By Ray Hickson
Kristen Buchanan lovingly refers to her talented four-year-old Echo Effect as an idiot. But also as a serious racehorse.
The Wyong trainer says Echo Effect has caused trouble for himself with his racing manners and for his riders during simple tasks but she’s confident he’s turning the corner.
Already the gelding has shown enough ability to be Group placed but, as he resumes at Warwick Farm on Saturday, Buchanan has her sights firmly on the rich Provincial Championships.
“I’m excited about the horse full stop but the series is perfect for us,’’ Buchanan said.
“It was something I considered last year, he was nominated for heats, but he had that foot trouble and we went a different pathway. Because he hasn’t won his Group race yet it is a nice option.’’
Around this time last year Echo Effect was beaten narrowly in the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes but his foot issues made placement hard for Buchanan.
He then had a “preparation he had to have’’ in the spring, with a Group 3 placing among his four starts, where plenty of work went into making the horse grow up and “use his brain’’ and, ahead of the Sledmere Stud Dash (1000m), the Wyong trainer is confident it was worth it.
“He’s an idiot. Seriously, he’s hard work but he’s a serious horse. He’s a lot more relaxed and a lot more mature now,’’ she said.
“Last campaign was a deliberate decision by myself and the owners, on Hugh Bowman’s advice, to make him use his brain and relax a bit. He was just running on adrenaline.
“While that’s not necessarily a bad thing we thought it cost him on a number of occasions. It was the prep we had to have to teach him to be a racehorse.’’
That education was on show in Echo Effect’s only trial this preparation where he settled back, relaxed then attacked the line to run a close fifth over 807m at Warwick Farm on February 1.
In the saddle was apprentice Blaike McDougall and he’ll ride the gelding at 54.5kg on Saturday with a view to sticking with him for the Wyong Qualifier (1350m) on March 3. Paul King was originally earmarked to ride but his retirement forced a change of plan.
“I think he is a horse that is better when he’s allowed to be where he is comfortable,’’ Buchanan said.
“Where he is in running is not so important it’s more the rider allows him to be comfortable. Blaike did exactly what I asked him to do.''
Echo Effect hits the line late in his Warwick Farm trial on February 1
TAB has Echo Effect rated a $7.50 chance for his first-up assignment in what is a wide market with a lot of the chances resuming from breaks.
Buchanan said the 1000m could be too short but now that Echo Effect’s troubles appear to be in the past she’s not ruling out a first-up win.
“There’ll be enough speed that he can be comfortable in the run and he will be hitting the line strongly,’’ she said.
“I don’t think he is a true 1000m horse at that level but it wouldn’t surprise me.
“If there was a lot of speed on, he’ll run home in 32 or 33 off the back of a good tempo. Realistically he’s at his best when he gets to 1350m or 1400m.’’
The $500,000 Provincial Championships Final (1400m) is run at Royal Randwick on April 14.