There are no better examples of team effort than the strong win of Sneakers at Ladbrokes Park (Sandown) on Monday. Track riders, handlers, vets, clerks of the course, barrier attendants and jockey all contributed significantly to her victory, her second of her career so far.
Sneakers won impressively on debut last August before running creditable races at Sale, Morphettville and Moonee Valley. But riders detected a slight breathing noise upon galloping. Nigel and connections, a partnership led by Ian and Karyn Lewis, discussed and agreed to send her for a dynamic endoscopy examination (scope). This revealed a very mild problem with her larynx which was immediately rectified with minor surgery, with full support of her owners. Cogs 1 and 2 in the team - our team of vets and Sneakers' connections.
You never really know if those kind of procedures are successful until horses are put under pressure in races. Sneakers had jumped out well at Flemington, twice, before her planned return to the races at Ballarat a couple of weeks ago. However she reared and tossed Brian Higgins into the fence and then flipped over on top of him. Both Brian and Sneakers were lucky to walk away with only bruising and a few scrapes. Sneakers was scratched, as was Brian for the afternoon.
This leads us to the third cog in the team. Our stable staff and track riders, especially Chris Hough, modified a few aspects of her training to settle Sneakers down. Nigel removed all the head gear from her in track work in preparation for an attempt to return to the races.
The fourth cog was the outstanding work that our Clerks of the Course do at each and every racetrack around the country - specifically Peter and Shane Patterson on this occasion at Sandown. Request was granted to take Sneakers out on to the track immediately after mounting, with the lead pony. That plan delivered the desired result - a calm and happy horse.
Fifth, barrier attendants then played their part in Sneakers' victory, keeping her very calm and comfortable in the gates. We should not underestimate the value of our barrier attendants, and the partnership they build with each jockey and horse.
Lastly, and perhaps most of all, Brian Higgins was courageous and dedicated to jump back on Sneakers. He thoroughly deserved this city win. We would not have been offended if Brian had rejected the ride on Sneakers after the incident at Ballarat. But he and Nigel have been building up a good partnership in recent times with a number of progressive horses. He stuck with her, helped her, encouraged her and showed true horsemanship. He then rode a perfect race, keeping her comfortable in the running and in clear room with momentum.
In total, six cogs in our extended team that each contributed to Sneakers' victory. With maturity and a few better experiences on the track, we are confident that Sneakers will progress from this victory and deliver many more.
Congratulations to the partnership racing Sneakers on lease from good friends of the stable, Murray Hardy and Paddy Preston in NZ.
For more information on Sneakers, head to her bio page.