Trainer Robert Smerdon says Black And Bent is in peak form but he is taking nothing for granted as the outstanding jumper tries for a record-equalling win at Warrnambool.
Black And Bent is odds-on favourite for Wednesday’s Galleywood Hurdle and a second victory in the race will ensure he equals a long-standing record for successive jumps wins.
The record is held by Lots Of Time who won nine straight in Victoria in the late 1960s before his winning run came to an end when he was runner-up under 67kg in the 1969 Grand National Hurdle.
“He has to give them weight so he has to be on his game,” Smerdon said of Black And Bent’s Galleywood task against main dangers Gotta Take Care and Above Average.
“But he’s done everything right. He’s going into the race as he has in the past when he went there two years ago and won the Galleywood.
“He’s a more seasoned horse now. He’s going just as well so you have to be confident I think.”
Smerdon came close to the record with Black And Bent’s older half-brother Some Are Bent who won eight straight before finishing third as odds-on favourite behind Spanish Symbol in the 2007 A V Hiskens Steeplechase at Moonee Valley.
“Some Are Bent got to within one of the record so we’ve got close before,” Smerdon said.
“I guess there is a bit of pressure on the horse but we’ll just approach it like a normal race.”
Black And Bent made it eight straight at his first jumps outing for the year when he won a 3300m hurdle at Sandown under 70kg by five lengths from Cats Fun on April 18.
He will have seven rivals and is equal topweight with 68kg with Desert Master under the set weights and penalties conditions of the Galleywood (3200m).
Black And Bent has been ridden by Steve Pateman at his past six jumps appearances and he takes the mount again.
The six-year-old’s winning sequence began in April 2010 and has continued despite a tendon injury he suffered when runner-up to Niptious in a 2500m flat race at Moonee Valley in July that year.
“Because he has had a tendon injury he does a lot of work on the treadmill,” Smerdon said.
“He does a lot of his slow work and pace work at the track but he does most of his fast work on a treadmill.
“The only time he really gallops is when he goes to a trial or a race.”
Black And Bent opened $1.40 favourite with TAB Sportsbet ahead of Above Average at $7 with Gotta Take Care and Tuscan Fire both at $10.