While the laid-back country life suits some, Group One-placegetter Man Of Choice’s penchant for relaxation has the capacity to blunt his professionalism.
But a move to on-course stables at Kembla Grange has switched him on ahead of Saturday’s Schweppes Handicap (1400m) at Randwick, according to trainer Luke Price.
Price is soon to enter a training partnership with his father Robert and the pair will maintain stables at Kembla Grange and their current base at Nowra.
Man Of Choice, who is one of a small string Price trains in his own name, is the first horse either of them have stabled at Kembla Grange.
Spending his days working on the track surrounded by other horses has tightened the horse up, Price said.
“It’s very laid-back at the farm and he’s a very laid-back horse when he wants to be,” he said.
“It’s just made him jump on the bridle a little bit more up here which he’s always done if we do have to go to the track to do a gallop.”
A little over a year ago, Man Of Choice was Price’s first Group One runner in the Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick where he finished third.
They pushed on to the Victoria Derby but Man Of Choice only beat home one runner and picked up a slight injury which put him behind for his next campaign.
Despite the setback, Man Of Choice returned to be beaten a nose in the Group Two Phar Lap Stakes in March.
He ended his autumn preparation by finishing runner-up to Mackintosh in a benchmark race at Hawkesbury with the winner going on to run third in the Group One Epsom Handicap earlier this month.
“I’m sure there’s still a very good horse there. He just needs to find the right race to get the confidence back,” Price said.
Dropping back in grade, Price believes Man Of Choice can win his first race in more than a year despite carrying 61.5kg.
The 33-year-old trainer is confident Man of Choice can return to the elite level and is looking to the Group Two Villiers Stakes as a medium-term target.
Price is hoping for a decent shower of rain to bring stablemate and $51 outsider Lani Girl into contention for the Alconex Fire Handicap (1400m).
“She drops in weight and I think that will bring her right in the race,” Price said.