Trainer Les Ross knew when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em, and when to walk away.
Ross swore he’d never return to racing after being suspended for bicarbonate use.
But he was softened up over some Kenny Rogers karaoke and lured back to the track.
Four months into his comeback, Ross – whose favourite karaoke song is ‘The Gambler’ – finds himself responsible for some 20 horses, 12 of whom are in work.
And while enjoying his recent wins, Ross has been around long enough to know his lucky streak won’t last.
“It’s nice to go ‘bang’ with winners left, right, and centre – I just hope it continues,” he said.
“But unfortunately I’ve been here long enough to know it doesn’t last forever.”
Ross will start Cuddlesome in a 1200 metre Listed race at Eagle Farm on Saturday, capping a dream return.
He trained a team of around 60 horses in Brisbane several years ago but walked away from the sport when he was suspended.
He found himself driving an old truck, carting horses and singing karaoke at his local pub on weekends.
“The bloke who owns the pub breeds a lot of horses … and kept asking me to train her (Cuddlesome) and I said, ‘no, no’.
“One day he got me at a weak moment and I decided to go back.”
Ross has trained Cuddlesome for seven of her nine starts since she was bought at the Magic Millions in 2008.
“The first start I gave her she ran third at 300-1,” Ross told AAP.
“Then we put her down in a $28,000 fillies and mares maiden, and I thought it might be a bit hard for her.
“She was the $3 favourite and won, and she’s never looked back.”
Cuddlesome won four in a row during the spring.
At her latest start she finished third at Eagle Farm after Ross made a last-minute decision to run her.
“A few people were disappointed with her but I certainly wasn’t,” he said.
Ross says the step up to 1200m on Saturday will be more to her liking, even though she is tackling stakes level for the first time.
“She’s very versatile. She’s one for 1200 to 1400 metres and I think she’ll get (up to) a mile later on,” he said.
This weekend Cuddlesome will be reunited with jockey Brad Stewart, who has ridden her to three of her four wins.
“It’s nice to get Brad back on her… she seems to perform a lot better with him on board,” Ross said.