Eight Ball was cut down by injury at the peak of his powers in last year’s Melbourne Cup series but owner/trainer/breeder Matthew Nash hasn’t given up hope he’ll once again make his mark on the racetrack.
After spending eight months on the sidelines, Eight Ball is yet to fire in five starts since resuming, finishing unplaced on four occasions.
Little River-based Matthew Nash is optimistic home-track advantage in Saturday night’s heats of the Winter Cup (520m) at Geelong will spark a turnaround.
“He broke his hock; he’s still got a screw in it,” Nash explained.
“He was out for a long time and it’s going to take him a while to get over it and get his confidence back but I want to give him the chance.
“He wasn’t even in his prime when he was injured. He was still a young-un, but that’s racing and it happens to the fast ones.
“He’s lost a bit early unfortunately but his run home times in his trials are still huge. He just hasn’t really had a crack at them since he’s come back because he’s lost a little bit of speed.
“I want to step him up. I reckon he’ll run 650m – 700m but I’ve got to get him there.”
While Nash feels Eight Ball, which boasts an impressive nine from 31 record despite what has thus far been a winless return from injury, will benefit from further ground, he’s sticking to 520m for Saturday’s Winter Cup heats.
Eight Ball has drawn box eight in the second of two run-offs.
Strangely enough, he’ll be making his first appearance at his local circuit since January 2019, when he was a winner over 460m.
“It’s his local dunghill so I thought I’d put him around and see how he goes,” said Nash.
“He had a couple of post-to-post trials at Geelong when he was coming back from injury and went really well but drawing the pink isn’t ideal.
“I’d give him a chance because he’s trialled well but it depends on what happens from out there. If he doesn’t get touched in the first 100m then he’ll be coming.
“He’s three and a half now so he’s probably only got about six months’ racing left but it would be nice to win a couple with him.”
Injury also sadly cut short the career of Eight Ball’s ill-fated sire Kayda Shae, which won 11 of his 25 starts, claiming Dyna Double One’s scalp in the Group 2 Sandown Shootout and being edged out by Fernando Bale in the Group 1 Topgun.