Terry Wenn is approaching Jochen Rindt's Taumarunui Gold Cup title defence at Rotorua today with renewed confidence.
The Cambridge trainer admitted feeling rather despondent after the seven-year-old gelding produced a substandard run at Te Rapa earlier this month when finishing seventh of eight runners, beaten more than 13 lengths.
But after a few tweaks to routines at home, Jochen Rindt returned to Te Rapa two weeks later and was back in the winner's circle after a bold frontrunning win for rider Trudy Thornton.
"He seems very well in himself going into Saturday. I'm really happy with him," Wenn said.
"We had a few issues to resolve after that bad run. We were picking our bottom lips up off the ground, so it was a relief to see him bounce back last time.
"He'd just been sulking being left out in the paddock in the rain on some of those cold nights. We had him well rugged up but he went off his tucker. We started boxing him and he began eating again and you could just see his energy levels lift the week of his last win.
"The other problem was he never got to the front at Te Rapa when he went so badly and that might have been a factor, but he might not have had the energy to get there either.
"Anyway, he's firing on all fours now. Shaun Phelan popped him over nine fences the other day and he really ripped into his task so hopefully we're all go."
A winner of seven of his 33 starts, Jochen Rindt registered his biggest win in last year's Taumarunui Cup, beating Pump Up The Volume, a rival again today.
"He's pretty much the same as he was last year and he loves Rotorua," Wenn said. "The only time he's ever gone badly there was in a sprint and he's not a sprinter, but the young apprentice dropped his whip that day too which didn't help.
"He's got in at the right weight - only a kilo more than last year - and he's beaten all those horses before."
• Champion rider Chris Johnson will have to wait a bit longer to seal his national jockey's premiership title.
The country's thoroughbred racing season was set to end after today's meetings at Rotorua and Otaki (now to be run at Awapuni on Monday), until the South Canterbury Jockey club was forced to postpone its meeting scheduled for yesterday until tomorrow.
For the second time in less than a week South Island thoroughbreds will be huddled in their loose boxes rather than out on the track.
The cause of the two deferments is the same storm, rather than rain the Timaru track received in the last couple of days.
Similarly to when the Oamaru racecourse, which saw a meeting postponed and then eventually cancelled early this week, the deluge of rain that hit the South Island last weekend left parts of the Timaru track under water.
Chris Johnson has eight rides on the Timaru card that can help him extend his final tally of wins for the season.
He goes into today's Rotorua meeting, where Francis Drake in the Taumarunui Gold Cup is among Johnson's book of six rides, on 112 wins so far this term and with a 16 win lead over his nearest rival, Alysha Collett.
Like the Timaru and Oamaru tracks, Rotorua racecourse has seen its fair share of recent rain and is likely to be rated in a heavy11 condition today. That could prove a big challenge for the Graeme and Debbie Rogerson trained Francis Drake who has managed only third and fifth placings in two starts on the wettest of surfaces.
When fixed odds markets opened on Thursday Jochen Rindt was a $4.20 favourite ahead of $6 second favourite Katie McKeen and $6.80 third favourite Pump Up The Volume.
What is in Francis Drake's favour is his dropping from a mammoth 62.5kg weight when he ran fourth behind the favourite at Te Rapa in his last start to a comparatively luxurious 56kg.
Jochen Rindt carried 58.5kg in that win, meaning Francis Drake meets him 2.5kg better off today.
- NZ Racing Desk, ODT