Jockey?s search for better going pays off
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
PORT Macquarie trainer Glen Hodge admitted that he was surprised when Atlantic Prince came to his stables from Newcastle.
In two previous starts, the Kbenjar gelding had finished second last and last and Hodge was sceptical thinking that their must be something wrong with his new gelding.
It didn't take long for Hodge to change his mind.
"He's a lovely horse, he doesn't do anything wrong, he's a perfect horse," he said.
"Generally when you get them off somebody else, they're orangutangs or they don't eat or there's all things wrong, but he's perfect."
Another thing that's almost perfect about Atlantic Prince is his record on soft ground.
A second on a slow Port Macquarie track was followed up by his maiden victory on heavy going in the Urunga Cup Maiden Plate.
The opening event of yesterday's Community Cups day, jockey Adam Nicholls took his horse all over the track on the way to the barriers to test out where the better ground would be.
"I went on both the inside fence and the outside fence on the way to gates," he explained.
"It was very, very heavy on the fence so I thought the wider I get, the better we'll be."
Finding a run down the middle of the track, Atlantic Prince flashed past Mary's Romance and River Born who almost seemed in a battle to see what could run in the spectator's enclosure.
"He struggled to get through the going early but once we got out on the better going, he really found the line."
n HEAVY tracks turn most races into a lottery but Grafton trainer Felicity Firth got the surprise of her life when Western Dane won the Sapphire Beach Cup.
"He's not supposed to handle the wet and I never had a cent on him because of it," she admitted in the winners' circle.
"If it had been dry, I was very confident he'd win."
Firth hasn't had the Nothin Leica Dane gelding for too long and spent the first six months just getting him right to return to the track.
"He had a lot of problems when I got him, a lot of muscle problems and feet problems and I've got them sorthed out."
"A big, big thank you goes to my vet Allan Giles who does a lot of acupuncture and manipulation on him and that's just improved him ten-fold."
Firth is confident that Western Dane can become a good staying type in the not too distant future.