By Ray Hickson
It’s often called the unkindest cut but in Purple Sector’s case it's clear gelding has been the making of him and trainer John Thompson is hoping the $1m The Gong (1600m) at Kembla Grange is the first of many big race wins for the five-year-old this season.
It's already been a big week for the Randwick trainer who is chasing his second $1m feature following Sweet Deal's brilliant win in The Hunter at Newcastle.
There’s no doubt Purple Sector always showed talent, he ended his three-year-old season as a Group 3 winner but he disappeared into the wilderness at four hence the decision to turn him into a racehorse.
The transformation was immediate and Thompson is adamant Purple Sector can only get better.
“I’m firmly of the belief when you geld a horse they are better the second preparation after being gelded,’’ he said.
“They’ve had the time to adjust and become more genuine. He has already shown that so if he can improve off the back of this prep we’ll really be cooking with gas.
"I was pretty confident it would work, he always had nice ability and you could tell he had more to give.
“It was on the cards for a while, we gave him more chances than we should have but in the end we said 'let’s just do it' and it was a good call.’’
As he chases a hat-trick, Purple Sector’s reaction to being gelded has Thompson excited about the horse’s future.
He resumed with a close second over 1400m in September then clocked the fastest last 200m of the TAB Everest (11.32, Punter’s Intelligence) meeting in a three length win at the Randwick mile before stepping out to 1800m and getting the job done at Flemington.
Thompson said the latest win looked pretty ugly with the horse seemingly not comfortable at all but the fact he was still good enough to win says plenty about his fortitude these days.
“It looked terrible, from the jump he never travelled at any stage of the race but he was good enough to get himself out of trouble,’’ he said.
“Again he ran good time doing it and it confirmed he was going well.
“We left it up to what he did when he came back as to whether we would press on. If he showed us he needed a break we’d have left him out but within two or three days he’d freshened back up to his old personality.
“We’ll take it one run at a time and let him tell us but he is showing us he is a good horse and there’s plenty of options for him.”
Those include sticking around for the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) next month to earn an exemption into the Group 1 Doncaster Mile during The Championships.
Rachel King has the ride on Purple Sector and she made a special trip to Randwick on Tuesday morning to work the horse and get re-acquainted.
“She had to go to Godolphin but she was pretty keen to get a feel of him so she came in on the way to Warwick Farm and afterwards she seemed happy to do so,’’ he said.
“He worked very well on Tuesday, it looks like it is going to be a dry week so it’s exciting.”
Purple Sector wins over a mile at Randwick on October 17
It wouldn’t shock Thompson if Dunbrody Power chalked up successive wins for the first time in her career in the Traffic Logistics Handicap (1200m) though he concedes she’s at the mercy of how the race pans out.
The five-year-old produced a burst from last to win over 1100m at Kensington on October 28 and Thompson has deliberately given her three weeks between runs.
“She does seem to be going a bit better this time in,’’ he said.
“She is handling things a lot better after having a decent prep last time in.
“But she’s a backmarker. They need things to go their way and more often than not they don’t. When they do she can really rattle off some sectionals.”
Meanwhile, Thompson said Hunter winner Sweet Deal is enjoying a break in the paddock following her big win last weekend.