Chris Waller remembers Ashkannd’s last run at Flemington like it was yesterday and Sydney’s premier trainer is now waiting to see if the gelding has a future beyond his next start at Rosehill.
The six-year-old makes his return on Saturday from a lay-off of more than a year in a benchmark 78 over 1500m, his first start since he was found to have a tendon strain after his third in the Flemington race in May last year.
“He ran a slasher first-up at Flemington 12 months ago. He’s a really handy horse,” Waller said.
“It’s great to have him back. They can need a run or two but he’s as well as we can have him.”
Waller said Ashkannd, who has three wins from 13 starts since arriving at his Rosehill stable from France in late 2014, should not be underestimated on his comeback given he has not finished worse than third in his past seven races.
However, there is still an element of doubt.
“A horse can recover from a strain though it’s arguable whether they ever get back to the full stretch and full tendon profile,” Waller said.
“They basically have six months off and six months gradual work back to the racetrack. It’s a costly exercise but if you do it that way it gives them a chance.”
Waller also has four-year-old mare Pioneering on the comeback trail from injury in a 1200m-benchmark race.
“She’s had a good long spell. She was the find of the winter last year,” Waller said.
“She had a purple patch and won three races this time last year and picked up some really good prize money.”
Waller has no runners at the Queensland feature meeting at Ipswich on Saturday so other than monitoring the returns of Ashkannd and Pioneering, the Kensei Handicap (2000m) is a focus.
Winter campaigners Montauk and So Willie are among the 17 nominations.
“Montauk is an honest as the day is long. He’s no superstar but he’s starting to give the punter a good sight in comparison to where he was 12 months ago. He’ll be competitive,” Waller said.
Rosehill was in the heavy range on Tuesday, the type of ground fellow four-year-old So Willie appreciates with three of his five wins on wet tracks.