Foot(e) in the till again

Ben Foote is looking to add to his good strike rate since returning to Cambridge when he saddles up Ginja Ninja and Cornelius at Te Awamutu on Saturday.

Foote has spent the last six years training from Byerley Park after establishing himself as a successful trainer from the Cambridge centre. And now he’s back where it all started and keen to keep churning out the winners.

Foote returned last month and Cornelius became his first winner from his old stamping ground when successful in a maiden event at Ellerslie on June 15. Later on that programme Ginja Ninja finished second in the open sprint.

Ginja Ninja won for Foote a week later at Ellerslie and Cornelius finished a gallant second.

“They’re the only two I’ve got racing at the moment, but I’ve got 15 in work and more to come in,” said Foote. “I’ll try and keep it around 20 in work. That’s enough. I don’t want to get up as high as I did at Byerley Park. I had 50 in work there at one stage.”

Cornelius, an $800 mixed sale purchase, has emerged as a very promising galloper with a win and eight placings from 13 starts and rates a big chance in Saturday’s the PIC Insurance Brokers/NZI Insurance 1400. But Foote says the Spartacus three-year-old is lucky to be racing, let alone winning.

“He’s a very, very unsound horse,” said Foote. “He pulled up sore after his second start at Te Rapa and the vet said he was so bad, it wasn’t worth operating on him. But his Australian-based owner, David Devitt, who races him with his sons, wanted to go ahead with the operation. He loves him.
“He had both knees operated on and the vets gave him just a 10 percent chance of making it back to the races.”

Foote says he came so close to retiring Cornelius. “He just couldn’t walk, but we’ve worked around it,” he said. “He’s still a day to day proposition, but he’s tough. When the pressure goes on in a race, he loves it.”

Ginja Ninja is also a tough horse who refuses to give in. What she lacks for in stature, she makes up for it in courage.

“She’s thrived since she won last start and if she goes well on Saturday I’ll take her down to New Plymouth for the Opunake Cup,” said Foote.