Trainers are usually reluctant to make changes to a winning formula but Joe Pride is taking the winkers off Ball Of Muscle for his biggest test.
In a frightening prospect for his opposition, Pride believes Ball Of Muscle will be even better with the gear change in the Canterbury Classic.
The winner of six of his eight starts, Ball Of Muscle is favourite for Saturday’s Listed 1200m sprint ahead of Dothraki who has run second behind Our Boy Malachi at his past two starts.
Early in Ball Of Muscle’s career, Pride applied the winkers to kerb his tendency to race greenly.
Now that he is experienced, Pride believes the four-year-old needs to see his rivals in order to do his best at the business end of a race.
The trainer said although the gelding won his most recent start at Randwick, he thought his vision was restricted and he only concentrated once he saw another horse on his inside.
“He really needs to see his opposition, I’m pretty convinced of that,” Pride said.
“They’re a family that doesn’t respond that well to gear. I’ve had blinkers on Tiger a few times and if they improve them it’s not by much.”
Tiger is Ball Of Muscle’s brother and stablemate Tiger Tees, winner of the Group One Galaxy last year.
Also in the stable is their half brother Terravista, equal with Lankan Rupee at the top of the international ratings following his Darley Classic win at Flemington last month.
“You don’t like comparing them all the time but they’ve got a few similar traits and I reckon they like to be able to look at their opposition,” Pride said.
The gear change aside, all has gone smoothly with Ball Of Muscle.
“I’m really pleased with him,” Pride said.
“He’s in really good order. It’s his first go in stakes company but I think I’m taking him there at the right time.
“He seems to be in the right frame of mind.”
Jason Collett replaces the suspended Glyn Schofield aboard Ball Of Muscle on Saturday.