Arch Fire’s chances of victory in the main hurdle race at the Warrnambool three-day carnival could depend on his mental state.
The Robert Smerdon-trained nine-year-old can be his own worst enemy when it comes to his jumping prowess.
Arch Fire is the $3.70 second favourite in Wednesday’s Galleywood Hurdle for which the Darren Weir-trained Renew is the $3 favourite.
Arch Fire was given a shot at steeplechasing, but after two runs over the bigger fences was switched back to hurdling.
“He mixes his jumping over hurdles and if he meets them right he’s fine, but sometimes he can make a mess of them,” Smerdon said.
“He didn’t seem to have enough respect for them and sometimes those horses if you put a more formidable obstacle in front of them they’ve got to jump it.
“It worked for him in schools (trials) but come raceday he didn’t appreciate it so we’ve brought him back to the hurdles.”
After winning last year’s Australian Hurdle at Sandown, Arch Fire was sent steeplechasing and competed in five schools before making his debut over the bigger jumps.
He finished third to Sea King at Warrnambool on July 10 before losing his rider at Bendigo two weeks later.
After switching back to hurdles, Arch Fire finished seventh in the Grand National Hurdle at Sandown before a spell.
After two flat runs and a hurdle school at Cranbourne, Arch Fire scored at Pakenham on April 23 with Smerdon expecting improvement from the run.
“He won well at Pakenham but it’s a different race the Galleywood,” Smerdon said.
“He loves the wet and doesn’t look too badly treated under the set weights and penalties.
“But it’s up to him how he treats his jumps.”