From the Commentary Box – Monday, 21 October 2013


Horses, especially good ones, tend to be smarter than you think.

Just ask local trainer Chris Wood.

Wood was pretty sure his stable representative Guns At Five would need the run at Rotorua last Saturday.

Race and meeting abandonments had meant Guns At Five had missed important lead up runs heading into the Agrodome Open over 1950m.

Wood felt Guns At Five would probably improve with the outing after such an interrupted lead up to Saturday’s event.

Wood went so far as to tell the Australian based owners of Guns At Five not to bother having a wager on their galloper.

Understandably it was a sheepish trainer who fielded congratulatory phone calls moments after Guns At Five scored a dashing victory .

“I honestly thought he’d need that run today, so it was a bit of a surprise” said Wood.

Ridden by Trudy Thornton, Guns At Five settled just off the pace before cruising up to the leaders on the home turn.

“At the 1000m he was just revelling in his work and I knew he’d be hard to beat then” said Thornton.

Guns At Five sprinted clear at the top of the straight and made light work of his 59kgs topweight, easing down to score by two and a half lengths.

Chasing in vain were Smartly and the race favourite, Soriano.


Guns At Five was recording his 8th win from 32 starts with his earnings just under $160,000.

“He was sent to Australia after showing much promise earlier in his career, but he failed to show his true worth there and the owners sent him back to me” explained Wood after the race.

Wood also outlined the major spring target for Guns At Five.

“He’ll be set for the NZ Cup at Riccarton next month and his whole preparation will be aimed at that race” said Wood.

Judging by the way he won last Saturday, Guns At Five will be very hard to beat in the two miler.


Also saluting at Rotorua on Saturday was the promising galloper Barbaric.

Trained by Stephen Marsh, Barbaric was the modicum of some inspired support in his fresh up run after a spell.

The money, as my favourite race caller is fond of saying, was right on the lolly !

With rising star apprentice Mick Dee aboard, Barbaric settled well off the leaders in the early stages.

“I was told to ride him cold and to balance him up before asking him for his effort” explained Dee later.

Once Dee asked Barbaric for his effort, the response was immediate as the combination dashed away for an impressive win.

The win vindicated the high opinion trainer Marsh has of his charge.

“We’ve been plagued with foot problems with him all the way through but he seems to be ok now” said Marsh.

Marsh was adamant Barbaric had the goods to go all the way to the top.

“He’s a serious racehorse, definitely Group One material ” said Marsh.


Finally ……although beaten, I thought the ride of James McDonald on Dear Demi in the Caulfield Cup last Saturday was one of the best I’ve ever seen.

The combination came from well back in the field to finish a close third behind eventual winner, Fawkner and runner up Dandino.

If you ever get the chance to see the replay of the race, have a look at McDonalds’ ride.

It should be compulsory viewing at Apprentice School.

The skill and expertise he showed against the best riders in Australasia again showed why he’s rated so highly.

And maybe we will see that again this Saturday when he rides budding champion It’s A Dundeel in the Cox Plate.

Go the Kiwis !!


I’ll catch you next week.