Physical strength plays a major part in riding horses, but Sam Clipperton has had to use just as much brain power to get Mirage home at Rosehill.
The talented gelding has a history of barrier problems and added a new string to his bow at Randwick last month when he veered sideways and cost himself a win.
After a barrier trial win he was back at the races on Saturday as the favourite for the TAB Rewards Handicap (1400m).
Punters got their result when he beat Beauty’s Beast ($8.50) by a short neck and were probably unaware of the efforts Clipperton made.
“I was confident he was always going to win but I was ready for anything,” Clipperton said.
“I pulled my whip through from my right hand and my left knee turned out.
“He wasn’t going left.
“I kept hold of his head as long as possible.
“I had a lot to think about out there.”
Peter Moody’s stable representative Clare Cunningham said the trainer had instigated a gear change, taking his blinkers off and putting a nose roll on.
“I think being able to see the other horse near him may have taught him it’s OK to be in front,” she said.
“With the blinkers, if he’s out there on his own he stops.
“This should give him some confidence.”