BALL Of Muscle has bounced back to form in emphatic fashion after staking out the listed Absolut Stakes at Flemington on Oaks Day.
Returning to the 1000m distance for the first time in five races, the seven-year-old relished the opportunity to sprint the entire way, hitting the front at the 200m mark and running away with the race to return $2.30 at Crownbet.
Crystal Dreamer, which paid $1.70 the place at Sportsbet, closed late but could not make up enough ground to trouble the winner, while Palazzo Pubblico ($3.40 at William Hill) rounded at the placings.
The victory on Thursday broke a two-and-a-half-year drought for Ball Of Muscle, and trainer Joseph Pride said the shorter distance helped his gelding find its top form.
“There were a few that were prepared to knock him and fair enough, he hadn’t won in awhile,” Pride told HorseBetting.com.au after the win.
“Over the 1000m I just reckon he’s a better horse. At 1200m he sometimes struggles, but at the shorter trip he just lets go and can run his own race.
“Very happy he was able to turn it around.”
The horse dropped in grade in the Absolut Stakes and proved far too classy for its rivals, recording its ninth win from 31 starts.
Pride said overcoming an injury problem was the key to ending the losing streak.
“He had a bit of a problem with his feet, and we finally got him right this preparation.
“Another horse of mine Tiger Tees did the same thing, he had a lull in his career for around 18 months, then we got his feet right and he came back and won another three or four races including a group one.”
Pride said Ball Of Muscle now has the ability to go on and claim more races following the break-through win.
“I’ve got no doubt he’s back to his best, I had no doubt about that and today just confirmed that to me.
“Winning races really gives you confidence wherever they race, so it was really good to see him back in the winner’s circle today.”
There are a number of options for Ball Of Muscle going forward, including the Group One Lightning Stakes early next year.
Pride said that while no decision has been made as to which race the son of Dubawi confronts next, he knows what distance the race will be.
“I reckon he loves 1000m to 1100m trip, I reckon that’s the key to the horse.”