CONNECTIONS of an international horse originally bound for the $6 million Melbourne Cup will use a $10,000 feature at Terang to ease back into racing.
German-bred galloper Val Mondo will have his first start in 13 weeks in the Peter Blank Sprint, a 1125-metre race which highlights the New Year’s Day meeting today.
Warrnambool trainer Aaron Purcell hopes the humble race will represent a new dawn for the six-year-old, which has been frustrated since arriving from England in June.
Val Mondo hit Australian shores as a German St Leger winner and with a string of impressive results in top-class German staying races.
Purcell had hoped to run him in the Melbourne Cup, but he failed to have the same enthusiasm for racing in Australia.
He ran last in two of his three starts since August, at Caulfield and Morphettville, and was second-last in the other at Caulfield.
The performances prompted Purcell to go back to basics.
The trainer will use the Peter Blank Sprint to give Val Mondo “a good experience at the races” with the hope of ultimately increasing the distance. Autumn features in Adelaide would come into consideration if all goes well.
“Some horses are straight forward, they do exactly what you want them to do,” Purcell said.
“Other horses you have to out-think them, I suppose, try and work out a plan to get them to the races in the right frame of mind.
“His work before the races in the spring was pretty good. We went to the races reasonably confident. But he’s running in patches.
“If we start with short distance races, he hasn’t got time to lose his way.”
Purcell said he believed Val Mondo would start about a $20 chance at Terang.
He has attracted 60kg, but claiming apprentice jockey Jordan Childs will reduce that to 57kg.
“He’s there to win, but there are two or three in the race which can run along pretty good,” he said.
The Peter Blank Sprint has attracted six acceptors. Colac trainer Bill Cerchi will start Diamonds at Dusk and Mr Chuckle in the race.
Race one of the six-race meeting is at 2pm.