When Oxford Poet’s troublesome hooves have stunted his career, he has relied on heart to show his class.
Now the two are working in tandem as the horse aims for another stakes victory in Saturday’s Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.
Navicular disease has restricted the six-year-old gelding to 26 starts for five wins and 15 placings.
“He’s game and he just tries really hard,” trainer Kim Waugh said.
“He’s been a good horse to me.
“Even with all his little problems he always has a go.”
Oxford Poet’s fighting spirit was on show again last start when he finished third over 1000m at Warwick Farm on January 7 carrying 61kg.
He was beaten by Group One winner Dal Cielo and Hurrara who had the benefit of apprentice jockey Blaike McDougall’s 2kg claim.
“The two horses that beat him – the winner he had to give seven kilos and the second horse he had to give nine kilos to,” Waugh said.
He drops to 55kg in the Carrington with a six kilogram weight advantage over $3.60 favourite Ecuador.
“He’ll love that,” Waugh said.
While he often leads his races, Waugh is happy to hand up the front-running role if another runner sets a breakneck pace.
Seven-year-old stablemate Shiraz will be having his fourth start for Waugh as she tests whether the Group Three-winning sprinter can be effective over further as an older horse.
“He’s been showing me signs he’s been wanting 1400 metres these couple of runs,” Waugh said.
“I’m pleased that the owners have agreed to try him over that distance and hopefully that pays off.”
Unfavourable draws have also hurt Shiraz during his preparation and he will again have to overcome the widest barrier on Saturday.
Oxford Poet is on the second line of betting at $4 while Shiraz is a $9 chance.
The Peter Robl-trained Ninth Legion and Gold Symphony, trained by Peter and Paul Snowden, are equal third pick at $5.
Gold Symphony’s stablemate Princefamous is a $7 hope while Wouldnt It Be Nice is the outsider of the field at $15.