Crossroad one happy camper in the Cunningham stable
SOMETIMES you've got to forgive a decent horse for a bad run.
It was certainly a case in point with the Paddy Cunningham trained Crossroad at Grafton yesterday.
The former Victorian made his debut for Glen Innes based Cunningham over 1100m at Armidale on March 14 not having raced since mid-December.
Well in the market at $6, Crossroad did absolutely nothing finishing 11.5 lengths 13th to Cliveden House.
Back to the drawing board one would imagine. 'Is he a dud or is there something there' Cunningham wondered.
His Victorian form - three wins and five placings from 15 starts - suggested he had good ability but what's happened?
Cunningham revealed Crossroad wasn't a happy horse when he transferred to his stables. Put simply, he just hadn't settled in straight away to his new environment.
"We had a few things to work out with him when he first came to us," Cunningham said.
"The first time we galloped him he didn't go well at all. He wasn't a happy horse in himself."
After Armidale, a "mystery" Cunningham still contends, the in-form trainer changed a few things around and bingo, he had a real racehorse on his hands.
"I really don't know what happened at Armidale. Maybe he just didn't go down the hill," he suggested.
"Since then he just improved and improved. His work improved and his attitude improved. He's a happy horse now."
Yesterday Crossroad looked the part charging home under Brisbane rider Jason Taylor to register a 2-1/4 length win in the Battlefield Benchmark 65 Hcp (1200m). He was well back early but swooped on his rivals late to beat Strawberrychampagne ($2.70) and Mosgiel Lucy ($4). While Crossroad went to the post an $8 chance some smart stable punters snapped up longer odds.
Adding more merit to the win was the final sectionals - the last 600m in a slick 33.83sec.
"He was cruising at the 800 metres," Cunningham said.
"I thought, 'holy hell, he's going to give them some hurry up'.
"He's a lovely big horse. I'd like to think given his form in Melbourne and what he did today, there's a nice race for him somewhere down the track."
Taylor was succinct in his appraisal: "He was impressive."
Meanwhile, the Peter Roach-trained Gunnaza appreciated returning to 1006m with an all-the-way win in the Pinwheel Benchmark 60 Hcp.
The five-year-old contested the $100,000 NRRA Country Championship Qualifier (1400m) last start.
"It's good to see him back in the winners' list," part-owner Mike O'neill said.
"The 1400 metres and Country Championships was probably a bit much for him but Peter (Roach) managed to teach him to settle better.
"It was a good effort today under the big weight."
Gunnaza carried 61.5kg plus a kilo for the jockey's safety vest.