THEY say good things come to those who wait and no trainer – Bart Cummings included – is more patient than Warwick Farm conditioner Matthew Smith.
Maybe he learned from the master when he worked under Cummings at Leilani Lodge but now as a Group 1 trainer in his own right, Smith’s softly-softly approach to five-year-old gelding Happy Valley is starting to bear fruit.
This hulking son of Vinery resident Dubleo led throughout to score an easy and predictable debut win at Goulburn in a 1000m Maiden on Monday at threes-on in the old scale.
His presence there even enticed champion jockey Hugh Bowman to make the three-hour trip from Sydney for no more than a minutes work.
“There wasn’t one big issue just little bits and pieces with his legs and he’s quite immature,” Smith said explaining Happy Valley’s long lead-in to his debut.
“He is a big galloping horse and a horse like him, it just puts pressure on his legs so we were forced to take our time and let him mature fully before I was able to train him properly.
“We also tried for a long time to keep him a colt but it just turned out that with his size and strength we just weren’t able to do that so he was gelded late and that held him up for a little bit longer.
“Hugh’s always liked him and was keen to go to Goulburn. I’ve always had a good opinion of the horse myself and hopefully he can just go on with it now and win some city races.”
Smith said he was likely to nominate Happy Valley for a class one race again over 1000m at Gosford next Thursday.
“I think he’ll go through the grades and learn more about racing. At this stage he really doesn’t have a real good idea about it. He needs to learn about how to use himself a bit more before I bring him to town,” Smith said.
“I think when he relaxes he’ll run a mile and he’s pedigree says he’ll get 2000m.”
Happy Valley’s outstanding Goulburn win was followed just a day later by another winner for Vinery Stud resident Dubleo.
The Rodney Ollerton trained Double Five scored his second win in as many starts when saluting at his home track at Scone on Tuesday.
Dubleo is a stallion perfectly placed for a spike in winners in the coming season given that it is only in recent years that his books have returned any substantial number of foals.
In the 2009 season, Dubleo had just 30 live foals representing him while the very next year that number had trebled to 90 as good racetrack results attracted a deservedly large book.
“Despite these small early numbers Dubleo has a consistent winners-to-runners of 62 percent and has proven more than capable of getting winners even at Stakes level.
“He’ proven to be both reliable and profitable for our clients” Vinery Stud’s Conor Phelan said.