CLASS 1 HCP: IF THERE'S one sure fire thing that frustrates a trainer is having a horse with talent that manages to find a way to lose.
It's certainly a problem that Julie Hodder has had with Just Imagine, but with four places from its last four starts Hodder is hopeful today will be the day the six-year-old mare will find a win in the Restaurant 24Sixty at the GDSC Class 1 Handicap (scaled -0.5kg) (1206 Metres).
"She is more than capable of winning, but she has definitely got a mind of her own when she feels like it," she said.
"She should have won her last two starts but just hung back and ended up coming second and third. If she doesn't hang back she will be in contention at the end of the race that's for sure but she knows how to get beaten.
"She has just found a way to lose. Her recent runs have been unbelievable though. She ran in Kempsey and just needed another 50m and she would have gotten up but she came third. At Casino she ran a good second but just hung back really badly before getting home with a rocket and got beat by half a length. Last start she got out of the gates well and got six wide and just wanted to hang again."
If there's been on common denominator in Just Imagine's recent run of form, it's been jockey Jackson Murphy.
Hodder said the pair have been building a strong connection.
"She just seems to run for Jackson," she said.
"For some reason some horses just run for some people, and since he has been on her she hasn't been out of the placings.
"Jackson has actually said to me she is the most frustrating horse, but at least he doesn't have to feed her."
Also working in Just Imagine's favour this afternoon is her favourable inside barrier draw, a rarity in her career.
"The biggest thing I think was that she looked like she could have been anything as a two-year-old but never got a gate better than 12," she said.
"It really did break her heart and I think it would have made a difference when she was young. She is actually the unluckiest horse I've ever had when it comes to barrier draws, but today's is good. Hopefully it means she won't end up 10 wide.
"Her work has been good, the work rider got off her yesterday and said it was the best week she had ever done, so hopefully she takes that into the race today."