Cambridge trainer Lauren Brennan didn’t know what to expect from her promising hurdler English Gambler at Hastings on Monday, but she needn’t have worried.
The eight-year-old gelding had been pulled up last start at Trentham after tiring in the Heavy10 track conditions, and Brennan hoped it hadn’t taken too much out of the son of Casino Prince.
While he didn’t open up his customary lead in the Farwell Gayle Richardson Hurdle (2500m), English Gambler still dispatched of his rivals to earn a 3-1/4 length victory.
“It was very good to see him back in winning form,” Brennan said.
“While he didn’t take a dominant lead like he usually does, I think the trip to Wellington last week and the bottomless track down there might have taken its toll on him.
“This track (Hastings) came up a Soft6 earlier in the week and we thought we may give him a crack because that is the type of track he probably prefers with his style of running.
“We didn’t know whether he would back-up or not, but he seems to have gone alright.
“Aaron Kuru (jockey) took care of him (last start) and pulled him up, which was good. In hindsight, we should have scratched him before we left home, but you don’t know these things (track conditions) until you get down there.”
The Fairview Motors Waikato Hurdle (3200m), a race English Gambler finished runner-up in last year, looms as the next obvious target in a fortnight, however, Brennan said she will be on weather watch in the lead-up.
“At this stage he will head to the Waikato Hurdles. We will have to keep an eye on this weather, the Waikato weather is going to have to improve immensely,” she said.
“Hopefully it starts drying out a little bit, otherwise we could go back to Hawke’s Bay at the beginning of July (for the Hawke’s Bay Hurdle, 3100m).”
English Gambler is part-owned by Australian syndicator Roll The Dice Racing, and Brennan is hoping to cross the Tasman with her charge within the next year.
“There are only a couple of races he could possibly go over for (this season). We could either do that or start him off in their early season next year because they start a good couple of months before us,” she said.
Meanwhile, the wet weather hasn’t been helpful to stablemate Nancho Girl who finished runner-up in The Callsign Mav Maiden (1400m) at Hastings following a torrid time with her racing schedule.
“I was expecting her to win, but there were three race meetings abandoned on her – Wanganui, Hawera, and Hastings,” Brennan said.
“She travelled to two of those three, and six weeks between runs she probably needed the run in the end. Michael McNab (jockey) thinks she will be hard to beat when she lines-up next.
“I am still happy with her run considering the mess up in schedule for her.”