Trainer Ben Foote was left chuckling to himself after receiving a text post-race from the co-owners of impressive debutant Loosespender, who overcame a torrid run in-transit to take out the opening event at Hawera on Saturday.
The strapping grey son of Turn Me Loose made light of sitting three and four wide during the running for rider Kozzi Asano, as he refused to yield in the home straight to claim victory by a head from fellow Cambridge visitor Styx.
Foote had not known what to think going into the race as his charge had shown him enough in trackwork to think he had good ability, but three unplaced runs at the trials had dented that confidence somewhat.
He had told the ownership group not to expect too much and just hope to see Loosespender running on, but those thoughts were well and truly bettered with the dogged performance.
“To be honest if you had asked me at the start of the day whether he was a winning chance, I would have said no,” Foote said.
“I had told his owners that he would improve from the run and it would be good to see him making up ground, but when I saw him so wide during the race, I pretty much gave up on that happening.
“He just kept coming and coming and stuck his head out like a good horse which was great to see.
“As soon as the race was over I got a text from the boys at Upper Bloodstock and all it had on it was a whole heap of emojis with surprised looks on their faces.”
Purchased by Andy Lau and Ross Lao of Upper Bloodstock for $60,000 out of the Beckam Equine Book 2 draft at Karaka in 2021, Loosespender is raced by the pair along with Foote and the many members of the Stride Racing syndicate.
“I do a lot of work with the Upper Bloodstock guys and early on they nearly gave up on this one as he didn’t really show too much,” Foote said.
“I just had it in the back of my mind he was going to be so much better with some time on him and going over more ground, so I told them to stick with him.
“He really is just a bit dumb and immature, but I think he definitely has an engine under the hood based on what we saw today.
“I very nearly threw in a Derby nomination for him, but didn’t, which could have been a mistake in hindsight if he does come on, but we will have to be patient with him as he still has a lot of maturing to do.”
Foote is now counting down the days to January 1 where he will line up exciting sprinter Babylon Berlin in the Gr.1 Sistema Railway (1200m) at Te Rapa off the back of a slick 1000m trial win at Matamata on Friday.
“She (Babylon Berlin) is spot on for the Railway and that trial will have topped her off nicely,” he said.
“Kozzi didn’t move a muscle on her and she went to the line under a stranglehold.
“I know it is a wonderful field she will face, but I have always said she is up to Group One level and I couldn’t have her any better for the race.”
TAB Bookmakers have Babylon Berlin as the $10 fifth favourite for the Railway on the Fixed Odds book, which is headed up by Levante ($3), after last year’s runner-up in the race also impressed when chasing home Babylon Berlin in Friday’s trial.