By Jordan Gerrans
Almost two weeks of mustering has completely turned around the attitude and fortunes on the track of former problem child Heart Vandelay.
The five-year-old gelding has done much of his racing with Deagon trainer Jason Edwards.
But, in July of last year, he was purchased by former Edwards track work rider Sharryn Livingstone, who also now trains out of Deagon herself.
After watching on for around four years as Heart Vandelay tipped off many a track work rider, once the bay was under the full ownership of Livingstone, she decided to try something different with the son of Falvelon.
The duo went mustering for ten days so Heart Vandelay could act and feel like a horse, not just a racehorse, she explains.
“The first couple of days he was a handful, I had to go through a number of things to get him to settle, but by the 10th day, he was a cowboy,” she said.
“He has settled right down and he is so much more respectful now on the track, it did him the world of good and it was just what he needed.
“If you look at his last preparation with me and compare it to what he has done previously, he only ran one bad race for me and that is because he did not handle the track, every other time he was in the top three.”
In Heart Vandelay’s single preparation with trainer Livingstone, he was only outside of the money on one occasion from six starts, including one winner and three second placed finishes in provincial grade.
“He was always a horse that was a little bit finicky, I thought it would do him good to go away and do something else,” Livingstone, who rides her own work as well as breaking in horses, said.
“He is the type of horse that could be your worst ride of a morning, or your best just depending on the day.
“I do not think there is anyone that has ever ridden him that has not fallen off him, he only ever got me once at the track because he whips around and stuff.
“He was not naughty; he was just a bit challenging.”