By Isaac Murphy
“The plan’s on track”, those were trainers Mick Patterson’s first words when What About It upset a gun field in the Free For All 710 a fortnight ago at Albion Park, the Northern New South Wales trainer had earmarked the trip for his bitch months ago and will look to follow his blueprint as she lines up in the Group One Gold Cup heats Thursday night.
“It was probably three months ago I made the decision the 520 wasn’t for her anymore,” Patterson said.
“She was too slow early getting knocked around and not getting a chance to use the motor we knew she had.”
“It had come to a point where I needed to make a decision on her future and it wasn’t easy because sometimes the staying trips can break even the strongest 520 dogs, but we made the call and committed to it and now she’s in the heats of a Group One.”
The bitch rolled the likes of Bago Bye Bye, Rasheda and other class runners leading all the way in her last start win, but with the box draw flipped and a Group field What About It needs a few things to go her way.
“I was disappointed when the draw came out (8), I really wanted to be in close where she could find the rail feel confident and get into it,” he said.
“There are a number of ways it could play out, I’d love her to lead but don’t want her to burn too much petrol to get there from the eight, if we can get the drop on Bago Bye Bye she’s shown she can match motors with him late.”
“She’s very inexperienced but that can be a good thing, if she gets to the lead she might keep on running, she doesn’t know she’s up against Group One Winners.”
Patterson knew What About It had ability in spades from day one, it was all about maximising it, something she will have to do against Group One winning stayers in Boom Down and Bago Bye Bye.
“I went to the 600 with her first and while a couple of bad box draws got her early there was no problem with the trip and once she got used to the corner start at Albion she started winning in sub thirty-five second time,” Patterson said.
“We had the luxury on the red which really helped her beat a top field last start and I’m not knocking those dogs, but this is a Group One field, there are some superstars in there.”
“She’s only had the two seven hundreds, I probably would have liked one or two more before this week but she’s in a place where she’s only going to keep improving.”
It is hard to question Patterson’s stick to the plan mantra as the trainer enjoyed incredible success with He Knows Uno who won anywhere from 520 to 700 plus in his storied career.
“I was lucky enough to have what I consider a champion in He Knows Uno who was on the podium in Group races twenty-three times, winning a Brisbane Cup over the 520 and Gold Cup over the 710, so I knew a little bit about changing distances but they’re very different animals,” he said.
“He Knows Uno was always very aggressive in his approach at home or race day where What About It is timid and needs a bit of nurturing which is not a bad thing, I just have to adjust my training.”
“I think a misconception when stepping them up is that you’ve got to train them much harder, you don’t if their going to stay they’ll stay.”
At just on three years old What About It has plenty of racing left in her legs and Patterson is looking forward to testing her against the best.
“I’m pretty confident she’s all but made the grade as a potential Group stayer and as I said earlier it’s only her third start at the trip, so I’m pretty excited for what the next six months hold,” he said.
“I’m blessed to have another class stayer back in the kennel, they’re few are far between, I’ve been lucky enough to train one earlier in my career and while she won’t reach, He Knows Uno’s heights she’s got something about her.”
“Hopefully she’ll be on the stayers circuit for the next year and I’ll get the opportunity to race at some tracks and catch up with some people I haven’t seen for many years.”
The clean winded front runner may be a product of her environment spending her days off at Patterson’s Iluka property and relishing her beach runs.”
“You make use of what you’ve got, I don’t have a straight track, but I’ve got the beach,” Patterson said.
“I go down early and work the dogs, it’s a pretty special part of the world and the dogs seem to thrive on it, my thirty-year tenure won’t be up anytime soon.”