Capable Eastern Southland-owned trotter Cool Cobber resumed training last week with his new Waiuku Beach trainer Michelle Wallis and is programmed to resume racing on the Christmas circuit in the far north.
Owned by breeder Colin Baynes and formerly trained by the veteran Knapdale horseman in partnership with Robin Swain, Cool Cobber was left with Wallis after contesting the 4-year-old trotters' edition of the Jewels at Cambridge last Queen's Birthday weekend.
The Pegasus Spur gelding, driven by Maurice McKendry in that feature, was looming up in contention on the final bend but was pushed wide, became unbalanced and broke.
Swain said it made good sense to leave the horse with Wallis, saving the expense of bringing him back to Southland and letting him spell in warm conditions in Auckland.
"In any case, the horse is better suited the Auckland right handed way and is inclined to get unbalanced on some tight left handed tracks,'' Swain said.
"He is a big 16 hands horse who was a little weak while he was still maturing.''
Sapling, one of the greatest pacers ever bred and trained in Eastern Southland by the late Lionel Given, generally raced better the Auckland right-handed way, becoming the first horse in history to complete the coveted Alexandra Park triple crown of the Great Northern Derby, NZ Messenger and Auckland Cup at 3, 4 and 5.
Wallis told the Southland Times yesterday she was pleased with the way Cool Cobber had filled out into his big frame during a full three month winter respite.
"He looks good and did well during his spell but I will take him along gradually with the view to racing him about Christmas time up here in Auckland.''
Wallis and Swain agreed that the straight line training on Waiuku Beach would play into the horse's hands this season. They pointed out that big and maturing horses "gaited up better'' and gained confidence, rather than being pressured on bends and becoming unbalanced.
As a bonus, Wallis' partner Bernie Hackett is widely acclaimed as a top blacksmith and an adept hand with shoeing trotters.
The Waiuku partners earlier enjoyed success with the Baynes-bred trotter Catamount, a half-brother by Sundon to Cool Cobber who won four races for Wallis before being sold to North America where he took a 1:55 record.
Cool Cobber raced unsuccessfully 10 times as a pacer at 3 before switched to trotting with fine results last season, winning four of his 18 starts and being three times placed for stakes of $27,105.
"He always wanted to trot and, as he was strongly-bred to trot, we made the switch to that gait,'' Swain said yesterday.
Being by Pegasus Spur from a Yankee Jolter mare (Cool Yankee) Cool Cobber is bred on a stout trotting cross of blood. He is a grandson of former distinguished trotter Cool Cat whose sire Johnny Gee was a standout at the gait for the late Wes Butt. Cool Cat's dam Flying Maiden was also a grand winner in the tightest trotting classes for Baynes and legendry late Templeton horseman Derek Jones MNZM.
- © Fairfax NZ News