By Ray Hickson
Trainer Richard Nutman is excited to have the band back together at Randwick on Wednesday with jockey Chad Lever finally able to partner the lightly raced mare Meditate on race day again.
It'll be Lever's first city ride for several months when they team up in the TAB Handicap (1150m) as the restricted jockey zones implemented from late March under the coronavirus protocols are no longer in place.
Because he chose to be based outside the metro area Lever wasn’t able to ride Meditate in her first-up second behind Estrado at Canterbury three weeks ago. Sam Clipperton took the mount that day.
It’s hardly a reunion, though, as Nutman revealed Lever is never far from the five-year-old’s side day to day. Add to that he'd ridden the mare in all four previous starts, for three wins, and every barrier trial, so nobody knows her better.
“Chad comes and rides her every morning, he really likes her,’’ Nutman said.
“He also comes in and does a few afternoons when he’s not riding and works around the stable, takes an interest in the horses. It's a bit more personal touch than just coming in and riding in the morning, he likes to be involved.’’
The only blemish on Meditate’s record to date was a last placing at Canterbury in December but she subsequently required throat surgery and that kept her off the scene until June 10.
Meditate runs second at Canterbury on June 10
Nutman said on the evidence of what she showed there, after leading the field into the straight, and since the run the operation has been successful and he’s keen to see what she can produce.
“I was holding my breath all the way down the straight,’’ he said.
“She had a standing laser surgery on her throat, it wasn’t a dramatic operation but she still had to overcome it and work out well and it has.
“She’d shown speed in her trials and trackwork but you never put them over the 1100m in trackwork so that last bit is always a question mark.
“Even though it was a hard run she bounced out of it pretty well. She’s only a lightly framed mare and doesn’t carry a lot of excess weight and she did really well out of it.’’
Meditate was bred by Wayne and Pauline Alchin and they race her with a group of people including the Hawkesbury trainer’s wife Bernadette.
Nutman said the connections have been very patient in the past 12 months and hopes they can be rewarded with that elusive city win, be it on Wednesday, where she's a $6 chance with TAB, or further down the track.
“They started out with three in a row then it went all pear shaped after that. We’ve taken our time with her, she’s sound and hopefully this prep and the next one will be good for her,’’ he said.
“When you watch her work she hardly ever touches the ground with her feet, she just skims across it. She goes on a dry track but the wet takes a few others out of it.
“The barrier could help her a bit in the end, you can determine yourself where you want to go on the track. If it’s cut up on the fence you’re not dictated to by the others.
“I think if she stays sound and her breathing stays good she will knock off one of these races.”