Since making the switch from equestrian sports to horse racing full time, trainer David Brideoake has been a quiet achiever.
On Saturday, Brideoake saddles Hardham in the 2017 Caulfield Cup, his first runner in the world’s richest 2400m-handicap.
“I’ve had a few just about at the mark before but they haven’t quite got there,” Brideoake said.
Brideoake’ was well regarded in equestrian circles as a representative of the Australian Show Jumping team and in 2000 he was short-listed for the Sydney Olympics.
While he was still pursuing show jumping, Brideoake also dabbled with a small team of racehorses and became a full time trainer in 2000.
He has had success in feature races but Caulfield Cup glory would take it to another level.
Hardham is a $41 outsider but Brideoake insists the four-year-old has had a good campaign, despite being disappointed with his last-start second as odds-on favourite in a 2000m-race at Caulfield on October 1.
“On the positive side I’m just so happy with how he’s done since that run,” Brideoake said.
“We all had a meeting and decided to give him his chance and I like horses that are on the improve.
“It’s that time after their classic year where they are placed in a Derby or an Oaks.
“He’s got a lightweight so I’m happy to give him his chance.”
Hardham finished third to Jon Snow in the Australian Derby on an unsuitable heavy track in Sydney in the autumn, beaten less than a length.
Brideoake always considered 2000m to 2400m would be Hardham’s best distance and he sees no reason to change his mind.
Hardham will carry 52.5kg in the Caulfield Cup which has a weight scale of a 56kg topweight and 50kg minimum.
Brideoake said finding the right jockey to ride Hardham at 52.5kg, and remain strong, had been difficult with the job going to Craig Newitt who has recently relocated with his family to Tasmania.
“Craig rode him quite early in his career and I thought he will be able to do a good job,” Brideoake said.
“He’s a very experienced rider around Caulfield and he’s also a good rider on colts and stallions.”