Cambridge trainers Tim and Margaret Carter have been forced to lift their sights sooner than planned with Farm Boy after he exceeded expectations in his comeback at Tauranga on Saturday.
Farm Boy was retired after he finished unplaced in last year’s Gr.2 Easter Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie, but 19 months later he was back to the races in the open 1400m sprint last weekend and his connections weren’t expecting much from the El Hermano eight-year-old.
“It was a pretty good field and I thought if he beat one home I’d be happy,” Tim Carter said.
“He had had two trials and went all right and had been working well, but I thought he’d get run off his feet.”
Surprisingly to the Carters and owner-breeder Allan Hayward, Farm Boy came home solidly from the back of the six-horse field to finish third to Donna Anne Billy, beaten a length and a quarter.
“We were thrilled with the run. I couldn’t believe it,” Carter said. “He had been running along with Battle Time who couldn’t get near him, but to do it on raceday first-up was a surprise.
“He looks to have come through it well so we might have to go to the Eagle Technology Stakes (Gr.3, 1600m) at Ellerslie on December 1, then if he goes well in that we’d have to look at the Zabeel Classic (Gr.1, 2000m) at Christmas time.”
Farm Boy has shown a liking for Ellerslie with two of his five wins being on the course, including the 2015 Gr.2 Avondale Cup (2400m) along with his third in the same race the following year plus his third in the 2015 Gr.1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m).
A series of issues resulted in Farm Boy’s “temporary” retirement in April 2017 and during his absence from the racetrack he was tried as a clerk of the course mount by Terry Wenn after an initial spell on his owner’s farm.
“He ricked a muscle and Terry sent him back, but after a while he was tearing around the paddock so we got Ian MacKay, the vet, to look at him and he said it would be all right to have another go with him. We’ve had him in work for five or six months just taking him along quietly.”
Battle Time, Farm Boy’s younger half-brother also bred and raced by Hayward, has had a setback since resuming with a sixth at Ellerslie last month, but is on the mend.
“He ended up with bruised soles after that good first-up run,” Carter said.
“He’s coming right and he hasn’t missed much work, we just haven’t galloped him. We’re hoping to have him racing before Christmas.”
Like Farm Boy, Battle Time is a Group Two winner and multiple Group One placegetter.
The Carters’ team also includes several promising young horses including recent winners Show Down and Summer Wind.
“We threw a (New Zealand) Derby nomination in for Show Down, but he’s being chased by the (bloodstock) agents,” Carter said. “He’s a lovely horse and keeps improving.” - NZ Racing Desk