Time on Rathbone’s side with promising chaser

Torque Time will commence his campaign in the Lisa Latta Racing Stables (1600m) on Friday at Wanganui. Photo: Race Images PN

Jo Rathbone is hoping to reap the benefits of a patient season with Torque Time as the promising steeplechaser commences his campaign at Wanganui on Friday.

A son of Guillotine, Torque Time joined Rathbone’s stable in late-2022, and was a model of consistency through his first jumping season, only twice finishing out of the placings in seven jumping starts.

Despite the eight-year-old’s strong form, Rathbone resisted the temptation of more lucrative targets including the Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m) but has the majors firmly in sight this year after he resumes in the Lisa Latta Racing Stables (1600m).

“He’s looking great, but it’s just a fitness run for him on Friday, a stepping stone towards the jumps races,” Rathbone said.

“I think he’ll benefit a lot from last year, it was his first proper jumping season and he’ll be much improved this time in. They quite often need a year to learn the ropes, and I didn’t want to push him for the Northern and other bigger races too soon.

“I think those races will be on the cards for him, but his only governing factor is he doesn’t really like a wet track. I’ll probably look to take him where the tracks will be on the better side, we are aiming to have him ready to go pretty early with that in mind.

“I think he has a pretty exciting year steeplechasing ahead, although he would be pretty competitive over the hurdles as well, I just chose to target the chase races last season.”

Rathbone indicated the gelding’s first major test would come in the Manawatu Steeplechase (4000m) on May 25, a race she won last year with Des De Jeu, who kicks off his final season in the Kevin Myers Stables Jumpers Highweight (1600m) earlier on the Wanganui card.

The Trentham feature was the Mettre En Jeu eleven-year-old’s career highlight to date, while he also finished second and third in the Koral Steeplechase (4250m) and Waikato Steeplechase (3900m) last season.

Des De Jeu will join his stablemate when attempting to defend the Manawatu Steeplechase crown in May, preceded by a similar flat preparation.

“He’ll just have a run around on Friday,” Rathbone said.

“He kicked off his jumping season last year down at Trentham and won, so we’ll be taking a similar path of a few flat runs and hope to do the same.

“This will be his last season as he’s getting a bit older now, but he showed enough last year to prove he’s worth having another go.”

A former top jumps jockey, Rathbone has utilised her background at home with Yellow Jersey, a capable flat performer now preparing for a potential jumping future when resuming alongside Des De Jeu.

“He’s been going well, and I think he could go a very good race on Friday,” Rathbone said.

“I’ve schooled him over the jumps since he arrived, he used to be a little bit troublesome and I’ve found that he’s really enjoyed it.

“A jumping career is definitely on the cards for him, but he’s in the same boat as Torque Time in not liking the tracks too heavy.

“He’ll probably go to the point-to-point after this run on the 16th of April, and we’ll just take it from there.”

Completing the Wanganui horsewoman’s representatives will be Split, a son of Turn Me Loose having his first race-day outing since July 2023, and first under Rathbone’s care in the Happy 65th John Baxter Highweight 2040.

“He’s another horse that I think should go a nice race on Friday,” she said.

“My partner and I purchased him with a jumping future in mind, but he’s still a while away from that.

“He hasn’t raced since he was a three-year-old, and by the looks of him, he needed the time. I think he’ll be well improved from then. Peter Didham had him originally and thought a bit of him, so we thought we would give him a crack and he’s done everything right.

“Hopefully he can run well, and then we may look to aim for some jumping races later in the year.”

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