An inspired ride by top jockey Michael Rodd helped rejuvenated six year old Metal Bender return to Group 1 glory in taking out the Group 1 $400,000 Daily Telegraph George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill today.
Metal Bender was having his second start after being away from the race track for over a year recovering from a tendon injury but trainer Chris Waller was able to nurse the gelding back to the winner’s stall.
The six year old put the writing on the wall when he resumed for a third to More Joyous in the Group 2 $175,000 Myer Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill on March 24 and with Rodd sticking with him today was able to get the best out of him.
Waller said that as well as having a tendon injury, Metal Bender was also under constant treatment to control a bleeding problem.
“It’s just an amazing performance. To get these old horses back, it’s a big effort for a horse off a long time. Plenty of work go into these old horses,” Waller said.
“He’s a bleeder and he has tendons and you can’t get many more problems than that. “
Waller was quick to praise the effort of his old favourite Rangirangdoo who hit the front in inside the final two hundred metres and ended up finishing sixth, less than a length from the winner.
“Rangi went super and it was a good ride from Corey. It looked like he was going to be in trouble, but he managed to get cover, looked the winner two hundred out and just died on his run a little bit. Probably dropping back from 2000m might have taken a bit of zing out of him but he showed that he was still there. His legs have never been better, touch wood,” Waller said.
Waller hasn’t made any firm plans for Metal Bender’s next assignment, but will chose between the Group 1 $400,000 All Aged Stakes (1400m) and the Group 1 $500,000 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) both at Randwick on April 28.
Rod said that Metal Bender appreciated the pace of the race after noted leader King Mufhasa set up a good tempo with Niagara putting pressure on coming to the home turn.
At the 200m there were more than half a dozen winning chances, but Rodd was able to push Metal Bender up along the fence to score by a nose from Rekindled Interest who dived through the middle for Dwayne Dunn.
Metal Bender got the photo decision which saw only three quarters of a length cover the first six placegetters.
“I was back in a pretty ordinary spot but the pace was on and I could see things were happening and it was really opening up for me. I had Albert The Fat moving forward and Secret Admirer really going into the race and they opened up the gaps,” Rodd said.
“He was really strong the last hundred metres and that’s when he was at his best, he had a clear run and he got there.”
Metal Bender was sent at the good odds off $15 with runnerup Rekindled Interest at $26 and third placegetter Secret Admirer at $9.
Favourite Niagara ($4.80) loomed up at the top of the straight but faded to finished up twelfth.