This time last year, Goulburn trainer Tash Burleigh was putting the finishing touches on her first foray into the Country Championships qualifier at Goulburn with Hangover Monday.
This year she is probably only a 40/60 chance of having a runner but as a nice consolation she has unearthed a real late bloomer with O'so Tempting. The O’Lonhro gelding did what few do by winning stylishly on debut when he stepped out over a short course trip at Moruya on 22 January.
The $21 on offer that day looked generous indeed by the time the gelding hit the finish line showing off a smart turn of foot to claim the race coasting away.
Whilst his price that day (started $19) suggested the market was surprised by his win, Burleigh was quietly confident of an eye-catching run at his first start despite a scratching at his initial acceptance.
“A couple of gallops leading into the race he started to feel like he was putting it together. I had to scratch him from Nowra due to a heavy track.
"So Moruya was Plan B and I gave him some work on the grass a few days out and came in and said to my partner Pat, if this horse can get a nice run at Moruya I think he can win!” Ms Burleigh said.
Happy at home training out of her tablelands base, Burleigh has hit winning form of late with two winners from her last four starters (Bocelli was on song saluting at Canberra last Friday). Despite O'so Tempting being a latecomer to racing for Burleigh, it was almost written in the stars that the horse would come back under her tutelage.
“He was originally with my former mentor Graeme Spackman as a 2YO before Graeme passed away. I was only starting out training and the owners decided to send him on to another trainer.
“The horse had gone shin sore a few times in these last couple of years and things weren’t quite working with him where he was. The main owner from WA gave me a call one afternoon and I was happy to have the horse back in the stable.”
Happy indeed after peeling off the second quickest sectional of the meeting at Moruya. After his stirring debut win Burleigh couldn’t resist producing him at his home track this time around in a Class 1 over 1200m. He meets a pretty sharp field for a Class 1 but Burleigh will be happy with some natural improvement off his first-up run.
“He is a work in progress and will definitely learn a lot with more racing. But it’s great that he has that mentality, with more runs under his belt he will be an even nicer horse again. Hopefully, he can give his owners plenty more cheers!"
O'so Tempting and Burleigh tackle some heavy hitting stables in the race with the always producing Danny Williams yard accepting with last start Highway Handicap placegetter El Mo. City maiden winner Madonnica is topweight for the Waterhouse-Bott yard whilst Bjorn Baker sends debut winner The Greatest up the highway from Warwick Farm for the race too.
This doesn’t phase Burleigh too much though, the trainer happy to put a toe in the water and find out how O'so Tempting measures up at just start number two.
“On paper the race is quite competitive. But I’m looking forward to seeing how he fairs against these horses. It’s still only very early days and he may do a few things wrong, but he won’t win races if he’s standing in his yard.”
Goulburn’s seven-race card on Monday kicks off at 1:45pm and is a high-quality prelude to the SERA Country Championships Qualifier the club will host 12 days later on Saturday 24th February.