Gray’s patience rewarded
By Jonny Turner
As he cruised to victory at Winton yesterday, The High Commander gave away no hints that he had tested the patience of trainer Brett Gray.
The three-year-old old dug deep to round out a polished performance and notch a maiden victory in just his fourth career start with Brent Barclay in the sulky.
Barclay had the pacer in front soon after the start, which put the three-year-old raced by Tapanui breeders Ross and Bev Ludemann and their family, in his happy place.
“He hates the grit which is why we have pressed forward in most of his races,” Gray said.
“He is not an easy horse to train, he has caused us plenty of headaches so it was good for him to get a result today.”
“That is the first time he has shown some real fight when the other horses have come up alongside him, it was pleasantly surprising.
“He is getting a bit better, but he has still got to learn to race in the field.”
“He is just like his mother, she was grit-shy as well.”
The High Commander’s win kept the perfect record his of his dam The High Life intact.
The Live Or Die mare has had six foals of racing age and each has made it to the winner’s circle either in New Zealand or Australia.
Among them is The Highlight who has gone on to leave two winners in Bettor’s Highlight and The High Ruler.
The High Ruler looked exceptional winning his only in September of last year but he never made it to the races again after he was lost to a paddock accident.
“That phone call to Ross was the hardest call I have ever had to make,” Gray said.
“He was a super horse and that took a bit of getting over.”
“Ross and his family have been great owners to me, I have trained for them for about six years and we have had quite a few winners now.”
The consistent Bettor’s Highlight, a full brother to The High Ruler, recently left the Gray stable after she was sold to Australia.
Gray plays to aim The High Commander at the upcoming grass track meetings on the Otago-Southland summer harness racing circuit.