Victorian gelding Mirage was in need of a GPS at his Sydney debut when his waywardness almost certainly cost him victory.
But a subsequent seven-length barrier trial win has earned him a chance to restore his reputation in the TAB Rewards Handicap at Rosehill on Saturday.
Trainer Peter Moody has made an important gear change, removing the five-year-old’s blinkers and adding a nose roll but the stable admits the rest is up to the horse.
“We thought we’d change it up. He trialled really well and he doesn’t behave poorly at trackwork,” Moody’s Sydney representative Clare Cunningham said.
“It’s just a matter of what he brings on the day.”
The lightly raced Mirage has presented connections with a constant stream of challenges.
Early in his career he was a barrier rogue but still managed to win his first three starts in Victoria before he was sold to Hong Kong.
However, his barrier issues resurfaced there and he was sent back to Moody after winning his only start at Sha Tin.
A solid fifth in Listed grade when he resumed in March, Mirage was wayward at his next run at Caulfield then threw the race away in his first Sydney start when he drifted towards the outside fence and was beaten less than a length.
“He has a few tricks under his belt. We got him over the barrier problems and now he’s doing this,” Cunningham said.
“He’s got ability, he just has a quirky personality.
“We just try to have him healthy and happy and I’ve been really pleased with him this week.”
Sam Clipperton will ride Mirage for the first time on Saturday and plans to jump aboard the horse well prepared.
“I will just have to keep my wits about me and tighten my seat belt,” Clipperton said.
“If he puts it all together he’s going to be hard to beat.”
Meanwhile, the Chris Waller stable has confirmed Danchai, an acceptor in Sydney and Brisbane on Saturday, will bypass his local meeting to tackle the Listed Ipswich Cup.