SATURDAY: December 18, 2021: A change of gear and a change of routine paved the way at Goulburn yesterday for The Grundler to add to his first-up record.
Having his first start since early August when runner-up at the same track, The Grundler ($13) overcame a slow start to make it two from four when beginning a campaign.
With Alysha Collett aboard, who has partnered him in both his wins, the New Zealand-bred four-year-old rolled $2.90 favorite Bella Violet in the Class 1 Handicap (1400m).
Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup clinched his 22nd winner of the season, and this morning explained the reasoning behind the gelding’s gear change along with a change of routine.
“We put a DC Morgan bit on him, which is a dressage bit,” Brad said.
“It’s more comfortable in his mouth. I hadn’t experienced this type of bit until the Adelaide mare Icecrusher came over to our stable earlier in the year.”
The Grundler’s Goulburn second on August 9 was his only start that campaign, and Brad halted his preparation when he wasn’t happy with him.
“I gave him a break, and Icebath’s work rider Rosie Jilla, who is an experienced eventing rider, has been doing equestrian work on him off course to change his routine.
“It’s all about keeping him happy, and the Goulburn race yesterday looked very suitable, especially as he races well fresh.”
Brad prepared The Grundler for his return at 1400m with only one trial, finishing fifth to import Desert Empire in a 1200m heat at Warwick Farm on December 2.
The Grundler, a son of 2014 Listed Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) winner and dual Group 1 placegetter (2014 Randwick Guineas and George Ryder Stakes), has now twice and been runner-up from only four first-up attempts.
His sole unplaced effort was when he began his career as an early inexperienced three-year-old and finished eighth in a 1300m Maiden at Hawkesbury on August 20 last year.
He broke through at $15 at the beginning of his second campaign, in a 1350m Maiden at Newcastle on February 1 this year.
As with yesterday, The Grundler also rolled a favorite, Mr Severino ($3.30), that day.
Brad purchased The Grundler privately from New Zealand for new client Mike Gregg, and races in the gold and black colours of the University of NSW (UNSW) Cricket Club, known as the Bumble Bees.
And he owes his rather unusual name indirectly to the late American country music legend Kenny Rogers.
The University Cricket Club changed Rogers’ famous hit The Gambler to The Grundler as their victory song.
On yesterday’s performance, it seems The Grundler won’t be so long hitting ‘em for six again!