RUNNING second after a spell of 364 days against a quality field in a Highway Handicap at Rosehill Gardens – it was little wonder Bathurst trainer Dean Mirfin was impressed with I Am Capitan.
His six-year-old gelding made a stunning return from injury on Saturday as he finished an 0.8 lengths runner-up in the 1,200 metres, $75,000 race.
Only Handle The Truth ($3), who has now won three of his last four starts for Keith Dryden and Scott Collings, managed to better Mirfin’s chance.
The result also justified Mirfin’s opinion of the I Am Invincible x Perpugilliam gelding of having enough quality to be competitive at this level first up.
“He had a bit of a strain on a tendon, so we had to give him a long time off and look after his leg and get him back to racing, so it was good that he could go and do that first up,” Mirfin said.
“He is up to that quality, he has gone down there and done that before, so we had expectations he’d run well. He probably exceeded our expectations by running second, but we knew he would acquit himself well.
“A lot of work that goes into that, to have a horse turn up to race after a year away. He’s been in and out of the stable a couple of times, so it’s rewarding, very rewarding.”
As Mirfin indicated, I Am Capitan has previously contested Highway Handicap races. In October last year at Randwick he ran a solid second, while his last start before spelling came in another Highway Handicap at Rosehill.
It saw him start as a $12 chance on Saturday and with apprentice Sam Weatherley in the saddle, I Am Capitan impressed.
Mirfin said that I Am Capitan pulled up well, so the Bathurst trainer plans to take him to another Highway Handicap in a fortnight and “hopefully see him go one better.”
“He’s quite a high benchmark horse, so it is hard to race him in the country, so that is his goal, to go down there and try to win one,” he said.
“You are chasing big money and they come from all over the state to try and get it, so it’s hard to get. It’s nice to have a horse that’s up to that grade and have a crack at it.”
It was Mirfin’s second good result of the week with a runner he had spent plenty of time working back to fitness.
On Wednesday at Kensington, Mirfin’s six-year-old gelding I Am Magnificent ($16) ran a solid 1.3 lengths fifth behind Navy ($5.50) in the ANZ Bloodstock News Handicap (1,100m). It was his first race since December 9, 2016.
“He was first up after a 100 and something weeks and he only just got beat … he ran magnificent,” Mirfin said.
“I am really proud of the pair of old blokes, they both had the same injury.”
The next assignment for Mirfin’s stable will be Friday’s meeting at Orange.
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