JARROD Robinson says his love for stayers is part by design and part forced upon him.
But the 38-year-old Bendigo trainer wouldn't have it any other way.
He has a natural affinity for nurturing and training stayers.
It's a fondness that dates back to his childhood and his affection for endurance events as a member of the Glenlyon and District Pony Club.
Robinson, who was Melbourne-born, but raised from age one at Drummond - about 17-kilometres west of Kyneton - was a pony club member up until he turned 18.
He recalls much of his time as a teenager being spent riding in the bush 'out the back of Drummond'.
Forever involved with horses, Robinson has continued to carry many of the lessons learned at his former pony club with him since becoming a trainer in his own right in 2015.
He hopes some of them might pay dividends when he saddles up Equine Philosopher in this Wednesday's $125,000 Kyneton Cup (2000m).
The four-year-old gelding will be one of the outsiders in the field, but that won't deter Robinson from having a crack at what is technically his home cup.
As a young farriery apprentice, he spent two years riding trackwork at Kyneton for Sue Naylor and Charles Cassar, and was for a time based there earlier in his training career before setting up base in Bendigo in 2019.
Staying horses have been a stable staple for Robinson, who claimed his lone country cup to date with Only A Mother in the 2019 Mount Wycheproof Cup, and has come close twice to adding another with Equine Philosopher.
"I think it's because I get a lot of average and second-hand and even third-hand horses and I seem to be able to get them fit and get them to run further," he said.
"I think it's the advantage with the way I train.
"Most of them end up staying as they are limited as sprinters, so I get them out here in the bush and get them to stay.
"I think it takes a lot more horsemanship to get them to stay, especially if they are not naturals.
"I come from an endurance background, I used to do endurance racing, so I've been able to use that with my training.
I come from an endurance background, I used to do endurance racing, so I've been able to use that with my training- Jarrod Robinson
"The biggest thing is they need to be able to relax and to breathe properly just to be able to finish the race off."
Robinson believed the natural bush setting, close to his stable complex at the back of the Bendigo racecourse, was particularly advantageous to his training methods.
Among the biggest beneficiaries has been Equine Philosopher, a maiden with eight previous starts to his name for Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr before his arrival in Bendigo a few months ago.
He has since raced eight times for two wins and three placings, his only real poor run coming in a $135,000 open three-year-old at Caulfield in July.
After back-to-back seconds in the Murtoa (2050m) and St Arnaud (2000m) cups - which followed consecutive wins at Echuca and Donald - Robinson said he was torn between running Equine Philosopher in either the Kyneton Cup or this Sunday's $70,000 Ararat Cup.
He's understandably thrilled to be running in the feature event at a track he's spent so much time at over the years and has that natural connection with.
"Looking at the noms, Kyneton didn't look as strong as I expected," Robinson said.
"There's meant to be a bit of rain around, so that suits him and has pushed me to go to Kyneton.
"Probably one of the lower (grade) country cups is his go, but if it was wet at Kyneton it would bring him into it a bit.
"He's just tough and honest - he doesn't have a lot of change-up speed or anything - but he just keeps going.
He's just tough and honest - he doesn't have a lot of change-up speed, or anything - but he just keeps going.- Jarrod Robinson
"He's been a good horse to me - he was only a maiden when he got here and I didn't think he'd get this far.
"He won a VOBIS maiden and his last two he has been placed in cups, so he's won over $60,000 at his his last few (starts). That keeps his owners, who bred him, happy.
"They just got (Equine Philosopher's) mum (Umatain) in foal to Tosen Stardom, so they are all happy with another one coming.
"I was pretty confident he could have won the St Arnaud Cup, but he just didn't quite get there.
"But, hopefully, he can get there in on eventually. He's pulled up well, so he will be ready to have another crack."
While Equine Philosopher has shown steady improvement since the move to Bendigo, he is arguably only the second-best stayer in the stable.
The contentious choice as the first-stringer belongs to Wellsford, who broke through for his second career win last week at Echuca over the 2400m trip.
It was a highly satisfying win after the five-year-old gelding's career was put on hold for nine months following a pedal bone injury and his first run back produced a disappointing last place over 2124m at Echuca on October 11.
Robinson said two words best summed up the enigmatic, but clearly talented Wellsford, whose 6.5 length win over 2400m at Cranbourne last November was as good as any the trainer has delivered in his young career: Hard work.
"I keep spruiking him up ... but ... he only just got there the other day," he said.
"He has a bit of brilliance this horse when he decides to do things properly, but he doesn't always do it."
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