While Mt Gambier trainer Dean Saxon had been hoping for the rain to roll in in time for this weekend’s $100,000 David Bourke Provincial Plate at Flemington, he will have to remain content with a dead rated track.
Saxon’s impressive wet track performer Riceman has a record of producing thrilling runs on soft ground, but isn’t always able to deliver when the track is dry.
The 10-year-old veteran has won seven of his 10 races on heavy tracks, and his trainer had expected this weekend could have been another.
“I said to the owners this is his time of the year but there has been only 10mm of rain at Flemington this week,” Saxon said.
“I’m so disappointed because its been raining everywhere else.”
Riceman finished fifth by one and a half lengths in this same race last year in his sixth run of the season.
“We’ve set him for this race,” Saxon said.
“We’ve held him back a month and he’s going into it at his fifth run in this time.”
The trainer is now setting his hopes on the remainder of the winter to provide Riceman with the wet tracks he so desperately needs.
“We’re zeroing in to July and August with him,” he said.
Last September Riceman beat fellow Provincial Plate competitor Fasmoss on a dead track in the Golden Mile at Bendigo.
“We meet Fasmoss three kilos better for that meeting so we’re well placed in the race,” Saxon said.
Saxon is also extremely pleased with Riceman’s barrier draw of eight.
“We’ve got the perfect barrier to come sweeping down the middle but unfortunately for us the track is looking like it will be a fraction too dry for him,” Saxon said.
“We might just have to be patient and accept it.
“What it does is let the others quicken but a heavy track takes away their dash but makes no difference to this horse.”
Saxon took over the training of Riceman in November 2009 after the gelding had been retired twice by other trainers due to a variety of ailments.
The trainer rates Riceman as a great find.
“He’s had a tendon, he’s been a bleeder and he nearly lost an eye, but when I got him he was as good as gold,” Saxon said.
“He’d had a year off and was sound.
“He’s been no issue for me at all.”
Saxon believes Riceman thrives on his style of training, in which he takes the horses barefoot from a vehicle through a pine forest located near his property.
“It has a sandy surface with nice hills and they do plenty of mileage work,” he said.
“It’s been a big part in keeping this horse sound and happy.”
Riceman has won three races for Saxon during the past 18 months and has earned him around $170,000 in prize money.