Veteran trainer Cliff Goss has once again proved he’s still got it.
The remarkable 91-year-old sent out impressive winner Casino Princess (NZ) (Casino Prince) at Matamata on Sunday.
The lightly-tried four-year-old came with a perfectly-timed run under two-kilo claimer Tayla Mitchell to land the PGG Wrightson (1200m), going on to score by just over a length.
Casino Princess has now won three of her four starts, but had been off the track for exactly 12 months, with her previous victory coming at the corresponding meeting last year.
The mare ventured to the races without a trial and the $2.10 favourite duly put her best foot forward.
While Goss takes everything in his stride, even he admitted the day hadn’t exactly been plain sailing, with the recovery of a truck and trailer from a crash on Saturday causing traffic chaos on State Highway 29 in the lower Kaimai range on Sunday morning.
“We were two and a half hours on the float and it was stop-start for so long,” the Tauranga horseman said. “We didn’t have a lot of time when we got to the races but she got the job done.
“It was pretty pleasing as she had been off the track for a long time. She had ulcers in her stomach and nearly died. It took me six months to get her right.”
Goss is now likely to look for a similar grade of race for the daughter of Casino Prince, whom he races with long-time friend Darryl Heaphy.
The duo, who have raced horses together for 37 years, purchased Casino Princess for $5,000 as a yearling off gavelhouse.com, with Goss drawn to the balanced pedigree.
“She was by Casino Prince, who was by Flying Spur and I thought there would be plenty of speed there. But then I looked further at the pedigree and she stems from the family of Melbourne Cup winner Empire Rose,” Goss said.
“I thought this horse would be a good miler and I still think that now.
“I’ll probably look for another (Rating) 74 before we look at a black-type race. There is the Tauranga Classic (Listed, 1400m) but it is weight-for-age, so that is probably doubtful.
“She likes heavy ground and a mile will be her thing.”
Goss said he had no issues entering Sunday’s race off such a lengthy layoff without a trial, a skill which traces to his time training in Macau, where horses had to win if an owner was told they were a winning prospect.
“She got over ulcers about four months ago but I just waited until I had her thoroughly fit,” he said.
The well-travelled horseman is also happy to use apprentice jockeys and he praised the ride of Tayla Mitchell.
“I have always liked using apprentices. You can talk to them and they will listen and follow instructions. Tayla is a very good young rider,” Goss said.
There is still plenty in the pipeline for the inspirational conditioner, who credits the horses with keeping him fit and well.
With a smart two-year-old filly by Ocean Park and a yearling by Proisir, there is plenty of motivation to leap out of bed in the mornings.
“I’ve only got two in work, but I really like the Ocean Park two-year-old,” Goss said.
“She goes really well but she’s 16.1 and she’s not going to be a two-year-old. I will trial her and put her out and bring her back as a three-year-old. She shows a lot of promise.
“I think if I sat down in an armchair all day, every day, I wouldn’t be here. Horses keep you fit. There are a lot of good people in racing too. “I’m looking forward to living a bit longer.” – NZ Racing News