Broken Hill trainer eyes winning swan song in Outback Cup

Michael Wayman, pictured here with former galloper Meteor’s Man, will likely saddle up his last last Broken Hill runner on Saturday. Photo: ABC Rural – Saskia Mabin.

Journeyman Michael Wayman is gearing up for what will most likely be his Broken Hill swan song when Velaro contests the 58th annual St Pats Race Club Outback Cup on Saturday. 

The 70-year-old, who has had success at Broken Hill with the likes of Dealers and Uncle Willy over the years, conceded that the winters were getting ‘a bit long’ and that he was over the early starts, and with only one horse in work these days, he doesn’t believe he will be racing at home next year. 

“I haven’t had many runners the last few years, and I had Superhard in the last couple of years, but he got 70kg, and 65kg, and I didn’t bother running him.,” Wayman said. 

“I’ve won the 1400m race several times, and I’ve had a little bit of luck there, but I’ve never won the cup, and it would be nice to win one. 

“This will be close to my last race at Broken Hill; I was going to give it up after Superhard.”

Wayman explained that a $700 purchase kept him going this season, with the veteran trainer rescuing Velaro off the ‘scrapheap’ ahead of Saturday’s $25,000 race.

“It was a rush of blood when I got him,” Wayman laughed. 

“I bid for a couple of horses that night, and got top-dressed or outbid for them, and this old horse was there later in the night.

“I put in a $100 bid and got him for $700; you couldn’t get a hack for that price.”

The eight-year-old veteran of 38 starts for five wins and eight placings has started twice for the Broken Hill trainer, finishing down the track at Port Lincoln on February 3 and Morphettville on February 18, but Wayman believes there was plenty to take out of his last run in town.

“He’s working like a horse that will win a race and he’s sound as a bell; I can’t have him any healthier,” Wayman said. 

“I reckon he is not too bad and second-up in Adelaide the other day, he was only beaten 6.6 lengths in a Benchmark 64 metropolitan race. 

“He came out of barrier 10, and worked all the way, and was seven or eight wide, and coming to the turn and after working his way into it, he was still three or four wide, and third into the straight, and he only weakened the last little bit, and he was entitled to after the run.

“They ran 1.33 (seconds) and change for the mile, and the last 600 in 35 (seconds), so they were running along a bit.”

After drawing gate five and with Murray Henderson in the saddle, Wayman believes his old stager can land a win at home. 

“I think he is going well enough. I galloped him Sunday, and he worked evens for a mile, and ran home the last 600m in 35.65,” Wayman said. 

“He is three weeks between runs and he doesn’t have to travel, and he is a very poor traveller, so it will suit him better being at home. He’s only got to go 10km from my place to the track.”

In has turned out to be a strong field of 12 for the 1600m feature event, and Wayman said the early pace of the race and how the big field contends with the surface will dictate how the race plays out.

“You have to be strong, and the way they go up front, the pace will be on,” Wayman said. 

“It a sandy track, and it really knocks you around. Most horses handle it, but the kick-back is the only thing, and if you are not right on the horse in front of you, it can be pretty tough.

“The other secret is that from the 1000m to the 400m, it’s a 16-foot rise, and if you want to ride them up the hill, you can bring yourself undone.” 

Murray Henderson knows how to ride a winner at Broken Hill, and Wayman is confident his man will give Velaro the best possible chance. 

“He is an older, senior rider at 58 years of age, and he knows to keep his head out of the dirt, even if it means you are riding three-wide,” Wayman said. 

“He knows what he is doing; he’s rode three Silver City cups and two St Patrick’s (Outback) Cups, and he wants to even it up on Saturday.”

It’s always a big weekend for Broken Hill, with the Broken Hill Harness Racing Club hosting their seven-race program on Friday night, which is headlined by the Rocky Baker Memorial Pacing Cup, before Saturday’s eight-race non-TAB program hosted by the St Pats Race Club.  

“We have the trots tonight, the races tomorrow, and it’s our major event of the year really,” Wayman said. 

“We might get 2000 or 3000 to the races; maybe more, but it’s a good couple of days.”

For more on the program click here and for full fields click here.