Springsteen makes impressive return after lengthy absence

(outer) battles with eventual runner-up Mehrtens (middle) in a tight finish at Otaki. Photo Credit: Race Images – Peter Rubery

Talented galloper Springsteen made his much-awaited return to the racetrack a winning one when he ground out a stirring victory over 1300m at Otaki on Monday. The gelding had been off the scene since finishing last behind Dragon Leap in the Group 2 (2100m) at last February, with a pair of unplaced runs at the Foxton trials in September his most recent public appearances.

Despite that break the four-year-old stripped in top condition for trainers and raced accordingly. In the hands of , who had taken out the previous event on promising three-year-old stablemate , Springsteen tracked the speed on the outer before hitting the front with 100m to run and holding out the challenges of Mehrtens and Rangitata to claim victory.

Benner was thrilled to see his charge bounce back to winning form straight away, as he has bigger plans for him further down the track. “He had a decent break after he jarred up badly when he ran in the Avondale Guineas,” he said. “He also needed gelding, so we got all that done and put him away to let him mature for his next campaign.

“We gave him a couple of trials in September on wet tracks, but he just wasn’t quite right so we put him out for another three weeks and then got him ready for the good tracks. “I wasn’t too sure how he would go today, but when I saw him in the birdcage, he looked fantastic and raced accordingly.

“He’s a much stronger horse now, so we will look to step him up over more ground in the next wee while. “I just can’t wait until he gets to 2000m as I think he is a very good stayer in the making and will go through the grades.”

Benner was also taken with Showcasing three-year-old Montre Moi, who had won on debut before having little luck at Ellerslie when finishing near the rear in the Listed (1500m). “He didn’t get all the breaks at Ellerslie as he got back and they weren’t making up much ground that day,” Benner said.

“Jonathan Riddell rode him and told me not to worry too much as he was a nice horse that just needed more experience. “He was dropping back in grade today and I thought he would be hard to beat. “We’ve got him nominated for the New Zealand Derby (Group 1, 2400m) so I’ll have a look at where we go next, but he might sneak into the Karaka 3YO Classic (1600m) so a trip back to Ellerslie this month could be on the cards.”

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