Perseverance paying off for Coffs trainer
CLASS 1 HCP: COFFS Harbour trainer Cathleen Rode describes lightly raced three-year-old gelding Free Standing as "a work in progress".
"He's still on L plates," Rode said as she prepared the last-start winner for today's assignment at Grafton.
Free Standing will start in the Book A Carnival Premium Seating Box Class 1 Hcp (1420m) with Gold Coast-based jockey Daniel Griffin secured for the ride.
Free Standing heads into $15,000 event having registered a win and three thirds from six starts but Rode predicts there is plenty of room for improvement.
"He's got some ability for sure but he's still a work in progress," she said.
Rode said Free Standing has taken a long time to mature and is still a preparation or two away from being a real racehorse. Until this campaign the gelding was a notorious bucker but Rode said perseverance is now starting to pay off.
"He's dumped a few riders," she said. "And wiped me out a few times.
"We had him in a big saddle for a long time, trying to teach him and get the bucking out of his system.
"This time in is the first time he hasn't bucked. He's a different horse but next preparation he'll be an even better horse.
"We're still trying to teach him to look forward rather than backwards. He knows something is on his back and in his mind it's not supposed to be there."
While Free Standing's attitude is an oddity in thoroughbreds Rode said the gelding's thinking is coming around.
Free Standing was broken in by Quirindi-based owner Stephen Thompson, the son of Quirindi trainer Bill 'Bot' Thompson.
The gelding, a son of French stallion Equiano, cost a meagre $2500 at a Melbourne bloodstock sale.
"We've had him since he was a two-year-old and just taken our time with him," Rode said.
After a luckless second-up run at Taree on April 2, Free Standing looked the part when he charged to the line to score a narrow win in a 1206m Maiden Plate at Grafton on April 15.
"He hit the line really strongly," Rode said.
"He's a happy Vegemite at the moment. Stepping up to 1400 metres on Monday should give him time to settle more."