IN Racing
Price ready for Wingatui battle
He may be a rising seven-year-old struggling with arthritis in a knee but Silent Battler is still only growing up, according to Southland trainer Sophie Price.
NZ Racing Desk | April 28, 2023
Photo: Race Images

He may be a rising seven-year-old struggling with arthritis in a knee but Silent Battler is still only growing up, according to Southland trainer Sophie Price.

Price will saddle Silent Battler in Sunday's Green Island Grizzlies 1200 at Wingatui as the Battle Paint gelding begins a new campaign that his Winton conditioner has little idea as to where it might lead.

"We've had a few issues with his knees. He's got a bit of arthritis in one of them so that's why I've been biding my time with him, waiting for tracks that suit him," Price said.

"It all depends on how his knee holds up now. If he comes through this race well, then we'll look for the next one but at this stage I haven't even got anything pencilled in for the next one because I just want to make sure I can keep him right.

"He’s had X-rays and just in his off-side knee he's got a bit of corrugation but it's not affecting the joint. It's just when he's on the hard tracks, he feels it but when you get a bit of give in the track, he's a different horse."

Silent Battler has won five of his 21 starts, though none since the 2021 Winton Cup (1400m), though he twice finished third in open company before an unplaced run in last year's Gr.3 Winter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton.

"He's just like a big baby. He still hasn't even grown up yet," Price said.

"He still just floats around and if there's nothing going forward, he'll just stick with the ones going at that speed. He definitely doesn't over-exert himself."

Part of biding her time with Silent Battler meant Price was able to utilise the swimming pool at Wyndham harness racing trainer Craig Ferguson's stables, allowing her to build his fitness without putting undue pressure on his knees.

"The tracks were just too firm to work him but that's really helped him," Price said. 

Price had entered Silent Battler for a 1400m Open Handicap at Wingatui that was deleted through lack of entries so opted for the Rating 75 sprint in which Timaru apprentice Yogesh Atchamah will help his cause by claiming a 4kg allowance down to 58kg.

"The 1200m might be a bit short but he's got to start somewhere. I did have Terry Moseley booked to ride but when he got 62 kilos I thought I'd use a claimer," Price said.

"He's not the hardest horse to ride and Yogesh is up-and-coming and he'll listen to what we want."

Silent Battler has won twice first-up in the past and Price was optimistic he could go a bold race resuming on Sunday.

"He's been working really well. He's forward enough. He galloped with Fiery Red yesterday and went to the line really nicely," Price said on Friday.

"He wouldn't have blown out a candle after galloping 700m so he's definitely fit. I'm happy with where he's at. 

"We're just hoping that track doesn't get too sticky now. He doesn't like it puggy but then he doesn't like it too heavy. Somewhere in between would be nice. As long as he's doing everything right and hitting the line ok, then I'll be happy."

Price will also produce Fiery Red in the Property Brokers Dunedin 1600, the Iffraaj mare having won two of her past four starts.

"She's carrying more weight this week but I don't think the mile will worry her," Price said.

"She's got a decent draw so she should get a run and she's won with 60 and 59 kilos before so she is tough. She's working really well too but she just didn't fire at Riverton last time."