Is Voodoo Lad the Most Improved Horse in Australia?
Saturday’s Group I Cantala Stakes (1600m) contender Voodoo Lad is living proof that time can be the most valuable commodity when it comes to racehorses.
Not often is there a Silver Lining to a horse injury but in the case of Voodoo Lad it prompted a change that propelled his career to new heights.
When the Son of I Am Invincible was purchased for $36,000 by Segenhoe Thoroughbreds at the 2013 Scone Yearling Sale, he was left in the care of local trainer Rod Northam.
Despite tasting defeat on debut as an odds-on favorite in a 2 year-old maiden at Gunnedah, Voodoo Lad proved he had above average ability when winning the $100,000 Inglis Challenge (1100m) on his home track before finishing 3rd in the Inaugural Country Championships Final (1400m) at Randwick less than a year later.
But soon after the Country Championships Final run, all was not well with Voodoo Lad. A rare disease that affects the cannon bones put the gelding’s racing future in jeopardy.
“It’s basically chronic soreness in the base of the cannon bone which is quite hard to diagnose. It’s not shown in lameness because it’s not in one leg,” Segenhoe Thoroughbreds’ Bill Mitchell said.
“We did not diagnose it quite right the first time and we just could not seem to get him right but once we worked out what it was we had to give him the time he needed.”
More than 12 months had passed before Voodoo Lad was seen at the races again and significantly, he was moved to the Warrnambool stables of Victoria’s premier trainer Darren Weir.
“We really needed to get him trained where he could be working on softer tracks and the cold water down there at Warrnambool has obviously helped him a lot,” Mr. Mitchell said.
Voodoo Lad hit the ground running for Weir, winning a Warrnambool benchmark 78 contest in May of this year, 8 starts later and the gelding continues to thrive under his new training regime, having recorded another four victories and he is now a Group I runner-up.
For a 4 and 5-year-old to rise 29 benchmark points in the one preparation is almost unheard of. He has effectively gone from being a fringe metropolitan grade horse to Group I class in the space of 6 months.
“We had to change something and it’s thankfully worked wonders for him. He might have eventually become a stakes horse but he’s certainly gone to a level we never expected,” Mitchell said.
“It’s staggering really.”
Win, lose or draw, Voodoo Lad will go out for a well-earned break following Flemington’s Cantala Stakes and there is no reason to say he cannot finish his breakthrough preparation on a high, especially after treating his rivals with utter contempt in the Group III Moonga Stakes (1400m) last start.
Voodoo Lad will jump from the outside gate on Saturday with Blake Shinn booked to ride.