By Ray Hickson
The barrier gods are yet to shine on Travancore this campaign but trainer Bryce Heys is adamant the best is still to come from the lightly raced four-year-old.
That’s because only three of his 13 starts have been as a gelding and it’s a gear change that has certainly turned Travancore’s fortunes around.
After overcoming the outside barrier to win at Randwick on New Year’s Day, Travancore will again have his work cut out to win the 2018 ATC Membership Handicap (1400m) at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
He’ll jump one from the outside alley but Heys said the horse now has the skills to overcome adversity.
“He’s always had a bit of natural ability but was a very backward and immature horse,’’ he said.
“He needed a lot of time. I kept him a colt for so long because he’s not the biggest horse and I thought it would help him out through his three-year-old prep.
“I wanted him to handle things better from a maturity standpoint but it wasn’t doing him any favours in terms of the way he was racing.
Travancore's last start win at Randwick - January 1
“He’s racing a lot more tractably this time in and his only problem is he can’t draw a barrier.”
Heys is keen to try Travancore over a mile at some stage this preparation and he’s also confident the horse will react to being ridden closer to the speed.
But he won’t be changing a lot about his racing pattern on Wednesday as he feels pushing forward to offset a wide gate could undo all the good work to date.
“He’s still working a few things out. I was dearly hoping we’d draw a barrier because I want to have the opportunity to ride him more forward but under the scenario he draws a barrier,’’ Heys said.
“I want to see if he’ll run a mile in time and I don’t want to be firing him out of the machines before we get there.
“If there is a day in the not too distance future he does draw a barrier we’ll have a go. From a wide barrier I don’t need to, things can turn to custard pretty quickly.’’
Travancore ran easily the fastest last 600m, according to Punters Intel data, when he ran down Smartedge to win over 1400m at Randwick third-up.
It was revenge for a close third behind that horse at their previous clash.
Apprentice Jean Van Overmeire is back from suspension and continues his association with Travancore who will carry 56.5kg after his 3kg claim.
“I thought he was pretty unlucky against Smartedge at Kembla in terms of the run he copped,’’ Heys said.
“So I was confident going into Randwick. But it is still a tough ask to come from Randwick and circle them but he still did it.
“As far as his chances go it’s going to depend on how far back he gets at Warwick Farm. If the race doesn’t pan out they might pinch it up front.
“Jean has a good understanding of this horse. If he is to run well again it will be definitely be because young Jean is riding.’’