Brisbane co-trainers trainer Peter and Will Hulbert head to Murwillumbah on Tuesday with high expectations of their two runners - former frustrating 'slow learner' Endless Don and ex-Sydney galloper Darciwood.
Darciwood, lining up for just his fourth start for the Hulberts, tackles the Michael Biltoft & Associates Dentists Murwillumbah Summer Dash (1200m). Endless Don, coming off an overdue Maiden win at Doomben last start, lines up in the Daniel Gray Plumbing Class 1 & Maiden Plate (2020m).
Formerly with the Hawkes stable in Sydney where he won four of his 18 starts, Darciwood joined the Hulberts at Eagle Farm just a few months ago after being sidelined since late 2015.
Now a seven-year-old, Darciwood has had three runs for the Hulberts - all at the Sunshine Coast. He resumed for fifth of six runners behind Sundance on Boxing Day then ran an improved second to Divine Service (a subsequent Eagle Farm winner) in a Benchmark 80 Hcp (1200m) on January 15. Last start he finished midfield behind Oberland in a Benchmark 85 Hcp (1200m) on January 28.
"He was pretty promising early on his career with the Hawkes stable and I remember one day he stormed home from last to beat the likes of Fell Swoop," said Peter Hulbert. "I'm not entirely sure what the injury issue was with him before he came to us about three months ago. I was told he may have had knee surgery but he shows no signs of any problems.
"His second-up run for us behind Divine Service was very encouraging then he looked a bit disappointing last time, but he did draw the rails and that's not the place to be at the Sunshine Coast.
"Larry Cassidy rode him at his first two starts back, but switched to Rob Heathcote's last time (Oberland). But Larry was keen get back on him again on Tuesday - which is a good sign. He should be hard to beat in the Murwillumbah race."
Hulbert identified Colour Charge's win at Eagle Farm on Saturday as another positive sign: "Colour Charge finished behind us twice at his previous runs before coming out and winning on Saturday," he said.
Hulbert hopes the penny has finally dropped with his other Murwillumbah runner, Endless Don, who is chasing back-to-back wins after finally breaking through at his 15th start to land a Maiden over 2200m at Doomben on January 26.
"He's been a bit frustrating," admitted Hulbert. "He's just been a dumb, slow-learner but hopefully now that he's finally won a race it may switch him on a bit more and give him more confidence."
Hulbert said his talented mare Saga Miss was a perfect example of one confidence-boosting win making all the difference to some horses.
"Saga Miss was a bit the same, she had quite a few defeats before she won her Maiden, then won another four races pretty quickly after that. Hopefully, this bloke (Endless Don) can do something similar."
Saga Miss has been one of the best performers in recent months for the father-and-son training team who have been having a pretty good run with their horses.
"I've been around forever, but Will and I have been training together now for two seasons," said Hulbert. "Things have been going along pretty well and from our last 50 runners, 35 have collected cheques and we've had eight winners in that time."
The rail for Tuesday's seven-race program will be in its true position and the track is currently rated a good 3.