The horse that could have easily cost Hugh Bowman a chance at winning another Sydney jockeys’ premiership has taken a major step towards redemption.
Californian Man parted ways with Bowman when in a winning position in a race at Canterbury last month, earning a temporary bar from racing until he could mend his manners.
Bowman was caught off guard when Californian Man made an abrupt shift towards the outside at the 200m and he fell heavily but escaped injury as he prepared to fight out the riders’ title with James McDonald and Blake Shinn.
There was no such drama for replacement jockey Jay Ford in the Tab.com.au Plate at Warwick Farm on Wednesday as Californian Man navigated a trouble-free course to post his first win from six starts.
Trainer Matthew Smith said it was still difficult to think about a winning result despite Californian Man having the race in his keeping well before the finish.
“If it was any other horse you’d just watch it win but with him you close your eyes for the last 100 metres,” Smith said.
Californian Man raced in blinkers on Wednesday in a gear switch Smith regrets not making before his Canterbury misadventure.
“I nearly put the blinkers on after Kembla but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Smith said.
“He’s never ever given any sign of anything at home. When you get horses who are bad at trackwork they do all sorts of stuff but he doesn’t care about anything.
“He’s not a bad horse. He’s just a bit immature and a bit timid, I reckon.”
Appropriately, there was a Royal Ascot flavour to the midweek meeting with the first three winners sired by two horses who left their mark on the famous racing festival.
Fulfilled Promise and Stop The Press are by the 2003 Golden Jubilee Stakes winner Choisir and Surfin’ Safari is a son of the 2010 hero Starspangledbanner.
Melissa Harrison was left wondering why she hadn’t relocated to Kembla Grange sooner after Mydream made it three wins from her past four starts in the Liverpool City Council Handicap (1600m).
“I moved back to Kembla from Taree about two months ago to give my horses a better chance at city racing,” she said.
Mydream ($17) defied a pattern of winners coming wide to skirt through along the inside for apprentice Jess Taylor to edge out Sensualism ($7.50) by a neck.