By Duane Ranger
Ian Gurney’s Chambers Flat team is low-flying at present, and the 57-year-old puts a lot of his recent success down to some advice he was given two years ago.
“I’ve changed their work around. I don’t work them so hard in this hot heat, and I swim them more. There’s a lot of slow jogging work.
“It all stems from some advice Darrel Graham gave in 2017. He said as horses got older they encountered more issues, and he told me the best thing to do was back off them more – especially in stifling heat.
“He told me the hardest thing for me to do would be back off, but I took the plunge, and on hindsight it has worked a treat. Long slow miles and swimming – that’s it,” Gurney said.
“The older horses especially love it. Some just can’t cop the heat. There’s no need to drill them at their age. Very sound advice,” he stressed.
Gurney, who works a team of 14, said Mach Alert was a prime example of not being over-trained. He is one of three Gurney trainees lining up in the feature event (R6) tomorrow night – the $21,000 Christmas Cup.
“He’s not only the best in my stable, but he’s also now 11 and going as good as he ever has. He’s won 36 races and more than $600,000 in purses.
“He’s getting up there with Anonnova (55 wins and $961,164) . He was an absolute pleasure to train. The best I’ve had. He’s 13 now and was tough as old boots.
“I still work him 20 minutes each day to keep the fat off him. He was an absolute freak,” Gurney said.
Gurney has trained four winners, eight placings, and seven fourths from 38 Albion Park starts this season. He said he never really set goals, except wanting to win the next race his horse lined up in.
“I’ve got some nice chances on Saturday night. I think Sparkling Cullect (R6), and Clarkey (R8) are both nice place bets. They can both win.”
Gurney has eight standardbreds lining up at ‘The Creek’ tomorrow night. His comments (with driver, draw, form, and opening odds) are:
Race 2: The Adam Sanderson driven MUCH BETTOR (5) – 01851 - $6 second favourite: “Bettor’s Delight 4-year-old gelding, who is only a little 14 hands fella. Robbie Morris’s horse (Bellachulish) will be tough to beat. Adam drives my one all the time and it’s up to him whether he takes a sit or leads early. He won well last start and is now starting to get somewhere near his best. Another run or two and he will be in peak condition. He can certainly figure in this. Definite place chance.”
Race 3: The Kelli Dawson driven THATS HOW WEROLL (4) – 05430 - $6.50 fourth favourite. “He is the unluckiest horse I’ve ever trained in my life. He’s got as much ability as most who I have put a gig on, but he’s either drawn poorly, been driven badly, or has copped a bad draw. He always seems to be near last and asked to come around them. Nothing seems to change with him. I work him at home with Mach Alert and he goes as good as him. Hopefully on Saturday he will be in the death or near the lead. He’s due a change of luck.”
Race 4: The Adam Richardson driven JUST DEAL IT (9) – 76532 - $3.80 favourite and Race 5 (1) - $26. “American Ideal mare, who is a dual acceptor. She will probably line up in the mares’ race (R5 – Kelli Dawson) if there’s a scratching. The bigger races take precedence. She’s a half-sister to Mach Alert, who is still a big baby and has much to learn. She’s only had 19 starts, but she’s a nice little horse, who can run a place here, and in the big mares races in the future.”
Race 4: The Adam Richardson driven SMOOTH SHOWGIRL (10) – 12146 - $4.50 second favourite: “Quality 8-year-old Art Major mare, who has won two of her last five starts, and despite the draw can win here. She follows out the Morris runner, and last start winner, Gotta Be Downtown. She should be right in the mix here. Nice winner here on November 23 over the longer distance.”
Race 6: The Adam Richardson driven SPARKLING CULLECT (1) – 21602 - $9. “Nine-year-old, who can get some of this from the economical draw. She is race fit and was a nice second behind Seeuinnashville from gate five here last week. Clintal Do (2) will be hard to beat, but all three of my runners in this will thrive on the longer (2,680m) distance. Others might struggle over the trip - mine won’t.”
Race 6: The Kelli Dawson driven MACH ALERT (3) – 52413 - $3.80 favourite, who should run a nice race here. I think he can at least place. He’s going as good as he ever was – perhaps 80 to 90 percent of what he was when he was half his age and at his peak. If he doesn’t lead he should be close up. Luck will play a part.”
Race 6: The Chris Geary drive MYMASTERCRAFTSMAN (11) – 22151 - $14. “He’s an ultra consistent gelding who is by a good sire (Bettors Delight). Placed or won in four of his last five starts, and even from the draw can’t be written off here.
Race 8: The Adam Richardson driven CLARKEY (8) – 75375 - $17. “He’s drawn one on the second row behind one of the favourites Seeuinnashville ($4). If that pacer does lead and we get the trail, then I’d rate him a 50-50 chance of getting past him in the lane. He’s certainly good enough to out-muscle him. He has a nice sprint and can even get some of it if we end up three-deep on the markers. He took a seat last week and finished fifth. I think he can at least place here.”