Unbeaten Braidwood galloper eyes Highway riches

The Luke Clarke trained Testator Silens winning at Moruya. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Testator Silens will make his city debut on Saturday when contesting the 1200m Class Three TAB Highway Handicap at Rosehill Gardens. 

The unbeaten Braidwood galloper is prepared by Luke Clarke, and to date, he has been ultra-impressive.

The four-year-old recorded his maiden win at Moruya back in May when lobbing in front and running away for a comfortable two-length victory over the 1010m journey. 

The Star Witness gelding was then spelled for 18 weeks before returning at Wagga last month, again winning comfortably when coming from off the early leader’s back to beat recent Wagga winner, Fifty Carrots, by almost a length in the 1000m Class One Handicap. 

According to his trainer, Testator Silens should only improve on his two wins.

“He has been good. He is still learning the caper and how to race but everything he does has been really good,” Clarke said.

“In his first race, he did it his way out in front and in his second start, he sat of the leader and hit the line with his ears pricked.

“He is still green but he is going well and only getting better.”

Leading into Saturday’s race, Clarke couldn’t be happier with his galloper’s work.

“He is going well enough for a race like this. I did accept for the TAB Highway on Everest day, but he drew wide and I didn’t bother taking him,” Clarke said. 

“Since then, he has come on even more. After his jump out the other day, Tash Winton got off him and was really happy with him.” 

Testator Silens will run into some handy country types in Saturday’s TAB Highway, and Clarke admitted it would be a good test to see where his galloper stands.

“Being able to go to some TAB Highways and to chase some money is good. 

“He will get to run against some more experienced horses, and I think he will be up to it.”

While Testator Silens looks a progressive type destined for bigger things, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Jacob Park Thoroughbreds bred and owned galloper, with the gelding trained by Joseph Pride and Keith Dryden before finding his home in Braidwood.

“He was bred out at Hall near Murrumbateman by Danny McMillan,” Clarke said.  

“He bred him and he has a few shares in horses, like Handle The Truth, and I’ve known Danny my whole life and I did a lot of breaking in for him. 

“This horse wasn’t easy to get going either. He was at Joe Pride’s and Keith Dryden’s before he got here but it was too busy a lifestyle for him in those stables.”

Clarke believes his laidback set-up suits the talented galloper down to the ground.

“I’ve only got 10 in work on our farm about 20km south of Braidwood,” Clarke said. 

“It suits him here and they are all happy here, just spending time in their day yards.

“It’s like they’re not even in work. It’s a quiet environment. They get plenty of sunshine, they relax and it suits them and me.”

Despite the pairs laidback nature, Clarke and Testator Silens are eyeing bigger targets than Saturday’s TAB Highway, with the South East Country Championships heat a potential target next year. 

“As a lightly raced horse, I think he will be a nice 1400m horse. I will try and get towards the Country Championships with him,” Clarke said. 

“He is a big strong horse and every bit of work with him has been good and he is only going to improve.”

Regardless of where he draws in Saturday’s country feature, the Braidwood galloper will be in action, with Clarke already booking the services of Jean Van Overmeire.

“I’ve got Jean Van Overmeire booked. I wanted to keep Kayla Nisbet on him but she is not allowed to ride in town yet but he is an easy horse to ride and he drops 4.5 kg kilos on his last run,” Clarke said. 

 “I’m not really worried about the draw. I will go regardless, and if we draw a nice gate, we will try and put him up on the speed, but if he draws wide, we will just ride him a little more quietly. 

“At the end of the day, I am looking forward to seeing how he measures up against those older and more experienced horses.”