When it comes to Ball Of Muscle, a quick glance at the horse’s family history tells Joe Pride that age really is just a number.
At eight, it would be fair to assume the speedster is past his best but given his half-brothers performed at the highest level as older horses, Pride has no doubt multiple Group winner Ball Of Muscle still has plenty to offer.
“Tiger Tees was six or seven when he won the Galaxy and Terravista won his Group Ones at four-years-old and six-years-old,” Pride said.
“They’re not a family who produce their best early but they certainly train on.”
He contested the sprint in 2016 and missed a place for the first time in 18 starts, then finished last the following year.
No doubt Pride is hoping for third time lucky, although he is already counting his blessings just having Ball Of Muscle back and fit following a bleeding attack that derailed a planned summer campaign in Perth.
Winx’s sparring partner Happy Clapper has returned successfully this autumn following a similar incident and Pride is confident Ball Of Muscle won’t have any ill effects from his bleed.
“We see good horses come back from these sorts of things, not regularly, but often enough that it gives me confidence he is going to go really well,” Pride said.
“I know this horse like one of my kids and he just seems like he’s in great order.
“He’s making all the right noises and seems, within himself, to be a really happy, fit athlete who should go out and perform and he’s a very consistent horse.”
Redzel is $1.70 to win the Challenge with Golden Slipper winner Estijaab the only other horse given a serious chance to beat him at $3.40.
Ball Of Muscle is on the third line of betting at $10 with Jonker scratched to run in the Fireball Quality earlier in the program.
Pride concedes Redzel is a worthy favourite but he is not discounting an upset.
“He’s favourite for a reason but we’re not going to go there to make up the numbers or think we can only run second. We’re going there to give it a real shake,” Pride said.