Enigmatic galloper back in stride

Johnathan Parkes getting the best out of the enigmatic Break My Stride at Te Rapa yesterday.

Even the Hall of Famers are stretched beyond the limit at times.

Just mention the horse Break My Stride to Murray Baker, one of the latest inductees into the New Zealand Racing Hall Of Fame, and he’ll shake his head.

Break My Stride, an Australian-bred four-year-old son of Zoffany, took his record to five wins and three placings from 16 starts when he showed a ton of courage over the final stages to hold out fellow Cambridge gallopers Monrecour (trained by Roger James) and Athena Baby (John Bell) in the Bloodstock Achieving Xcellence 1600 at Te Rapa yesterday.

A quick look at his record and his latest performance and you would think you would have to be happy to own such a galloper. But the truth is he could be even better.

“He’s hard to judge,” said Baker after yesterday’s win. “He’s got a lot of ability on his day, but he’s a wee bit erratic. We put the pacifiers back on him and he settled in the run.

“If we can get his brain straightened out I think he’ll go a lot further.”

Break My Stride was first tried in pacifiers and a nose band in his third start, at New Plymouth in December 2016, and the gear changes worked wonders. The then three-year-old showed vast improvement on his first two starts (a fifth and an eighth) to score a decisive win over 1200 metres.

He then went on to run second in his next start, at Rotorua, and produced a gutsy effort to beat the talented Tavidream over 1400 metres at Ellerslie on Karaka Millions night after being trapped wide throughout.

He again won three starts later, on a heavy11 track at Ellerslie last May, but then his form started to tail off.

The nose band came off after he had a rocky run when second-last of seven in his next start at Ellerslie, then he was freshened after tailing the field home when trapped wide at Tauranga last November.

A few weeks later Baker and his training partner, Andrew Forsman, had swapped the pacifiers with blinkers and after pleasing in a Cambridge trial when a close third behind Akoya and Gift Of Power, he ran second to Charles Road over 1600 metres at Pukekohe after over-racing in front and hanging.

The blinkers then came off after his next run when dropping out from second to finish last at Te Rapa and with just the usual lugging bit he came up trumps the following start in a head-bobbing finish with Staccato at New Plymouth.

That effort prompted a trip to Trentham for the Duoro Cup, but again he mixed his form, throwing in a shocker to finish last, so it was back to the re-use of pacifiers yesterday.

Break My Stride is an enigma who certainly keeps you guessing and Baker admits he went into yesterday’s race unsure what to expect.

However, Break My Stride was back on his game again and after tracking the leader, Matimba, he went up at the 600 metres, led on straightening for the run home and fought back doggedly when the late challenges came to score by a head.

“He’s got a couple of little quirks, but when he brings his best game to the races he’s not a bad animal,” said rider Johnathan Parkes, who was aboard when he won his maiden at New Plymouth and again when fifth last April in his only other ride on him.

“They put the pacifiers on today and that could have made the difference. He’s better in the open spaces where he can get rolling when he can.”

Owners Lindsay de Souza, Todd Hartley and Willie Leung have got more genuine horses, but there’s no doubting Break My Stride could be an open-class winner, maybe in black-type company, if he can, as Baker says, “get his brain right.”