This time last year Goulburn trainer Tash Burleigh was putting the finishing touches on her first foray into the Country Championships qualifier at Goulburn with Hangover Monday.
This year she is probably only a 40/60 chance of having a runner. But as a nice consolation she has unearthed a real late bloomer with O So Tempting.
The O’Lonhro gelding did what few do by winning stylishly on debut when he stepped out over a short course trip at Moruya on the January 22.
The 20-1 on offer that day looked generous by the time the gelding hit the finish line, showing off a smart turn of foot to win. While his price suggested the market was surprised by his win, Burleigh was quietly confident of an eye-catching run at his first start.
“A couple of gallops leading into the race he started to feel like he was putting it together,” she said.
“I had to scratch him from Nowra due to a heavy track. So Moruya was plan B. I gave him some work on the grass a few days out and came in and said to my partner Pat, ‘if this horse can get a nice run at Moruya I think he can win!’”
Training out of her Goulburn base, Burleigh has hit winning form of late with two winners from her last four starters, including Bocelli at Canberra on February 2. Despite O So Tempting being a late comer to racing for Burleigh, it was almost written in the stars that the horse would come back under her tutelage.
“He was originally with my former mentor, Graeme Spackman, as a two-year-old before Graeme passed away. I was only starting out training and the owners decided to send him on to another trainer.”
“The horse had gone shin sore a few times in these last couple of years and things weren’t quite working for him. The main owner from WA gave me a call one afternoon and I was happy to have the horse back in the stable.”
She was happy after peeling off the second quickest sectional of the meeting at Moruya. After his stirring debut win, Burleigh couldn’t resist producing him at his home track, this time around in a Class 1 over 1200m.
He meets a pretty sharp field for a Class 1, but Burleigh will be happy with some natural improvement off his first up run.
“He is a work in progress and will definitely learn a lot with more racing. But it’s great that he has that mentality. With more runs under his belt he will be an even nicer horse again and hopefully give his owners plenty more cheers!” Burleigh said.
O So Tempting and Burleigh tackle some heavy hitting stables in the race with the always producing Danny Williams yard accepting with Highway Handicap placegetter El Mo. City maiden winner Madonnica is top weight for the Waterhouse-Bott yard, whilst Bjorn Baker sends debut winner, The Greatest, from Warwick Farm.
“On paper the race is quite competitive. But I’m looking forward to seeing how he fares against these horses,” she said.
Goulburn’s seven-race card on Monday, February 12, kicks off at 1.45pm, and is a high-quality prelude to the SERA Country Championships Goulburn Qualifier on Saturday, February 24.