WAGGA trainer Brad Witt is not ready to bid farewell to stable favourite Gunner just yet.
The 11-year-old veteran campaigner has been well-beaten in his two runs this preparation but Witt is confident Gunner can run an improved race in Thursday’s $25,000 Ted Ryder Cup (1600m).
“He was ridden upside down last start,” Witt said of his sixth placing at Albury.
“The run was better than it looks on paper.
“The jockeys keep wanting to lead on him but every time he leads he falls in a hole.
“He looks a million dollars, he feels a million dollars. It will be good to see the old boy get back to his best.”
Gunner will enter Murrumbidgee Turf Club’s summer feature three years older than any other horse in the field.
Gunner is no stranger to the Ted Ryder Cup, having run in the race for the first time back in 2009 when eighth behind Irish Key.
He returned for his second attempt at the race last year and was a close second behind Art Thou Ready.
Witt hopes it can be third time lucky for he and Gunner.
“He’s back on track now,” he said.
“He had a fair while out with a few problems.
“After those first two runs back, he’s starting to come right on.
“He’s up to his pet distance now, he should be right to go.”
Gunner has won nine races since joining Witt’s stable, and seven since he took over the ownership of the son of Commands.
He has finished well down the track at his four runs since last year’s Ted Ryder Cup and at age 11, retirement is only a natural thought at this stage of his career.
Witt has no immediate plans to retire Gunner but concedes that another sub-par performance may mean the end is nigh.
“He’s had a few little niggling problems but he’s getting to that age now where he probably doesn’t have too many starts left in him,” he said.
“I’ll see how he goes. If he looks like he’s had enough after (Thursday) then that might be it.
“As soon as he tells me he’s had enough then I’ll pull him up because he’s been a lovely pony.”
Witt has a lot of time for the gelding.
“He’s a ripper of a horse,” he said.
“He’s just a gentleman.”
In-form Wagga apprentice Nick Heywood takes the ride on Gunner, in the race named the Chris Heywood Racing Ted Ryder Cup.
Witt hopes Heywood can have Gunner camped just off the speed.
“I want him to come from behind,” he said.
“There wasn’t much speed on the other day but there should be enough (on Thursday).”
Gunner is drawn in gate eight and is Witt’s only representative on Ted Ryder Cup day.
He will then look to Corowa on Monday where last-start Albury winner Flaming Aces will go around in the Benchmark 60 Handicap (1000m).
Witt has just five horses in work at the moment.
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