FOLLOWING his win on debut Joint Venture was never quite able to recapture that magic again for Bathurst trainer Mat Rue, finishing well off the pace in his next two starts.
The sometimes temperamental Grinfromeartoear gelding needed a change up to get him back on track and Rue found a solution - take away the hobbles.
Joint Venture will line up in this Wednesday night's Club Menangle Country Series Heat (1,730 metres) at Bathurst Paceway on the back of two placings, already looking like a new horse this preparation.
Taking away the hobbles can always be a tricky proposition for trainers, who can risk their horses breaking stride, but the change has not only improved Joint Venture racing but also his mannerisms.
Rue hopes that behaviour can continue into this Wednesday night's feature race.
"His last two runs have been good. After his first up win he was misbehaving in his races and just didn't seem to be really happy," he said.
"We gave him a break and we brought him back into work but he was doing the same thing, acting stroppy and angry all the time and kicking a bit in the sulky so that's why not long ago we decided to take the hobbles off him.
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"We tried it in work one day and he went really good so we took him into trials like that and off he went. Now and again he can get a little stroppy on you but he's definitely not as bad as what he was before.
"Those last two runs have been the best runs of his career so let's hope he can keep putting it together."
Rue has had previous experience working with horses racing without hobbles - a rare sight on the track.
"We did have one previously, Smiling Sam, who was the same. He seemed to enjoy it," Rue said.
"Funnily enough, that horse of Robbie Morris' [Im Bills Last] who won his race the other night also raced without hobbles, and he's only a two-year-old. You don't see that very often."
Rue's bid for victory has been elevated by the scratching of Wendy Turnbull's Young Cambo, who would have been chasing a third consecutive win if he lined up.
Joint Venture is drawn to be among the frontrunners from gate five but Rue's keeping a close eye on David Hewitt's Snuggles Banyula on the inside.
"It's definitely easier with Young Cambo out but the one to beat is Snuggles Banyula. It's first up from a spell but it's bringing some Menangle form into this race from last prep, and no other horse in this race would have competed at that level before," he said.
"My guy's had two pretty solid runs back from a spell. If he goes similar to what he did last week then he has to be some kind of chance. I just whether last week might have taken a little bit out of him.
"He'll head forward from the start I'd say because he likes to run his own show early. In an ideal world I'd like to find the front back I'm sure David is thinking the same thing."