BENDIGO trainer Jarrod Robinson hopes The Wrangler can capitalise on some handy recent form for his stable at Wangaratta on Tuesday.
Despite going without a win in 17 starts since his last victory at Donald in June last year, the six-year-old gelding rarely runs a bad race, highlighted by his seven placings and three fourths in that time span.
The Wrangler, to be ridden by the in-form Mikaela Lawrence, will be backing up from an impressive third behind Zooming Zebra over 1206m at Benalla on August 30, when the gelding stormed home from back in the field in a reversal of his usual front-running role.
With a pair of placings alongside his name from his last two starts, Robinson hopes the gelding is close to breaking his drought.
"He's had a bit of a frustrating prep because he hasn't won one, but he is racing really well," he said.
"I don't think he ever runs a really bad race, or if he does it's pretty rare.
"He just hasn't stuck his head in front for a while."
Ultra-consistent throughout his career, The Wrangler has won four of 35 starts and been placed 10 times for nearly $110,000 in prizemoney.
Robinson is in two minds as to which race tactics to employ.
"It will depend on the horse a bit, he will come out neutral, but if nothing else goes hard, he'll probably end up in front," he said.
"If a few of them run along a bit, hopefully, he can slide in behind something.
"He missed the start last time and was back in distance, but because the other horse went so fast out in front, it set it up for the others to run home.
"Had he have went with (Mr Grumpy), he would have stopped as well."
Robinson has enjoyed recent success with Equine Philosopher, who made it back-to-back victories with his benchmark 0-58 success over 2000m at Donald on Sunday.
The four-year-old gelding has been with Robinson since mid-year for six starts for two wins, a third and a fourth and has been ridden in both of his wins by Lawrence.
His only real blemish came at city-level in a $135,000 three-year-old event at Caulfield in July when he beat only one runner home.
"He came from Mick Price's - the same owners still have him - but Mick thought he wasn't quite good enough to be down there, so he's come up here," Robinson said.
"He's certainly paid his way, winning $40,000 in his last two. Hopefully, he can keep it up.
"We probably pushed him in a little bit harder than we should have early, trying to get him to that three-year-old race in town. We aimed a bit too high there.
"We gave him a bit of a freshen up after that and since he's come back to his right grade he's gone well."
With his back-to-back wins over the 2000-2100m distance, Robinson hopes to target some of the smaller country cups on offer during the spring with Equine Philosopher.
"It depends on whether they will run them, they've already called Gunbower off," he said.
"He would be a nice non-TAB cups horse.
"A few of the bigger ones have committed to running, even if they can't get a crowd."
One potential target would be the Wycheproof Cup, which Robinson won with Only A Mother in 2019, the last time the race was run.
Meanwhile, the horse Robinson rates as the best in his stable Wellsford is preparing for a return to racing for the first time in nine months.
The five-year-old staying gelding has not raced since injuring his pedal bone in a 3000m race at Moonee Valley last December, which followed an emphatic 6.5 length maiden win over 2600m at Cranbourne the previous month.
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