ONE impressive trial could potentially reshape the path forward for Gayna Williams' veteran star Healing Hands.
The two-time Country Championships finalist charged down Kody Nestor's Cardiff comfortably in a 900 metre trial at Wellington last Wednesday and the win has thrust Healing Hands into The Kosciuszko discussions.
While it's always a danger to read too much into trial results, there was certainly an element of style in the way that Healing Hands easily caught up to Cardiff down the home stretch to win by a length, with Marina Morel in the saddle.
Cardiff is currently rated a $16 chance to win The Kosciuzsko, with six slots in the $1.3 million event still up for grabs.
Such a performance had Williams questioning what direction to take Healing Hands' preparation in.
"Over the past couple of seasons I've had a couple of people question me about it and the answer was always 'No, no, no'. I've always thought he's been more of a Country Championships horse - which he has been," she said.
"But with the way he's come into this prep, seeing how well he pulled up and him looking bigger and stronger, I'd have to say if anyone wanted to pick him up that the answer would be 'Yes'.
"He's a big, gangly type and he did not show much at all in the early stages and some niggling issues have held him back but fortunately being the owners has enabled us to take our time with the horse," Williams explained.
Owned by Frank and Gayna Williams, their daughter Lauren and her husband Matthew Cook, Healing Hands has only started 11 times for five wins and three placings with the majority of the starts being in top class country company.
I'd have to say if anyone wanted to pick him up that the answer would be 'Yes'.Gayna Williams
Producing a big finish, Healing Hands ridden by champion jockey Greg Ryan, won the 2020 CDRA Country Championship Qualifier at Mudgee and again powered home when third in the 2021 Qualifier and subsequently made the final again.
Healing Hands was a fast finishing sixth in the 2020 final at Royal Randwick and in this year's final came home in eighth.
Given the short distance of the trial Williams impressed by how quickly Healing Hands worked into his run.
"The trial was only over 900m and he's given us indications in the past that he's better as a seven furlong, or 1,400 metre, horse. Being freshen I didn't think he'd do what he did," Williams said.
"We changed a few things with him and hopefully it will work. It was my fault last prep. I probably had him a bit too dour in his work, but those things I've changed seem to be working at this stage.
"We did have the Panorama, over 1,300m, in mind for him but this will change his work pattern now. I'll have to give him some longer work so he can go over the 1,300m first up, which is what we don't really want."
Healing Hands is currently rated a $41 chance to win The Kosciuszko.
More than half of the 14 places in the Kosciuszko field at Royal Randwick have been chosen by the winning raffle ticket holders.
Confirmed runners to date are this year's Country Championships winner Art Cadeau ($7), Handle The Truth ($7), Victorem ($7), Edit ($10), Ice In Vancouver ($21), Island Bay Boy ($21), Plonka ($26) and Ahead Of His Time ($34).
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