The recent form turnaround of five-year-old gelding Onthelookout can be attributed to some smart gear changes according his trainers.
The horse has jumped up the grades and will have now have a crack at claiming his first Listed level win this Saturday in the Civic Stakes at Rosehill Gardens.
Onthelookout always had ability but his erratic racing pattern meant he’d pull early on in his races so the decision was made to take off his blinkers and step up the distance.
It was a last gasp plan of sorts if he were to ever make the top garde but it’s paid off for co-trainers Barbara Joseph and Paul Jones.
In his first start under the new conditions he went to 1400m and won the PJ Bell Country Cup.
Following that he travelled to Rosehill last Saturday and was the second horse home over 1350m with the Group rated Little Surfer Girl ahead of him.
So pleased are they with the progress that he’ll take on this weekend’s Civic stakes with a return to Listed company in the Winter Stakes over 1500m firmly on the cards.
“We would have had to wait three weeks for the Winter Stakes and he would have been a bit fresh so we decided to go for this,” Jones said.
“If all goes well he’ll head to the Winter Stakes, we want to give him a chance over 1500 metres.
“Up until this preparation he hadn’t gone beyond 1200 or 1300 metres.
“We took the blinkers off a couple of starts ago and it has done the trick in terms of getting him to settle.”
He’s always been an incredibly consistent horse but he by being able to settle in the pack now appears to have found that winning edge.
He’s finished in the money in 20 of 30 careers and there’s only been a couple of runs in his entire career where he’s finished towards the tail of the field.
He has run at black type level before and he was far from disgraced finishing third to Lebrechaun in the National Sprint over 1400m in Canberra back in March.
He’ll jump from gate eight on Saturday and will be looking for exactly the same run he had last start settling behind the leaders on the fence and getting a run along the rails.
Connections have stuck with jockey Adam Hyeronimus, the same rider which won on him in the Country Cup two starts back.
He runs into quite a good field and one which has an extremely diverse mix of entries.
One which will have plenty of attention is the aging champion Snipers Bullet, the former champion without a win since the end of 2009.
A big contender is likely to be Onthelookout’s last start conqueror Little Surfer Girl who makes up an imposing team for Chris Waller alongside Altered Boy and Gigino.
Another big player is the surprise winner of the Takeover Target Stakes at Gosford, Joe Pride’s Title upsetting the apple cart and putting a big target on his chest.
“Title is obviously the horse to beat but if you go back three starts we finished fourth alongside him behind Khas Kura,” Jones said.
“Personally, I think that was his worst run this preparation.
“It was his last day in blinkers and that day he over raced but we’ve taken the blinkers off now.”