John Gamble looks to have a handy type in the form of Blaazay after the six-year-old ran a very good second to Philipsburg in the 1400m Class Three TAB Highway Handicap at Kembla Grange earlier this month.
This city placing followed back-to-back wins at Moruya, with the Skilled gelding showcasing ability well above country grade, but Gamble, a local to Moruya, will look to take on Friday’s Batemans Bay Cup instead of looking for challenges elsewhere.
“We will go to Moruya. I just like to support the local racing and I enjoy going to the country races more so than the city races,” Gamble said.
“You have to get a gauge on how your horse is going, which is why we went to Kembla Grange, and he is going well but we will look to race him locally.”
The lightly raced six-year-old has won three times from 10 starts, but injury cruelled a promising career, with his trainer explaining that the smart galloper had lost a year of ‘good racing’ before returning in scintillating form.
“This bloke, he had 12 months off. He was mucking around and punched a hole in his flexor tendon,” Gamble said.
“You always hold your breath when they run after a tendon injury, but he is going okay now.
“He probably missed out on 12 months of good racing, but he has turned out to be a better horse. He is a bit quirky, and the 12 months helped him mentally; I did a lot of riding on him, and he is better for sure.”
Gamble received some good advice along the way, with the likes of Glenn Boss and Jeff Penza having ridden Blaazay – the latter of the two even helping pick up a slight problem.
“He is a beautiful horse to ride. Glenn Boss said he was like driving a limousine after his run at Kembla,” Gamble laughed.
“I have been fortunate to get good feedback and contributions from our track rider and Jeff Penza, which has helped a lot.
“About three starts ago, Jeff said he was not right, and I had to do a bit of fiddling with his back end and that is the feedback you need from those top-class jockeys.
“I called in an old chiro bloke I’ve used for years, and he looked at him, worked out he had a problem and manipulated him, and it has made a massive difference.”
Now going as good as ever, Blaazay will chase feature race success and his trainer is no stranger to the Batemans Bay Cup either, winning the 2008 edition with Sachrasee
“I had a good mare that won the Batemans Bay Cup, her name was Sachrasee,” Gamble said.
“It’s a good little race and I’m excited to have another one in it.”
Nick Heywood has been booked for the ride, and after being allotted 61kg and drawing gate 9, connections might need some luck in the $35,000 feature race over the 1650m journey.
Additionally, Blaazay will have to contend with some tough country horses, and while January’s Moruya Cup and other feature country cups were in Gamble’s peripheral vision, the Moruya trainer was just trying to take it ‘one race at a time’.
“I don’t think that far ahead. It would be nice to do it, but we must take it one race at a time. We don’t want to count our chickens because of the way things can go in racing,” Gamble said.
As far as his chances of winning the Batemans Bay Cup, Gamble was confident, but he was the first to admit it was a massive step up in class compared to his most recent Moruya victories.
“I think we can go in there knowing on paper he is in good form and that speaks volumes and he worked brilliantly this morning (Tuesday),” Gamble said.
“When I had a glance at the nominations last night, there weren’t a lot of last start winners and last start and previous start placings, so his form reads well.
“I just wanted to see if he could measure up to the better bush horses. It gives you a fairly good gauge on where you can go with a horse, because in these cup races, there’s always a couple of hard heads and they can be difficult to get over and if your horse has a bit of ability, they can beat those horses and move on to the next race.”
If Blaazay continues on his upwards trajectory, the sky could be the limit, and a race like the South East Country Championship qualifier early next year could be on the cards.
“That would be a bit of a pipe dream, but it would be lovely,” Gamble said.
“Like I said, we will take it one race at a time. He is a lot of fun and a good solid home bred horse.
“We don’t go to the sales and training something that you’ve bred is the most satisfying thing about it and we will continue to have some fun with him.”
The Batemans Bay Cup is race seven on an eight-race Showcase Program at Moruya.
Punters and racing fans can click here for full fields and although crowds are not allowed on course, racing kicks off at 1pm and supporters are encouraged to have a punt and support the Moruya Jockey Club’s meeting.