Former Tasmanian trainer Jason Clifford is looking for a perfect start to his relocation on the mainland with Forbidden Quest at Moonee Valley.
Clifford, 37, moved to Geelong earlier this month and Forbidden Quest will be his first runner in Saturday’s Schneider Electric Hcp (1523m).
Clifford said Victoria offered more opportunities for both him and his horses and he was looking to build on his past successes which include an upset win as a hobby trainer with Our Dashing Dane in the 2005 Hobart Cup.
“Racing in Tasmania isn’t going anywhere while Victoria is going ahead in leaps and bounds,” Clifford said.
“I have got five or six horses just about weighted out of Tasmanian racing and I didn’t want to lose them so I thought it was time to come across.”
A glazier by trade and a racehorse trainer for eight years, full-time the last four, Clifford has averaged more than 20 winners a year as a professional.
Excited about the future, Clifford is hoping to make an early impact in Victoria to attract new clients to his stable.
With 17 horses in work he is mindful that he has a solid but ageing team.
Seven-year-old Forbidden Quest is one of his oldest horses but also one of his best.
Three starts ago he won the weight-for-age Ingham Jockey Club Cup (2100m) beating this season’s Bendigo and Devonport Cup winner Dream Pedlar.
A natural on-pace horse, Forbidden Quest overraced when he led and was beaten four lengths into 10th place in this year’s Hobart Cup (2200m) and last start was second in the Listed George Adams Plate (1600m) at Launceston.
Darren Gauci has ridden the West Quest gelding at his last three runs and is on him again on Saturday.
Clifford previously trained his horses on Seven Mile Beach but said the benefits of moving to Geelong were already showing with Forbidden Quest who has thrived in his new surroundings and working on the synthetic track.
“He has really switched on since he has come here,” Clifford said.
“To be honest I don’t think he was rock-hard fit in Tasmania.
“He’d had enough of the beach which made it very hard to train him and get him really fit.”
Clifford has made the occasional raid to Melbourne and a year ago Forbidden Quest was an impressive winner at Sandown.
Another big run is expected at Moonee Valley on Saturday with Clifford tipping a top four finish for the gelding who is $12 in TAB Sportsbet’s market dominated by the John Sadler-trained Flat Chat ($2).
“I reckon he has switched right on and will probably lead the field,” Clifford said.
“If he handles Moonee Valley he could be hard to run down.
“He is very well and I really expect him to run in the first four, and if he can do that then we will put him up to 2000 metres at his next start.”