By Ray Hickson
For a while trainer Nick Olive could only scratch his head in wonder at why Proud Mia wasn’t realising her potential.
As the three-year-old is set to chase her fourth straight win in the Shooting To Win @ Darley Handicap (1000m) at Kensington on Wednesday, Olive revealed test during a track gallop at Goulburn late last year uncovered a breathing issue, akin to asthma, and that became a turning point.
“I didn’t feel she was finishing her races off and we put the dynamic scope down and galloped with the scope in her,’’ Olive said.
“We worked a few things out and found out she’s susceptible to a bit of asthma. Since we've got on top of that she’s definitely improved.”
That gallop took place before Proud Mia ran eighth at Albury in December but since then she’s not put a foot wrong with easy wins at Sapphire Coast, Albury and last start at Wyong.
Olive said he’s overlooked that initial Albury failure, as she wasn’t put into the race, and has been nothing but impressed since as she's built an imposing record of four wins and three seconds from nine starts.
“She loves to get out running and find the fence and that’s when she does her best,’’ he said.
“She’s run time in all her wins, she just missed a track record at Albury and she ran quick time at Wyong on a soft track. She’s definitely earned her chance to have a crack in Sydney for sure.
Proud Mia wins at Wyong on January 24
“On paper there doesn’t look to be any other natural leaders. Hopefully she can jump well and cross and lead, hopefully the rail isn’t off or there might be a change of plan.’’
Proud Mia ($4.40 with TAB) has started twice on a heavy track, both times well before the asthma issue was uncovered, and while Olive hopes the Kensington track can improve after the deluge on Monday night he’s prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Her first attempt was in an open two-year-old race at Rosehill, won by Anders, at her second start and the other was a Sapphire Coast BM58 where she led and finished second.
“Her recovery was slow and she wasn’t breathing properly after the (Rosehill) race,’’ he said.
“It took time to work out but it’s made a big difference.
“I’m not set on that she doesn’t handle a wet track, I think it was more the breathing issue. I just wouldn’t be as confident on a real heavy track.”
Meanwhile Exotic Deel, Olive’s contender for the Newhaven Park Country Championships, will have her next start in the $150,000 SERA Qualifier (1400m) at Nowra on Sunday week.
The four-year-old, a winner of four from 11, returned from a two month break with a closing third behind Vreneli at Canterbury last Friday night.
“She was in that small field, sat last and rattled home for third so she’s spot on for the Country Championships,’’ he said.
“I think it’s very open this year, barriers will be important and who gets the best run.”