Stylish grey gelding Stratocaster put his racing career back on track with a dominant performance at Trentham on the weekend.
The six-year-old had looked a horse of real promise when he defeated the subsequent multiple Group One winner Turn Me Loose, at just his second start at Hastings back in August 2014. He then went on to perform with credit when finishing fourth in the Gr. 2 Hawkes Bay Guineas (1400m) and fifth in the Gr. 1 2000 Guineas (1600m) before rounding out his three-year-old campaign with a disappointing effort in the Gr. 2 Avondale Guineas (2000m) behind Mongolian Khan.
Multiple injuries saw the Mastercraftsman gelding restricted to just one subsequent appearance in 2015 before returning to the track last month to recommence his career. Although finishing well back in two starts before Saturday, the signs were there that the Emma-Lee and David Browne trained galloper was ready for a forward showing which he produced in eye-catching fashion on Saturday.
Settled in a handy position against the fence by rider Darryl Bradley, Stratocaster was travelling easily as the field straightened for the run home in the Hiremaster Premier (1400m) rating 85 contest. Bradley eased his charge off the fence as the gaps appeared and they raced to a three-length lead which was comfortably maintained to the finish line in a tidy 1.23.31 for the journey.
Emma-Lee Browne was quick to acknowledge the challenges faced by her charge when questioned after the race.
“I think the ability has always been there, but he’s needed a couple of runs back after having the two years off,” she said.
“He’s had a few injuries. He injured himself in his three-year-old year and we got him back then it all happened again.
“He’s always had stacks of ability, so it was gutting when it all happened. It’s just so rewarding to get him back.”
Browne did admit there was enough confidence in the camp to make the long trip from their Cambridge base to tackle the Trentham assignment.
“It’s a long way to go but we were pretty confident coming in,” she said.
“We will see how he comes through this as you just have to take every day as it comes with him. Hopefully we can keep kicking on with him.”
“We tried to stretch him out as a three-year-old, but he had his problems so we’re hoping he might be able to get up over a trip this time in.”