Finally gets his game together

The Fame Game (Trudy Thornton) strolling home an easy maiden winner at Matamata yesterday.

Robyn and Russell Rogers are hoping yesterday’s win by The Fame Game at Matamata is the start of a realisation of the five-year-old’s ability to work through the grades.

The Cambridge couple bred, train and race The Fame Game, who capped off three placings in his previous five starts with an authoritative win in the Matamata Vet Services 1200 in the hands of Trudy Thornton.

“He’s always had a huge amount of ability, but he’s always been one of those frustrating horses,” Robyn Rogers said.

“He’s always done quite a bit wrong and tended to over-race and that has cost him a win sooner. He should have won a race a lot earlier than this.”

The Fame Game had shown promise as a three-year-old when winning his first trial then being placed in two further trials before making a very encouraging raceday debut when a close second to Under Wraps at Te Aroha 13 months ago.

He followed up with a third at Avondale, again over 1200m, but cost himself a closer placing when race ungenerously when being steadied after 300m and he again raced in the same manner after being slow away when eighth at Matamata in his next start 12 months ago.

He showed a further glimpse of his talent when fourth at Tauranga in January last year and that form has stacked up well as the winner was the smart Rondinella and the runner-up recent impressive winner Starrybeel.

However, yet again The Fame Game over-raced in his next race when tried with blinkers for the first time and finished among the tailenders at the Matamata meeting last February.

It was then decided to give him a lengthy spell and when he resumed at the trials last month he won easily by three lengths over 935m at Cambridge, boosting confidence in the camp, particularly the confidence of Thornton, who rode him for the first time in that heat.

Yesterday Thornton didn’t hustle The Fame Game in the early stages and in fact had her hands full restraining the son of Shocking at the back of the field.

She then let him slide a bit closer with 700m to run and improved him wide approaching the home turn. The Fame Game soon swept to the front and he raced away in the final 150m.

“He got back and I knew I had a lot of horse under me so I gave him a bit to do and he did it easily,” Thornton said.

“He’s got a lot of ability, but with a bad attitude. When he puts it all together he’s a smart galloper.”

Obviously both Robyn and Russell Rogers were all smiles after the big winning day finally came for The Fame Game.

“He’s come back and matured a lot and that was nice to see him pull that one off,” Robyn Rogers said.

“We’ve got to thank Mark Hills. He did a lot of work on this horse in the early days when he wasn’t that easy to work.

“He’s just been a bit slow to mature mentally and physically.”

The Fame Game became the fifth winner for Young American, an Australian-bred daughter of Charnwood Forest who was placed as a three-year-old in Australia.

Young American is a half-sister to the 2008 Gr.1 Railway Handicap winner Imananabaa, who won two Listed races and was also third in a Railway and Gr.1-placed when third in the 2009 STC Queen Of The Turf Stakes.

Imananabaa was trained at Cambridge by Don Sellwood and filled a minor placing in 10 black-type races including seconds in the Gr.2 Avondale JC Concorde Handicap, Gr.2 Counties RC Auckland Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes and the Gr.3 ARC Darley Plate, and a third in the Gr.2 Cal Isuzu Stakes at Te Rapa.