Jumping just may have resurrected the career of talented stayer Gobstopper.
The full-brother to former Hong Kong Horse of the Year Werther has been out of form since winning the Gr.3 New Zealand Cup (3200m) back in 2017, but his runner-up performance in the Gr.3 Rotorua Cup (2200m) at Arawa Park showed he is back to his best.
Trainer Andrew Campbell admitted to being frustrated with the six-year-old son of Tavistock, but said recent schooling over fences has given the gelding a new lease on life.
“It’s been a long time coming. He hasn’t had a win since the New Zealand Cup, he’s been a bit frustrating,” Campbell said.
“I have got Emily Farr and Shaun Phelan riding for me and we decided to give him a few jumps.
“He had a jumping trial a week or so prior to the race at Rotorua. We schooled him up on the day and he loves it.
“It was Emily’s idea to pop him over a few jumps and it has certainly woken his ideas up, he wants to be a racehorse again.”
While Campbell isn’t a big fan of jumps racing he said Gobstopper is thriving with the new challenge and he could be set to head across the Tasman to tackle some hurdle assignments if he performs well over the fences in New Zealand.
“I’m not a jumps trainer and I don’t want to be,” Campbell said. “He’s my good old mate and he probably gave me the biggest thrill in racing that I have ever had when he won the New Zealand Cup.
“It was quite hard watching him go over the hurdles, my heart was in my mouth the whole time at the trials, but he seems to jump pretty well.
“He’s going to have a jumping trial next Tuesday and possibly go to the maiden hurdle at Ellerslie on Queen’s Birthday weekend.
“Depending how he goes we would possibly look at going to Australia. There are some nice races over there for him.”
An initial jumping career looks imminent for Gobstopper, but Campbell is also eyeing some feature flat races in the summer with his charge, particularly the A$300,000 Jericho Cup (4600m) at Warrnambool on December 1.
“He’ll possibly go over to Australia and have a hurdle race and then have a brief let up and then possibly head to the Jericho Cup.
“It’s interesting, because it’s for New Zealand and Australian-bred horses, so there will be no English imports competing in it.” – NZ Racing Desk