Saleyards scrubs up well
By ADAM HICKS firstname.lastname@example.org A SCRUB-running preparation for Capilano Road saw the gelding claim an impressive two-length win in the $4000 Mullumbimby Cup (1600m) at Ballina on Saturday.
A cross-country training program around the hills of Parrots Nest set the six-year-old to come from last at the 600m mark to blitz the field in the home straight.
Jockey Lorna Cook brought the $11 chance five-wide into the straight and won pulling away from Danzig Red ($5) and Above and Beyond ($9) in third.
Trainer Owen Glue rated the win among Capilano Road's best and put it down to a move into the rocky countryside.
Capilano Road, otherwise known as Saleyards, the orphan raised by a surrogate mother, was among three horses relocated to owner Kevin Cocciola's property after they were allegedly poisoned at on-course stables at Lismore Turf Club last July.
Together with stablemates Joe Eva, which has won three of its past four starts, and Nailati, Capilano Road is now put through its paces in an off-track environment.
"It's a lot of hard work, running up steep hills and down hills and across creek beds," Cocciola said.
"They never knew how to walk up a hill or down a hill when I first took them home from the race track.
"Now you could ride them through a brick wall. The thickest rubbish you've ever see they would walk straight through.
"Ride them through a forest and they wouldn't stop or go sideways."
Glue said the horses had responded well to the change.
"Horses love to be in the environment they're in," Glue said.
"They're in big paddocks, nice big open boxes and yards; not couped up in boxes at a track going round and round in circles.
"I take them somewhere different every day. Some (training spots) have got hills, some are nice and flat and there's a 1000 metre Macadamia nut tree road that I ride them along.
"Once a week I take them for a swim in Ballina as well. That's why they're going so well ... they've got a nice lifestyle."
The tree change came with a few challenges but has also brought some unexpected benefits.
"They were just used to going round and round in circles all the time. Then you put them in an open paddock with barbed wire fence at the end ... you have to teach them a bit," Glue said.
"It's pretty rough terrain out at Parrots Nest with lots of rocks which makes them a lot better on their feet.
"I've climbed a few mountains on each horse, that teaches them a lot. They have all actually been straight over the top of Parrots Nest (a large hill thick with of scrub and trees).
"They're 'all-terrain vehicles' now. I could ride them off a cliff."
With training runs at the track only 'once in a blue moon', Glue has put the stopwatch into semi-retirement.
"We've got an old car that we've driven so we know distance of the different rides," he said.
"I gauge their progress by how they are eating and feeling and looking. I don't use watches. I just do what I think they need on that particular day. It's great. I'm in paradise."
Glue said the strength of Capilano Road's win was proof the alternative training methods were working.
"I'm not surprised he won. I was quite surprised by how easily he went from last to first and shot away and never stopped," he said.
"It was probably one of his best wins."