PAUL Jones had double the reason to smile at Randwick on Saturday as Mercurial Lad not only won but he also went straight.
The untapped three-year-old ran off the track at his past two starts at Canberra and Goulburn and still won but many felt his wayward tendencies would hinder his prospects in Saturday’s TAB Highway Handicap (1200m).
But the addition of a near-side blinker and pacifiers did the trick as Mercurial Lad went straight as a die down the Randwick straight to win by one length.
“He doesn’t do it in trackwork and I just can’t explain it,” Jones said about the horse’s erratic behaviour. “On race day he spots things in front of him and ducks away from them. The pacifiers (helped) and we added the one eye blinker that I think was probably the key gear (change).”
Co-trainer Jones is now considering throwing Mercurial Lad in the deep end this campaign.
“Obviously we can aim pretty high but we will go away and have a think about it,” he said. “He is still a three-year-old and there are Guineas races like Hawkesbury and Scone (coming up).
“He is bred to go a mile to 2000m so if we can harness that speed over a bit of ground it will be happy days.”
Underrated hoop Brodie Loy celebrated his first Sydney winner this season and deserves plenty of credit for helping iron out Mercurial Lad’s issues.
“He went straight and he was good as gold (today),” he said “He loves heavy tracks and that takes the other horses a couple of lengths back to him.
“I don’t know whether he will measure up in a Hawkesbury Guineas and it’s a big step up but if he keeps improving he will turn into a nice horse.”
Colletts shine like diamonds
JASON Collett doubted whether he got there but the photo finish went in his favour as he piloted Untamed Diamond to victory for his father Richard at Randwick on Saturday.
Untamed Diamond won yesterday’s IGA Liquor Benchmark 81 Handicap (1200m) by a nose but Collett wasn’t certain she had got there in time.
“I was a bit worried because her head didn’t feel down to me on the line and I questioned it,” he said. “Usually in a tight finish I have some idea but today I wasn’t sure.”
Collett said it was extra special to win a race at Randwick for his father Richard, who is based in New Zealand but has a satellite stable at Warwick Farm.
“It always is, anything to do with family is,” the talented jockey said.
Saturday marked Untamed Diamond’s first run in two months and Richard is upbeat there is more in store for her in the coming months.
“She has had a good prep and she trialled well the other day,” Richard said. “The testiness of the ground was the only thing that worried us. She was at a rating level in New Zealand where she was hard to place and she came across earlier last autumn.
“She has been here 12 months and she won at Canterbury on a Wednesday.”
Sweet Serendipity led and looked home only to be claimed by Untamed Diamond in the last stride.
Originally published as Lad ditches wayward ways to triumph
SOURCE: newsnow sport