In the past, Australian jumps racing has been the domain of failed flat performers.
Times have changed with quality flat horses now making their mark over obstacles.
Extra Zero, runner-up in one of Australia’s premier weight-for-age races, the Australian Cup at Flemington last year, is among the latest to have a career switch.
He will make his jumps debut in a maiden hurdle at Warrnambool on Tuesday.
The winner of five of his 86 starts with a further 27 placings and a touch more than $1.5 million prize money, Extra Zero was always destined for a career over jumps.
But while the rising 10-year-old was still competitive in good flat races, his transition was delayed.
Lindsay Park co-trainer Tom Dabernig said Extra Zero, who hasn’t raced since running fifth to Leebaz in the Easter Cup at Caulfield in March, was fit for Tuesday’s race after recent schooling sessions.
“He’s done a lot of jumping over his career in preparation for his flat races and we always knew that he would jump one day,” Dabernig said.
“It’s something that we’ve always wanted to do but the timing was never right.
“All the owners have been behind it and they’re all heading down to Warrnambool.
“He’s an amazing athlete with great flat form and if he can take that to his jumping, he should be pretty good at it.”
Dabernig said Extra Zero had not performed at his best on soft ground previously but he did not expect track conditions to be a factor early in the day.
Giving Dabernig extra confidence is the engagement of champion jumps jockey Steve Pateman who partners stablemate Honey Steel’s Gold in another division of the maiden hurdle on Tuesday.
“Fingers crossed,” Dabernig said of Extra Zero’s debut.
“It will be a good story for him if he wins.”