Breaking a lengthy winning drought that had spanned over two years, the now Bob Challis-trained 2011 Sydney Cup winner Stand To Gain proved they have genuine potential as a jumper with a hurdle win at Sandown Lake’s Sportingbet Park on Wednesday.
Formerly prepared by ace Sydney horseman Chris Waller, this season’s leading Group 1 winning trainer with eight trophies and the Tattersall’s Tiara in Brisbane this weekend in his sights, the imported Hawk Wing gelding was the upset winner as a $20 outsider in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick in April two years ago when relishing a nice light weight and seriously rain-affected track.
Until today however that had been their last victory with injury, setbacks and poor form seeing the stayer perform well below par over the past couple of seasons.
Stand To Gain was moved from Waller to Challis’ Kyneton base earlier this year but it was the same disappointing results right from the start when they were dead last in the Elmore Cup over the Bendigo mile in April.
Failing to make any kind of impression in the flat racing scene, Stand To Gain beaten by over 20 lengths each time in their past three runs, connections decided to give jumps another go.
It proved a winning move too with the rising eight-year-old taking out the $35,000 Caulfield Spring Dining On Sale Hurdle (3300m) by four and a half lengths over Love Or Gold ($8.50) as a $26 roughie at today’s midweek meet.
The Patrick Payne-trained Fieldmaster ($4) then finished off the trifecta eight lengths off the winner.
Rediscovering their winning form Stand To Gain beat home a field that featured many prominent hurdlers having had one previous jumps start under the care of Robert Smerdon when they failed to finish a two mile feature at Bendigo in May last year as an odds-on $1.50 favourite.
Challis and co. however believe they now have the horse worked out after Stand To Gain bought their winning trail form from Werribee to the races today.
“I was a little bit surprised with the trial form he had that he was that price,” co-trainer and Challis’ partner Liz Irwin said.
“He’s been doing a few things wrong since he came down from Sydney, but we’ve got it all together now.”
Irwin was confident Stand To Gain could continue to be a success for their stable and would be given a chance to prove themselves in steeplechasing during next year’s Grand National Steeplechase after one more hurdles start.