There will be a little bit of the old and the new when David Pfieffer heads to Randwick to saddle up his first Sydney Saturday runners since returning from a nine-month ban.
The trainer was suspended for 12 months last year, reduced to nine for his good record and co-operation, after he substituted his urine sample during a random test by stewards in 2019.
Pfieffer took the penalty on the chin, making sure he used the break from racing to spend precious time with his young family and to reassess his training and business models.
“I got forced onto the sidelines but it has done me the world of good mentally and it has made me recalibrate, look at a few different angles, whether it’s the way I train or the way I run the business,” Pfieffer said.
“After a couple of weeks, I tried to find the positives as opposed to sitting at home thinking about the negatives.
“If you sit there thinking about the negatives, you put yourself into a dark place.”
It is a reflection on Pfieffer’s character that he has already filled his 26 boxes at Warwick Farm and many of the horses he was training prior to his penalty have returned to him, including Broken Arrows who will be one of his two Randwick runners.
The gelding will be joined by some young blood in the form of two-year-old Vegas Raider, a barnstorming winner of the Inglis Challenge on debut at Scone last month.
Pfieffer bought the sway-backed son of Invader for just $38,000 and credited Robert and Luke Price with doing the early work with the horse prior to him regaining his licence.
Vegas Raider will go into Saturday’s Schweppes Handicap (1100m) with a month between runs but a barrier trial last week has kept him up to the mark and Pfieffer is optimistic the youngster can give the race a shake.
“Sometimes you have to question the form out of these restricted races, but I think the race (Inglis Challenge) this year had depth to it,” he said.
“Over the last month he has grown a hell of a lot in confidence. Before, he was like a scared little puppy dog and didn’t want to walk out of his box.
“I think he rates himself a bit now.”
With her brother and fellow jockey Jason Collett in Brisbane, Alysha Collett has picked up the ride on Vegas Raider and also partners Broken Arrows for Pfieffer in the Celebration Of Women In Racing Handicap (1000m).