By David Nagel
Home renovations might be on the cards for Pakenham trainer Dean Grass and his wife Phoebe after their stable favourite High Torque made it back-to-back victories at Geelong on Friday.
The five-year-old Toronado/Moussaieff gelding won consecutive races for the first time in his 21-start career by taking out the $25,000 BenchMark-58 Handicap (1765m) in impressive fashion.
Jockey Michael Poy, who also guided High Torque to victory at Terang on January 2, gave the gelding a perfect ride throughout, riding patiently off a hot speed before taking command of the race over the concluding 100 metres.
High Torque tread an inside path over the dying stages of the race to hold off the fast-finishing Uniquely by a half-length, with race-favourite Port Royal a length further back in third.
Poy thinks the in-form conveyance will now relish a step up in journey, while also indicating that the Grass family home might be ready for an upgrade in the coming weeks.
“It was a strong run race and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get to 2000 now and be pretty hard to beat,” Poy said.
“He just didn’t travel on that tempo, they rolled along pretty quick, it was a strong run race.
“But credit to Dean and Phoebe, she keeps telling me she’s going to upgrade her kitchen every time this horse wins…so over the last fortnight she’s going to have a pretty nice kitchen I think.”
Grass said its exciting to have High Torque back to somewhere near his best, which included a three-year-old victory over eventual Victoria Derby winner Warning, at Sale, back in 2019.
“It’s exciting to see him come back to his three-year-old year, where he showed a lot, he tapered off a bit, but we just gave him some time in the paddock to mature and now he’s kicked on again,” he said.
Dean and Phoebe purchased the horse for just $20,000 at the Ready 2 Race Sales in 2019.
This has been his best preparation for the Grass team, running fourth, fourth, second, second, first and first at his six runs this time in.
“That was really exciting, he ran a great race the other week at Terang with Michael (Poy) on him and we were pretty confident today that he could back it up,” Grass said post-race.
“He’s carried a bit of weight but Michael was confident he’d be able to carry that weight well and he’s done the job.”
Grass praised his small but talented team for all playing a role in the stable’s recent run of success.
“We break in and pre-train a lot of horses, I’ve got about five or six racing at the moment, but it’s not all about me,” Grass said.
“I’ve got a great team at home…Chloe, Donna, Mikayla and Billy…they all work as part of the team, I’m lucky to be the face of it here, but the whole team puts in.
“My wife (Phoebe), she selected the horse, bought him at the sales, she also picks the races, so we all do our bit and it’s paid off…our little team is flying.”
Grass said the son of Toronado was small in stature…but oozed class!
“This horse, when my wife bought him, he was a little horse, but my wife said she bought him because he walks around like a big horse,” he said.
“He’s got a presence about him and if looks could win races this horse would be winning all the time – he’s a magnificent type of animal.”
Pakenham trainers had a big three days last week, with six winners across four tracks on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Peter Moody scored a winning double on his home track on Thursday night with Tricology and Pounding both saluting, while Phillip Stokes followed Grass’s winning lead on Friday by training Inordinate to victory at Cranbourne on Friday night.
And local trainers also showed their class at the picnics at Woolamai on Saturday, with Adele Garraway (Designer Portrait) and Frankie Stockdale (Unique Bambino) scoring a running double in races three and four.
The Pakenham Racing Club will host night meetings every Thursday night from now through to the end of April.