutted and thought the worst. Still, I backed my judgement and told the lads not to despair and he would return after a spell and be the good horse Ithought he could become … at least I hoped so!I needed a good bottle of red after that barrier trial to sleep that night, I can assure you.Well, the benefits of a good spell worked and he returned for a debut race win of five lengths so we knew then we had something bloody handy. The boys had a few offers to sell him for a tidy profit which were rejected and yes, that was also the right call! He was earmarked as my early Derby runner for the year, but he got a stone bruise and one thing and another. I ran out of time so I then aimed him at the Guineas. We didn't get into the BRC Guineas but he ran a respectable race in the Caloundra Guineas.It's when we have stepped him up to the 2000m plus that his real talent has shone through!Jimmy Byrne is really excited about this blokes prospects and I am sure he would be very keen to stick with him. His rides on him have been faultless but, as he humbly says, it's much easier when you get on the class horses.Jim has positioned him perfectly from some awkward draws so credit where it is due, he rides him well. I imagine Jim will stick with the horse as well wherever he races and riding in this form, why take him off?It certainly wasn't an overly strong field and I am under no illusion what it will take for this horse to be competitive on a much bigger stage, but they can only jump the hurdles that are placed in front of them and Simmering is certainly doing that and in fine style. To be honest, I was also a little in awe at the ease of his win last Saturday as I have never had a stayer win like that and Jim said he never touched him.Once again, the horse is a beautiful animal. Lovely and relaxed with a lovely, kind nature. Peter Spargo and Stevie Wright have done a lot of his track work and if anything he can be a tad lazy. I sometimes have to put the blinkers on him in work just to get him to concentrate!It's that ability to totally switch off in a race, to relax and then quicken when the jock asks which may be able to take this horse onto a big race. Jon Collins found this horse for us so his ability to spot a good young horse is excellent. He could train a bit too … being a Group 1 trainer!I said to the owners in my email on Saturday night after the race … dreams are free and we should start planning for next Spring in Melbourne'!It's a damn long way to go for this young horse but he is without doubt, an exciting prospect.I have no hesitation to send him for an immediate spell. There will be those that argue whilst he is in such fine form, keep him going. They may be right, but I am happy to do what I think is best in the long term interest of the horse.I would think a return to work in early October and a couple of Class 6 plates would be nice races for him as we increase his handicap rating to a level where the ballot may not be an issue.A shortened racing preparation with maybe a race or two in Sydney to test the waters as I feel a trip away might be good experience for later on (next Spring?). I will be guided by his form when he returns.Maybe the Autumn carnival in Sydney is the best option and then get himready for Melbourne Spring? Our Winter Carnival also has nice options so I have a bit of thinking and planning over the next month or so!The Brisbane winter carnival is my preferred racing option but it comes too close to the Melbourne Spring carnival so that may well be determined by the level of success he has when he returns. I have always believed that horses spell best when they go to the paddock on a high and Simmering sure is well at the moment.It sure has been satisfying seeing a number of our horse’s string together multiple wins this past season. Lately it's been Excellantes, Solzhenitsyn and now Simmering has joined them with a hat-trick of wins. Tomboy may race Wednesday or next Saturday and she has racked up 5 from 10 starts making her also a multiple recent winner.It won't be long and we will start to discover the prospects of the new season youngsters. I have had about ten through the system for their initial few weeks and a few nice ones amongst them. I am hoping like most trainers at this stage that there is an up and coming, budding star amongst them.That's another blog for another day.Cheers.Robert
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