CHARLTON trainer Michael Gadsden could have been forgiven for thinking Balmy Bob was cursed.
In respect to the late-maturing six-year-old pacing gelding, it's largely been a case of anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
But on Thursday night at Swan Hill, the wheel finally turned, with the son of Modern Art and the mare Kentucky Sarah doing everything right en route to his first win in the Battlers of the Bush Maiden Pace.
It took nine starts, loads of patience and heaps more persistence on behalf of Gadsden and training partner and reinswoman Denbeigh Wade and the gelding's owner John Kennedy, from Pyramid Hill.
"He's always showed something at home, but he has just struggled to bring it to the race track," Gadsden said.
"He's never really had much of a draw or much luck in his runs.
"It wasn't a surprise, but we were hoping for a bit of luck and we finally got it.
"He hadn't even run a place (before Thursday), but he'd had a couple of fourths and fifths.
"He just seemed one of those horses, if there was any bad luck, or if one galloped in the run, he was the one who seemed to find it.
"But we always said, the night he gets to lead is the night he's a good chance of winning and it just panned out that way."
A long-awaited victory delivered Wade her 99th career win in the sulky.
Connections are now hoping Balmy Bob can kick on and hopefully add another.
"It's hard to say really, whether he will or not," Gadsden said.
"The last couple of weeks he's been a lot more switched on at home - he has always been a bit of a lazy horse and a bit blasé about life.
"But the last few weeks he's started to spark up a bit.
"He is six years old and a bit of a late bloomer."
Balmy Bob only started racing as a five-year-old, making his debut at Boort in February last year.
Thursday night's run was the fourth in his second preparation.
He was originally trained by his owner Kennedy, but was sent to Gadsden and Wade early last year in a bid to kickstart his career.
"John always pokes around with a few, but (Balmy Bob) was just one of those horses who never really clicked," he said.
"He had been working him off and on, pretty much since he was broken in, but he never really showed much interest in being a racehorse.
"John rang me to see if I would take Captain Bling as a three-year-old last year and then he rang me the next day to say his brother is here and he probably needs working with other horses as well.
"John said 'I'll send him over for a week or two, see what you think'.
"He ended up getting a little better and ended up qualifying and he never went home."
The win formed part of a mixed week for the Charlton-based duo with Maorishadow being retired after succumbing to a tendon injury.
A Group 2 winner in the 2020 Vicbred Platinum Trotting Mares Sprint Championship and Group 3 winner in last year's Tontine Trotting Championship, Maorishadow bows out after eight wins and five placings from 41 starts for earnings of $83,380.
The seven-year-old, who is owned by Stephen Blacker, had not raced since last July and is set for a career as a broodmare.
"She was a good horse, but she always had her problems," Gadsden said.
"She would pull and hang a bit, which it turns out she had this leg injury brewing for years and it finally gave way.
"It was probably the reason she always went well first-up or fresh and after that she would start pulling and overracing.
"She probably carried a long time, so she did a great job."
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