SET ALIGHT, a French group winner imported to Australia as a stallion prospect, continues its racetrack rejuvenation at Grafton tomorrow.
The six-year-old entire, now under the care of Gordon Yorke at Coffs Harbour, tackles the Robbor Pty Ltd Open Hcp (1409m) with Scott Thurlow in the saddle.
Set Alight managed to serve just nine mares in Australia before the crippling equine influenza outbreak put paid to his immediate prospects in the breeding barn.
The owners decided to put him back into work with Marianne Thexton on the Gold Coast but the Hennessy entire failed to fire in two runs.
Enter Yorke, the trainer of 1990 Victoria Derby winner Fire Oak.
“He (Set Alight) went dismally, had some problems and Marianne and the owners asked me if I would take him on,” Yorke said.
“They knew of my work with stallions. I've got the trick with them - laser treatment. I've pioneered lasers since Fire Oak.
“The laser is magic to patch up injured horses. Lasers are the key, not drugs. That's my forte.
“We're trying to get him back to group status and all going well, I'm trying to have him ready for the Healey Stakes Brisbane during the winter carnival.
“It's been a matter of getting him right again, getting his confidence back.
“He's starting to come into form.
“All going well he can get back to the breeding barn. He's well bred and there is a place for him.”
Returning an out of form stallion into a winner again is a difficult task, especially considering his last win was in France in October 2005, but at Set Alight's second start for Yorke, he saluted over 1200m at Coffs Harbour on January 11.
Set Alight was a last start fourth, beaten 1.7 lengths, behind She Belongs To Us over 1200m at Port Macquarie on January 29.
“He walked out of the barriers and stormed home under 58 kilos,” Yorke said. “His work's been good since. Provided the track isn't too hard he's a good chance at Grafton.”
Yorke will also saddle up Tintaldra (race four), De Coubertin (race five), Prince Cashe (race seven) and Makiling (race nine).
The jockey to follow is apprentice Adam Hyeronimus, currently leading the country apprentices' premiership, and with a top book of rides, several for his master, John Shelton.