By Julieanne Horsman
This time last year Croix De Vie’s owners had made the difficult decision to sell him and were in the process of negotiating a price with a prospective buyer. While the Beneteau gelding’s record of three wins from 21 starts at the time certainly wasn’t bad, it wasn’t sparkling and according to co-trainer Paul Jones his attitude wasn’t too flash either.
“He would just train off and not put in,” Jones said. “He broke his maiden at the Wagga Gold Cup Carnival in 2016 and we were all excited but he never applied himself after that. The owners wanted to invest their money in a new horse so we agreed to sell.”
Just before the deal was done the person who was set to buy Croix De Vie pulled out. The owners were disappointed but came to the conclusion it was a “sign” and they would race on. They didn’t know it at the time but it was a blessing.
Croix De Vie was sent for a long spell and came back a different horse. He resumed in spectacular fashion with a four-and-a-half length win in the TAB Federal at Canberra on 5th January 2018. He followed that up with three more wins including another two TAB Federals, giving him a strike rate of 44.4% this year. In six months he’s earned close to $100,000.
“We joke it’s as if he heard us talking about selling him and decided to pull his finger out,” Jones said. “But realistically some horses just take longer to mature than others. We can tell if they’re developed physically but they need to be mentally mature as well.
“Croix De Vie is five now and he just took a bit longer to work it all out.
“Some horses don’t show their best ability until they are four or five years old and that’s where patience comes into play.”
Croix De Vie saluted in his most recent race at Wagga over 1400m on 4th June. He missed the start but managed to battle home up the rail to win by one-and-a-half lengths.
“He came up the worst part of the track and it wasn’t ‘til the next race when the first three shot up the middle from well back that we realised how good a win it was,” Jones said.
Croix De Vie will be aiming for back-to-back wins when he lines up in the TLE Electrical Batemans Bay Open Handicap over 1300m at Moruya on Friday and while Jones expects a strong showing, he concedes it’s going to be a tough task.
“The field is exceptional,” he said. “There are some of the best horses in the Southern Districts in that field. It happens when there are open handicaps in the country areas. These horses aren’t really competitive in Sydney but there aren’t many races for them in the country. I’m happy with my fella but it won’t be easy.”
Jones is hoping the rain forecast for today will miss Moruya Racecourse which is already rated a Soft 6.
“Soft 5 would be ideal for Croix De Vie,” he said. “I don’t want it any softer than a 6. Soft 5 would be ideal so I am praying for some sun.”
Among the owners of Croix De Vie is former top country jockey Ray Silburn who gets to the track whenever he can.
“He gets a kick out of watching his horses go around and hopefully Croix De Vie can make him happy tomorrow.”