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One of the forgotten pieces of the open class trotting puzzle is back in full work.
Bordeaux is on the comeback trail from an injury that derailed his 2018-19 season after only two starts, and his trainer thinks it probably bothered him for up to a year before that.
“An extensive examination late last year found an incomplete fracture to his left knee,” said Philip Iggo, of Flaxton in North Canterbury.
“That had been causing him some discomfort for quite a while and meant he was trotting roughly.”
Bordeaux’s best, of course, is very good – he placed at Group 1 level in the National Trot and Rowe Cup and twice ran fourth in the Dominion Handicap.
But he got progressively worse last year and the once-bombproof showy chestnut started showing signs that he wasn’t happy.
“It would only really be evident on an oval track so when he worked on the straight track here, it certainly wasn’t obvious.
“But we knew he wasn’t trotting perfectly and as soon as he had to put pressure on the knee on the bends, he couldn’t cope.”
Iggo saw both sides of the coin once the diagnosis was in.
“To some extent, there was disappointment but on the other hand it identified something that gave us answers as to why he was trotting like he was.”
Bordeaux was shut down before Christmas and a recuperation plan was mapped out.
“He was out for six months, nearly seven, and has been back in the stable for two months.
“He’s just had his first couple of fast runs.”
The Ordeal Trotting Cup at Addington on September 13 comes up too soon, but the DG Jones Trotting Cup at Motukarara on September 29 could be a pipe-opener.
“I certainly am not thinking about the Ordeal, and it’s not a race that appeals to us anyway, but by late September or early October I expect he should be back.”
With longtime driver Dexter Dunn now in America and his brother John committed to Sundees Son, Iggo will be forced to find someone new to jump in the cart for what looks like being a full-on open class season.
And he’s already made his mind up.
“I think we’ll go for Matt Anderson, who I think is a very good young driver.
“He’s been driving him at the trials and I just think he’s a young fella that deserves the opportunity.”
Iggo himself has also been out of action thanks to an ongoing issue with an ankle.
“I’ve been on the injured list for many months and not able to drive him.
“I had surgery to fuse my ankle at the beginning of April and then I fractured that same ankle six weeks ago trying to do too much.
“It’s very frustrating and I’m stuck in a moon boot.”
So, veteran horseman Ned Black, who until recently worked for many years beside the late George Timperley at Motu Lodge Stud, has been doing the driving behind Bordeaux.
“I’m relying on Ned for how the horse feels because he’s doing all the driving and he’s certainly very enthusiastic on his progress.”
Iggo and Black have four in work as the former hopes to bounce back from a written-off season last term where the two runs of Bordeaux were his only two starters.
“We’ve got four in work – Ned’s doing 25 hours a week for me at present.
“Among them is B D Yasothon, a half-brother (Andover Hall) to BD Khaosan that we qualified early last season.
“And there’s another just-turned three-year-old by Andover Hall that I quite like, too.”
Bordeaux will be nominated for the Inter Dominions at Auckland, a track both horse and trainer have had a lot of success at in recent years.
“He’ll be nominated and that’s certainly the desire, to go up there.
“He does enjoy the Auckland way of racing, though part of me wonders if that was because it was taking the pressure off the near side knee.
“I guess you could say we are hopeful rather than confident but I think if he stays sound, he’ll do very well.”