Napoleon has already won an important battle on foreign soil to simply still be in the running for the Stayers Cup.
The seven-year-old’s Randwick debut on Saturday looked unlikely when the German-bred gelding was diagnosed with a suspensory injury after racing at Kembla Grange in April, 2016.
It was a career-threatening setback and trainer Jarrod Austin feared for the veteran’s future before a rehabilitation plan enabled him to return to the track in February.
“We were pretty gentle on him. We took a long time bringing him back. Everything was done properly and the results are coming through now,” Austin said.
“He’s come back as good as ever. It’s probably the first preparation we’ve had with him that he hasn’t had a niggle.”
Austin acquired the stayer in mid-2013 when one of his owners brought him to Australia after five winless starts in Germany.
“He took a couple of preparations to settle into the Australian climate and get used to everything,” Austin said.
Napoleon was gelded after three barrier trials and responded with two wins in his first preparation over 1850 metres in Newcastle, although he was difficult to handle.
“He used to get a little bit fierce on us when he first came over. He was quite full of himself. He wanted to over-race and do heaps of things wrong. We had to teach him what it’s all about,” Austin said.
“He’s a content and happy horse now. He’s finally matured and I think he’ll relish the two miles (3200m). He’s made to get over this trip.”
Austin’s only query is the heavy track.
“He does get through a soft track and been been placed on a heavy but we’d prefer it didn’t get any worse,” he said.
Austin has booked apprentice Rachel King who guided Napoleon to a last start second place in a benchmark (2200m) at Warwick Farm on May 31.