John Bateman’s training skills will be put to the test when quirky gelding WAR DECK has his first start for the stable at Wagga on Thursday.
Formerly prepared by Joe Pride at Warwick Farm, WAR DECK arrived at John’s Goulburn base earlier this month in the hope that a change of scenery would help the gelding realise his potential.
The son of DECLARATION OF WAR tackles Thursday’s 1200m maiden having been unplaced in six previous starts but John believes the four-year-old’s temperamental issues have restricted performances on the racetrack.
“He hasn’t raced since August 2 and since then I’ve just been trying to get him to relax more around the stable and when he goes out onto the track in the mornings,” John said.
“He’s still a work in progress but he’s definitely more relaxed since we changed his gear around – I’ve started working him in ear muffs and put a cross over nose band on him.
“I’ve also stretched his work out and I think he appreciates long steady pace work.”
WAR DECK has the advantage of an inside draw on Thursday and John expects the gelding to make full use of the barrier.
“I don’t see the point in restraining him from there. I’ve got Kayla Nisbet on and she has nice soft hands, so I’d expect her to just let him stride from there,” he said.
“If that means we end up leading then so be it but I don’t want him fighting the rider. “
Coming from 1600m back to 1200m in less than a month shapes as another challenge for John but he’s confident the horse will run above expectations.
“Going off just his work I think he’ll be hard to beat,”
“He shows more potential than most other maidens I’ve trained and has freshened up nicely for the 1200m.
“I just hope he puts his best foot forward.”