TUESDAY: August 27, 2019: KAREN Outtrim has credited both a change of stables and training routine for Dragon’s Shadow’s form turnaround.
The Pendragon five-year-old made it two wins on the bounce for the Hawkesbury trainer when he blitzed his rivals in a Benchmark 58 Handicap (2008m) at Bathurst yesterday.
His runaway victory by more than four and a half lengths as a well-backed $3.70 favorite, with Mathew Cahill aboard, was in stark contrast to his last-gasp win on Canberra’s ACTON track on August 9 in a Class 1/Maiden Plate (1900m).
Outtrim purchased Dragon’s Shadow for $5000 at the Inglis Ready 2 Race sale at the old Newmarket complex in October 2016, and the gelding scored a shock $201 win at only his second start as an early three-year-old in a Hawkesbury Maiden (1400m) on August 3, 2017, defeating subsequent city winner Social Element.
“I didn’t give him a chance that day because of a poor barrier trial and a dismal performance (last of eight runners) at his first start,” Outtrim said this morning.
“But the girl who was riding him trackwork then felt he had improved and had $10 on him.”
Dragon’s Shadow failed to win in 25 subsequent starts - although he managed three minor placings on country tracks – until returning to the winning list on Canberra’s synthetic surface earlier this month when he showed plenty of determination to score after being well back to the home turn.
Outtrim has only three horses (Dragon’s Shadow and Anne’s Gift are racing and Captain Americain, who raced consistently last campaign, is spelling) and trains from Lyn Ingham’s stables at Hawkesbury.
“It is a very peaceful setting, and the horses appreciate it,” Outtrim said.
“Dragon’s Shadow was quite highly strung early on, and has taken a long time to mature in the head.
“But he has settled in really well to his new surroundings and my trackwork rider Paul Prentice, who has been handling Dragon’s Shadow since earlier in the year, also does some dressage with him and that has undoubtedly helped a lot.”
Whilst Dragon’s Shadow’s dam (the Carnegie mare Northbourne Avenue) was unplaced at her only two starts, his sire Pendragon (prepared by the Cups King Bart Cummings) landed two Group 3s (1800m Gloaming Stakes at Rosehill Gardens and 2000m Norman Robinson Stakes at Caufield) in 2005.
Hence Outtrim was always keen to try him over a middle distance, though some of the jockeys who rode him felt he wouldn’t handle more ground.
Even successful country jockey Cahill, who partnered him in his dominant Bathurst performance, admitted he was wrong.
“I rode him for Karen last year for the first time (third in a 1600m Benchmark 58 Handicap at Mudgee on September 2 when stablemate Captain American was second), and didn’t think he would get any further,” he said.
“But he surprised me at Bathurst. He settled well and showed a good turn of foot.”
Outtrim reported Dragon’s Shadow has pulled up well, and no doubt will be scanning the RacingNSW calendar looking for another suitable race to give her gelding a chance to clinch a hat-trick.
. Hawkesbury trainers won three races at Bathurst – generally a happy hunting ground – but had to share one of them.
As well as Outtrim and Brad Widdup (who scored with Nevada Sunrise), Wade Slinkard had to settle for a dead-heat in the Class 1 Handicap (1408m).
His four-year-old Banjo’s Voice ($5.50) was gutsy under 61kg and hit the line with lesser-weighted Ben Shoof (55kg). After a lengthy delay, the judge could not define a margin and signalled a dead-heat.