Patience has paid dividends for the connections of New Zealand-bred gelding Smokin’ Romans.
The son of Ghibellines will start a pre-post favourite for the Gr.1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on Saturday, for which he is a $4 prospect with TAB bookmakers.
Smokin’ Romans, who is out of multiple Group Three winner Inferno, was bred by White Robe Lodge principals Brian and Lorraine Anderton whose modus operandi has been to breed stayers that can take a bit of time.
In a world demanding instant gratification, their thinking hasn’t been adopted by many.
However, connections of trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace have found their little pot of gold at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island with the Anderton’s breed.
It has been a lucrative past-time sourcing staying and jumping prospects from the farm and the stable has previously been rewarded through the likes of top jumper Ablaze.
Smokin’ Romans has joined that list of graduates and his connections have been willing to play the long game with the six-year-old.
“He was always a very immature horse physically and mentally,” Eustace told SEN’s Giddyup.
“What is a fair representation of the ability he was going to have was when he won his first two starts, and we were very surprised that he would do that.
“He was clearly just doing that on raw ability, albeit at a lower level. Horses who do that, who are bred to be at their best now (older horses) and most horses don’t get the opportunity to do that.
“I wouldn’t say we are in a rush as trainers, but the industry as a whole, if they are not showing enough at three then they are dismissed as horses that are not worth persevering with, and certainly by four if they are not showing anything then they might have to go elsewhere.”
A highly-strung younger horse, Maher and Eustace elected to take their time with the gelding and give him variety in both his work and location.
“His mental state is probably what was so immature,” Eustace said. “He was a very quirky horse. He is not now, but he spent a lot of time at Ballarat and he would turn up to the races covered in sweat, just worried about what was going to happen. Although what was going to happen was not worrying him in any way and he was running well and winning.
“Repetition and preps, and going in and out of the stable really helped that. Going down to the beach and having a preparation down at the beach with the change in scenery has taken him to another level.
“He is now a relaxed horse and is a great product of the system.”
While the heavy track conditions hold some concerns for his trainers on Saturday, they have taken some confidence from his performance on the surface when winning the Gr.3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield last month.
“I think it is fair to say that he is probably not as effective on it, but we would have said that prior to this prep and he was very good in the Naturalism,” Eustace said.
“His form on soft ground previously was not as good, but I think that has put that to bed. “The weight (51.5kg) is clearly in his favour with the perfect draw (5).”
Smokin’ Romans has won nine of his 23 starts, including the Gr.1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at his most recent start.