WEARY, the reluctant racehorse, resurrected his race career with a career-best win at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Trainer Chris Waller made particular mention of Weary’s quirky nature being softened by the gelding’s new friendship with the stable pony, while jockey Tommy Berry reckoned there might have been some divine intervention after his Group 2 $200,000 Expressway Stakes (1200m).
Waller was despairing when the talented Weary “did not turn up” to race last spring campaign so the trainer had to resort to some unusual methods to try and coax the talented former English galloper back to form.
“Weary has given us a few headaches,’’ Sydney’s premier trainer said.
“I thought he was a genuine Epsom horse or even a Cox Plate horse last spring but he didn’t find anything like best form.
“He’s actually a good horse to have around the stable, he’s not a problem, but he has a quirky nature and at trackwork every morning he doesn’t want to gallop.
“I’ve never had one like him as most of our horses enjoy trackwork as we are not hard on them.
“So, we started using a pony with him and it has helped to settle him down.
“He still has his moments but his quirks were more pronounced last spring.’’
In a recent barrier trial, Weary showed some of the form which enabled him to run third as favourite in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile last year and the stable was confident of a competitive showing on Saturday.
But when Driefontein dashed clear in the straight, Berry never felt Weary was a winning chance — until the last 100m.
Berry said he was surprised how powerfully Weary finished and said the win meant a lot to him as his late twin brother, Nathan, often rode for the horse’s owners, Geoff and Mary Grimish.
“Nathan might have helped us out a bit there — he was great friends of the Grimish’s,’’ Tommy Berry said.
“Weary was going to run fourth or fifth then in the last 100m he found a gear that I never thought he had.
“Mr Waller deserves a lot of the credit as he tipped Weary out when the horse was not going good over the spring and has found the key to him.
“It showed in Weary’s trial. Mr Waller’s horses don’t usually trial that well but he went great under a hold.’’
In a thrilling finish, Weary ($7) unleashed a powerful finish to run down Driefontein ($5.50) to win by a short head, with Territory ($14) a length away third.
Favourite Panzer Division ($4.40) was doing his best work on the line to run fourth while Waller’s other runners, Bagman (seventh), Beaten Up (eighth), Boban (ninth) and Hawkspur (10th) finished at the back end of the field.
Waller said his five Expressway Stakes runners are now likely to clash again in the Group 2 $250,000 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick in two weeks.
Weary will be given the chance to become the third to complete the Expressway Stakes-Apollo Stakes double in four years after Rain Affair (2012) and Appearance (2014).
“Weary was very good and I thought Bagman and Beaten Up were the runs of the race — they went outstanding. I thought Boban was a bit weak but I want to go home and assess his run, while Hawkspur was just a bit soft today.’’
Blake Shinn, rider of Driefontein, had every right to feel his mare was going to win the race.
“She just got softened up in the middle stages which just told in the last 50m,’’ Shinn said. “It was such a game effort, she gave her all.”
Territory also produced a career-best effort to finish third in the weight-for-age sprint.
“It was a great run,’’ jockey Sam Clipperton said. “He’s a very genuine horse and that field was full of great horses but he’s run his usual honest race.’’
Panzer Division’s rider James McDonald felt the three-year-old was unsuited by the 1200m dash.
“He couldn’t keep up early, he got a fair way back but I thought he ran home well,’’ McDonald said. “He’s a nice colt.’’