RACING: THE connections of Moringa's Odyssey hope to have their patience rewarded once again when the five-year-old chases back-to- back victories at Grafton on Thursday.
Trained at Grafton by Shane Everson, Moringa's Odyssey, a five-year-old son of the Danehill stallion Saint Thomas (a full-brother to the NZ sire Keeper), only made his racing debut at Grafton on September 2.
Sent out a $10 chance, Moringa's Odyssey finished strongly from midfield to win the Maiden Hcp over 1006m.
Today he steps up to 1206m in the Restaurant 24Sixty At The GDSC Class 1 Hcp.
Everson explained that Moringa's Odyssey had been a "late-maturing” galloper and perhaps not the quickest learner in the stable.
"He didn't have any major issues that kept him from racing until he was five,” he said.
"They are a late-maturing breed and his owner Helen (Moran) likes to give her horses plenty of time anyway. But he was probably not the smartest horse either. He's still very green and will get better with more racing experience.
"His trials and jumpouts had been nice, so we thought he would race well on debut provided his racing manners were okay.
"He was able to get away with that first race at Grafton and now he's got to step up to the Class 1 on Thursday, and that's never easy. But he's a nice horse who hopefully can progress as he gets more experience.
"Stepping up to the 1200m on Thursday will really suit him and down the track he should be best suited at 1400m to 1600m.”
Moringa's Odyssey, to again be ridden by Matt Paget, has drawn gate seven in Thursday's 14-horse field which also includes ex-Godolphin galloper Syrah, now trained at Taree by Ross Stitt, and last-start winners Grey Pirahna, Sky Classic and Bearly Thinking.
Everson hasn't fared too well with barrier draws for two of his other Grafton runners on Thursday with Light Motion coming up with gate 10 in the Boxing At The Track This Saturday Benchmark 55 Hcp (2220m) and Hidden Storm drawing awkwardly in gate 11 in the Beauford Club Of Newcastle C,G& E Maiden Hcp (1106m).
Formerly with Gold Coast trainer Noel Doyle, Hidden Storm has drawn an outside gate in each of the four runs he's had for Everson but has still managed placings at Coffs Harbour (June 25) and Ballina (July 28).
"I think they had some problems with him when he was trained on the Coast, but he seems to be very content now and the change of scenery seems to have helped him,” said Everson.
"I think he's close to breaking through, but he just hasn't been able to draw a decent gate since I've had him.”
Apprentice Olivia Pickering will claim 3kg on both Hidden Storm and Light Motion on Thursday.
Light Motion is yet to win beyond 1700m but Everson is not concerned by the 2220m of Thursday's race. Light Motion has been placed once in four runs around that trip but raced well each time.
"Some people may think he's not a stayer, but he did run third in the Grafton Cup Prelude (over 2215m) last year then wasn't disgraced in the Grafton Cup even though he was a Class 3 horse,” he said. "The key with him is the race tempo - if he gets a run to suit on Thursday he should race well.”
Murwillumbah trainer Matt Dunn looks to have two strong chances at the Grafton meeting - Bronzed Venom, who has been scratched from Wednesday's Doomben meeting to run in the Class 3 Hcp (1410m), and Call The Coppers in the Maiden Hcp (1106m).
Call The Coppers, placed in all six starts, has been a costly horse for punters to follow, going down at his last two outings as a $1.50 favourite back on February 17 and then as a $2.05 favourite when he resumed at Murwillumbah on August 25.