By Ray Hickson
You could say it was love at first sight - from the moment Kim Waugh laid eyes on Erno there was never a doubt that she was going to snap him up.
As the promising youngster attempts to continue the perfect start to his career in the TAB Clarendon Stakes (1300m) at Hawkesbury, Waugh said he has so much upside she’s excited to see what he can produce when he returns from a break.
“I still think he's six months away, but he's done a great job,’’ she said.
“I thought as soon as I gave him a test out that he has a bit of ability but he's kept improving.’’
Erno’s unassuming nature is probably the reason he set Waugh back just $70,000 to buy him and she said there was no trouble attracting owners, including the gelding’s breeder Ralph Jones plus her husband Mark.
She trained Erno’s mother Little Mary, who was a more robust horse standing around 17 hands, but says he’s definitely thrown to the sire’s side.
“We looked at him and I said ‘Mark, I love him’,’’ Waugh said.
“He was really athletic and looked more like a Rubick than the mum. He was immature at the time but you could see he was going to furnish. I thought he was really cheap.’’
Erno has already amassed over $55,000 from his two wins to date and if he can join a very handy Clarendon Stakes honour roll he’ll definitely prove a ‘cheap’ buy as his prizemoney haul will more than double.
The race last year was won by Graff, who has developed into a high class three-year-old and ran fifth in the 2018 The Everest.
Waugh said Erno’s last start all the way win at Warwick Farm was a dominant performance and sees no reason why he can’t wrap up his preparation with another win.
“He puts himself in the race, he can lead, it's nice to have a horse that's versatile like him,’’ she said.
“Blake (Shinn) gave him a big rap (after last start), he says he's such a professional who does whatever you want and doesn't touch the bit.
“It's more than likely he will go to the paddock after this, I'll look after him because he's not there yet.’’
Erno makes it two from two at Warwick Farm on April 17
With Blake Shinn riding in Brisbane, Sam Clipperton will guide the $2.25 TAB favourite on Saturday.
Waugh is quietly confident she can start the day with a win as King Viv ($8) tackles the Richmond Club Provincial Stayers Handicap (2100m) on the back of a couple of eye-catching placings.
“He just needed to get back onto a dry track,’’ she said.
“His work has been great, I think he will be a really good chance.’’