Manakau horse trainer Sylvia Kay could almost have a degree in equine psychology after trying to figure out the quirks of her latest stable star.
Dolcetto, a favoured runner in a major race at Trentham tomorrow, has a few odd traits that required Kay to think outside the square in keeping him happy and on task.
Any jockey that rides Dolcetto knows he has a strong aversion to the white Clerk of the Course horses that lead horses to the starting barriers and assist with all manner of pre-start duties.
It paid for Dolcetto to keep a distance from them, for fear of an altercation. And once it was time to line up he was often the last horse loaded into the barriers at start time.
"Otherwise he plays up. He just wants to get on with it," she said.
"He's good as long as you talk to him and go along with his unusual ways.
"He wants to get straight out on to the track too on race day - he hasn't got time to wait - and he's good going down as long as he's got a friend."
Kay said on the odd morning at the Levin training track he will perform and get wound up for no apparent reason, then drop his head and work away like a professional.
"He hasn't been spoilt. It's just how he is. It's just him. You just work around him," she said.
Another phobia was an aversion to some forms of veterinary treatment; "you can't get a needle into him", she said.
"And he doesn't like being brushed."
Dolcetto will line up in the Gr.3 Tui – Backing A Winner Since 1889 Anniversary Handicap (1200m) tomorrow and Kay was banking on a change of fortune.
The six-year-old was unlucky in the Captain Cook (Gr.1 1600m) at Trentham last year when nearly knocked off his feet, while he was caught wide at his last start in the Manawatu Challenge Stakes (Gr.2, 1400m) when finishing third.
Kay was using tomorrow's race as a lead-in to the main target, the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) on the same track the following week.
Meanwhile, stablemate Sylvester lines up in the Gr.3 Barneswood Farm Trentham Stakes (2100m) on Saturday and safely through the run will contest the Gr.3 NZ Campus Innovation & Sport Wellington Cup (3200m) at Trentham next week.
The stable won the 2011 Wellington Cup with Spiro.
Kay said Sylvester also needed a bit of luck after striking traffic problems in recent runs but said the horse would be better suited to the room Trentham track.
He had proven he could run the 3200m distance with a good effort in the New Zealand Cup in November last year.