It was extremely pleasing to score a win at Flemington on Saturday with VERIFIER. Not a bad track to win your maiden!
Verifier has been running very well this campaign. In each of his five race starts in 2023 he has been the strongest finisher, catching the eye with his length of stride and willingness to hit the line strongly. This included a good performance in the Group 3 Chairman’s Hcp at Morphettville and again at Flemington in late May.
It has been unfortunate that Verifier has not been quickly into stride upon leaving the barriers, or in a couple of cases shuffled back to the rear of the field in a muddling race tempo. In some races he has been hanging in and making his riders’ task just a little bit harder.
However, there has been no doubting Verifier’s ability in Nigel’s mind. Some work was just needed to turn these strong closing performances into winning ones.
That work at home on the training track with riders and ground staff, combined with some modifications to his gear, paid off on Saturday. Robbie Downey having his second ride on Verifier was also a significant benefit.
Robbie and Nigel discussed race plans at length. Robbie’s experience on Verifier allowed him to be aware of his quirks and in particular, taught him that Verifier needed to build the momentum earlier in the race. There was a lot of confidence that Verifier would deliver in the final 200m.
Despite being cluttered up and again near the rear of the field approaching the home turn, Robbie was able to pick his way through gaps to be within striking distance of the front runners at the 400m mark. Verifier delivered his customary powerful and brave performance to score the win.
WS-bred 3YO son of Tivaci, Verifier (ex Checkout) leaves his opponents behind to win @FlemingtonVRC for @NigelBlackiston 👌🏼 He was offered by @realryanarnel at @inglis_sales Premier Sale, purchased by his trainer. Congrats to all connections 🤩 pic.twitter.com/mAjbleYDpA— Waikato Stud (@WaikatoStud) June 3, 2023
“It was a beautiful ride by Robbie though and it opened up for him and they got the job done,” Nigel said.
The $150,000 Royal Children’s Hospital Staff Appreciation Plate is actually part of “plan B” for Nigel and connections. “Plan A” was to get Verifier into the SA Derby after his strong finishing fifth in the Chairman’s Handicap, but Verifier could not make the final Derby field.
Confident that Verifier is a proven 2000m horse and looks likely to be better again over further distances, Nigel set his sights on the Mahogany Series for three-year-olds in Melbourne. Two 2000m races at Flemington lead into the $200k Mahogany Series Final over 2500m on 1 July.
Having now scored his maiden victory in one of the Mahogany Series heats, Verifier will now head to that final in four weeks time.
Congratulations to connections of Verifier who have been hearing about their talented gelding for some time but aching for that first win. This is a well-deserved city victory for the group of loyal owners.
Congratulations also to Robbie Downey on his first winner at Flemington. Robbie has been working very hard with several stables across the state and we have been very happy with Robbie’s presence here at Ballarat. He deserves all the chances he gets.
As for Verifier himself, he is a lovely gelding from a terrific Waikato Stud family. By one of the stud’s resident stallions, TIVACI, he is the first foal out of CHECKOUT (by Savabeel). This is the family of SHOPAHOLIC, BARGAIN, SHOP TIL I DROP and of course the Group 1 winner SACRED FALLS.
Good shopping by Nigel to pay only $80,000 for him at the 2021 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale (from the draft of Stonehouse Thoroughbreds). Here’s hoping connections cash in with more success from Verifier as he continues to mature.