‘Serious horse’ decimates rivals in Mudgee Cup

The Kris Lees-trained Tavi Time is an impressive horse and has qualified for the $3 million Big Dance following Friday’s win in the $75,000 Mudgee Cup. Image – Bradley Photos.

Tongues wagged following Friday’s $75,000 Mudgee Cup, and for a good reason, with punters far and wide impressed by Tavi Time’s one-act affair in the $3 million Big Dance qualifier.

Trained by Kris Lees, the Newcastle galloper had Aaron Bullock in the saddle, and the pair raced a little worse than midfield in the 1600m event. 

When called upon by Bullock, Tavi Time ($1.65) unleashed in front of a big Mudgee crowd, lengthening down the home straight to win by six-and-a-half lengths from the Barbara Joseph, Paul and Matt Jones-trained Belleistic Kids (Quayde Krogh, $11) while in third and seven lengths back was the Annabel Neasham-trained Watadeel (Braith Nock, $3.90).

“It just went to script, didn’t it? It was perfect,” stable representative Clinton Ridley said after the race. 

“It was a great ride, and he put them away pretty easy. He’s got plenty of ability, and Kris will give him every opportunity, and he’ll time it right (for the Big Dance).”

Tavi Times is an impressive specimen, and he is building a remarkable record, starting eight times for five wins, with the Tavistock gelding winning back-to-back races at Taree earlier this year before a good win at Canterbury. 

Following a 30-week spell, the four-year-old caught the eye at Newcastle last month, winning by the best part of three lengths in the 1600m Benchmark 78 Handicap at Newcastle’s metropolitan meeting. 

Tavi Times was all-class at Mudgee, and Bullock believes the horse is destined for bigger things. 

“He’s a really good horse. I won on him last prep before he had a setback, but he definitely has ability this horse and above-average ability,” Bullock said.  

“I remember saying to Kris that day that he was rushing a little bit and still learning his trade, and I said if he learns to race, he will be a really good horse.”

Bullock gave the up-and-comer a soft run, with the leading jockey suggesting plenty was left in the tank as they cruised to an easy victory.

“I was quite taken with him today; he jumped well, came back under me, and listened to everything I asked him to do,” Bullock said. 

“I know he is a horse when you ask him to come forward up under you, he does, and from the 500m to the line, I still had gears on the line; he’s a serious horse, and he’s in for a bright future.”

Lees will now be left with the task of having Tavi Time ready for the 2024 Big Dance, with the $3 million event set to be run and won on the first Tuesday in November. 

“He’s tall and got the size, and he doesn’t have that frame yet, but he doesn’t need to because he’s got an engine,” Bullock said. 

“They’ve got him in the Big Dance now, so Kris has a long time to play with him a little bit, and he is a master of getting them right on the big day.

“He is a horse that can win it; I’ve got no doubt about that.”

Aaron Bullock enjoyed a big day at Mudgee following a triumphant return to the saddle, winning the $50,000 Mudgee Cup Day Sprint (1200m) on the Cody Morgan-trained Seguso ($2.60).