30 May 2018

Burridge keeps fingers crossed for Nimitz

Barrier rogue Nimitz was a good boy at his last start when he won from start to finish but trainer Steven Burridge is still holding back his “certificate of clearance” of good conduct.

A regular visitor at starting gates “remedial classes” due to his history of barrier antics, the Ready’s Image four-year-old has started to turn the corner with plenty of practice. There was no better reward for the patience shown by all concerned when Nimitz caused no mayhem at the start of a Class 4 Premier race over 1400m on May 11 – followed by a win (his second after his debut win last September) as the cherry on the cake.

Ability-wise, Burridge is hopeful Nimitz can measure up against the bunch he is pitted against in Friday’s $80,000 Class 3 race over 1400m, but he won’t worry about that until the starter releases the 11-horse field.

“He was much better at his last start, but I would rather wait on raceday (to see how he behaves) before I can say he has changed his barrier manners completely,” said the Australian handler.

“He may just go off again. But the horse has pulled up well since his last run and hopefully he can measure up.

“He is up in class because his ratings have gone up (a hike of five points up to 66). That’s the way it goes, he’s got to go through his grades.”

An imposing debut winner in Open Maiden company in a 1200m race on September 1, Nimitz showed his darker side at his next start one month later when he played up at the barriers on October 1.

Reschooling was immediately advised by the Stewards, but old habits die hard. It was back to the drawing board after he was a late scratching on October 22 for the same offence.

More re-education jumpouts were in order, but that cantankerous side reared its ugly side again on March 4, with the yellow flag waved again.

Nimitz was coaxed through three more barrier practices. He left his rider Simon Kok Wei Hoong behind once, but overall, he was starting to toe the line.

It showed at his last run when he went straight onto the chewy from dispatch, grabbing the lead rather easily, even if he was inclined to pull midrace. The MM & Premier Racing Stable-owned galloper looked on the cusp of being swamped when favourite Eastiger and Wecando loomed on his outside, but he kept finding to score by a head.

Burridge would have obviously preferred not to change a winning combination but Craig Grylls begins a two-day suspension this week. It’s fellow New Zealander Alysha Collett, who rode her first Kranji winner, Eye Guy for Michael Clements, last Saturday, who received the call-up for the job.

“The only reason Craig is not riding him is because he is suspended. I’ve got Alysha Collett to ride him instead,” said Burridge.

“The horse is in good form. It’s another 1400m race but with time I can push him up to the mile later.”

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