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Splashing back to best form for Townsville gelding

29 July 2021

16f8516b-0972-432c-824d-8bde1d23fec5.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

It was a proud moment for all involved to see comeback gelding Simply Splashing back on a racetrack last week and now the team behind him have Cleveland Bay Handicap ambitions next month.

The well-travelled son of Testa Rossa spent the best part of 16 months off the racing scene, recovering from a knee operation, before making his return at Townsville’s Cluden Park last Thursday afternoon.

Purchased by Ingham’s Mat Adornetto, a former trainer himself, specifically for the Cleveland Bay Handicap of 2020 – the team have had to bide their time and take it slow and steady, building the horse back up slowly, with the seven-year-old.

Simply Splashing has been through several different trainers over the years before Adornetto selected Townsville’s Joanna Hassett for his northern campaign as the Wulguru trainer is known for her patience and using swimming to rehab her gallopers.

In his first run since April of last year, Simply Splashing snuck up the Cluden Park fence to hit the line nicely and now looks towards Saturday’s $30,000 Open Handicap over 1200 metres.

“It was a really proud moment to see him get back to the track the other day because you never know how they are going to come back after something like that, especially as he has a bit of age on him now, as well,” Hassett said.

“He had to go through a vigorous vet check to get passed to race again.

“In his mind, he is definitely still 100 per cent a racehorse, he wants to get out there, be professional and get the job done.

“We have had to take him slow and build him up, but it was hard because it is similar to an older person, I guess, they are right in the mind but their body can feel the aches and pains.”

According to Hassett, owner Adornetto has been patient and supportive with her work to bring his gelding back to the races after he paid a “fair amount of money” for Simply Splashing to be a Cleveland Bay contender last year.

The winner of seven career races from 38 starts spelled at Lawrence Reys’ property at Gordonvale before making his way back to Townsville.

GettyImages-668974310.jpgHassett, who has five horses in work – three of which who will go around on Saturday at her home track, is planning to press on to next Saturday’s time-honoured $100,000 Cleveland Bay Handicap on Townsville Cup day following Simply Splashing’s upcoming run.

“I would love for it all to pay off for the owner because it has been a long haul,” Hassett said.

“It is a big ask for the horse to look to next Saturday’s Cleveland Bay but he got home so well last-start over 1000 metres, which is a distance he has not raced at before.

“It was a great run last start and I would never back a horse up after 16 months off but he has pulled up so well.

“He needed that run if we want to get to the Cleveland Bay, it is going to be a big ask but we will give it a crack.”

The team behind Simply Splashing are not putting all their eggs in the Cleveland Bay basket, having one eye on the Cairns Newmarket in the coming weeks further north up the Bruce Highway during the 2021 TAB Northern Queensland Winter Racing Carnival.

Meanwhile, Innisfail trainer Stephen Potiris has Cup plans with stable newcomer Play Me Now.

Play Me Now will have his second start in Queensland this Saturday in the 2000 metre Open Handicap on Saturday at Townsville, aiming towards the upcoming provincial and country Cups in the north this year.

The five-year-old bay gelding is a Moonee Valley winner earlier in his career and is second-up on Saturday.

“He goes good,” Potiris said.

“His first-up run here was good when he finished fifth not long after coming up from Melbourne. He will be fitter this week and better for the run. He stays, which is the main thing.”