By Duane Ranger
A promising trotter who last raced for the powerful Kiwi training duo of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen impressed at the Albion Park Trials yesterday (Tuesday).
The now Brad Connelly-trained Musculus, bled as a $1.10 favourite (sixth) in his only Australian start at Redcliffe on August 22 last year. He was put aside for three months and has now come back big and strong.
After breaking and finishing a lonely last in a standing start trial at Albion Park on February 15, the five-year-old Muscle Mass gelding proved his worth at the same venue yesterday.
"I asked Nathan (Dawson - driver) to give him a quiet run, because we now know he's a bleeder and he does have a tendency to break,” Connelly said.
"But yesterday he was safe and trotted well and when Nathan came back he said he felt good all the way - and did it easy. That is encouraging because I know Mark and Natalie wouldn't have taken him on if he wasn't much.”
Musculus bobbled slightly at the start from gate four, but recovered quickly to lead going out of the home straight the first time.
Dawson then controlled all the pace in front to beat his four opponents by 6.5m and 1.6m respectively. His winning time for the 2,138 stand was 2:44 even with a 2:03.4 mile rate.
Musculus's sections were 29.8, 31.7, 30, and 29.4.
“I’m delighted with the way he has bounced back. He trots along nicely and should progress his way through the grades to open company,” Connelly said.
“In saying that I still don’t think he’s as good as his stablemate, Needle, who is also a New Zealand-bred trotter.”
Musculus was originally trained by Philip Iggo in Canterbury before Purdon and Rasmussen took him on for his last two starts in New Zealand.
He finished second for them first up and then he broke in the 4yo (ruby) Jewels Final at Cambridge Raceway on June 2. That's when he went on the market," Connelly said.
Musculus had 20 starts in New Zealand for three wins and 11 placings. He banked just over $50,000 in stakes. His mother Sheez Speedy (by Sundon) won six races for master Templeton trainer, Peter Jones.
Musculus, who was exported from New Zealand on June 15 last year, is the last of Sheez Speedy’s 10 foals.
His best performance came at Addington Raceway on March 23 last year when he was too good for his 12 opponents bolting away to with a $20,000 Haras des Trotteurs 3yo and over Trot by more than five lengths.
"Jeroen (Nieuwenburg) bought him. He owns most of the horses in my stable. I’m currently working 10 and Needle would be the best of them,” Connelly said.
“But I have a bit of an opinion of this fella. If he does what he’s capable of then he could be right up there in my top couple.”
The 58-year-old, who got his trainer’s licence before he was 20, said Musculus would line up at Albion Park on Tuesday week.
“If we can stay on top of his bleeding then I think he has the potential to go to the top class. He did it easy yesterday without being touched. That was encouraging,” the Tamborine Village horseman said.
For the record Musculus is Latin for muscle.
Musculus winning at yesterday’s trial: http://www.harness.org.au/racing/fields/race-fields/?mc=AP120319N