NEARLY eight months off the racing scene has failed to stop the highly promising three-year-old Betternbetter showing his immense potential in his return to the harness racing track.
The Keith Cotchin-trained pacer made it two wins from two starts this year, with a fearless victory in the Pridmore Electrics Three-Year-Old Final at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night.
It followed his dominant first-up win at Kilmore on January 3.
Those wins have earned the comeback pacer his crack at the $200,000 Group 1 Victoria Derby on January 26.
Derby heats will be run during PETstock Ballarat Cup night this Saturday.
A Derby tilt could not have looked any more improbable for Betternbetter in the days after his Group 2 Empire Stallions VicBred Platinum Home Grown Classic for two-year-old colts and geldings in May last year, when the exciting pacer suffered a potentially career-ending and indeed life threatening colic attack.
If not for the quick action of his trainer in realising something was amiss with the gelding and the ‘excellent’ work of vets at the Bendigo Equine Centre, that’s where the Betternbetter story may have ended.
Instead, the Elmore-based trainer is eagerly looking forward to his shot at a second Victoria Derby win.
“He’s been an amazing little horse for us and has come back good and is going well,” Cotchin said.
“We expected him to be very hard to beat in Friday night’s race … we like to think he’s up there with the best of the three-year-olds.
“He will get his chance to prove that this weekend.
“At the end of his two-year-old year, before he got the colic, he was right up there with the best, but I guess you never really know what’[s going to happen after they have an operation and time off from racing.
“But every time he has stepped away from home he’s been well, so we’re very happy.
“We were really close to losing him it was a bit of fluke really that he lived. They did a great job down there at Bendigo Equine Centre.”
Cotchin previously won the Derby with Tabini Bromac in 2008 and believes Betternbetter has a similar x-factor about him following six win from seven career starts.
But the veteran trainer fully acknowledges the Derby will be another ‘big step-up in class’ for his stable star and was taking nothing for granted against a quality list of contenders.
“It’s hard to have too much confidence against these types of horses – you can’t underrate any of them,” he said.
“But we feel he’s right there with them and I am sure he will go well.
“He’s got speed and can stay and is a horse who can put himself into a race if need be. He’s quite exciting.”
Betternbetter was one half of a winning double for Cotchin at Melton on Friday.
He earlier scored a win with Rocknroll Noah, who broke through for his first win since September 25 at Bendigo and added career win number seven from 28 starts.
A productive two days for Cotchin kicked-off last Thursday when the five-year-old mare Gone Too far won a C3 to C4 pace at Kilmore.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.