HIS track riders said he was "too slow" and a "ding-a-ling" but Bathurst trainer Paul Theobald saw a spark in Tiger King, he persevered and on Saturday at Mudgee the gelding finally posted his first win.
In what was his 15th career start, the Andrew Banks ridden Tiger King ($5) battled Rebate ($8) all the way down the straight in the Gooree Park Thoroughbreds Colts and Geldings Maiden Plate (1100 metres) and got the best of a tight finish.
""When you're racing you've got to have luck in the mix, the trainer has got to have luck in the mix and the horse has got to have luck in the mix. If you look at all his starts, he's been unlucky, he's pulled outside starts in the carpark," Theobald said.
"But he had a good draw [at Mudgee] and he toughed it out. He was up frontrunning, he had horses on both sides of him.
"Him and the horse that run second were hard at it all the way down the straight, Tiger was eye-balling him. The other runners were still coming, but down the straight those front two pulled away a little bit, by a couple of lengths.
"Tiger got in front of him with probably about 20 or 30 metres to go and hung on."
Tiger King's early career form was inconsistent for Theobald, but the trainer worked out his had an issue with his hooves.
While others wrote the Shaft x Zartiki gelding off, his trainer stayed patient and now has finally been rewarded.
"It all came down to a hoof problem. I had to pick that up and it's taken me three shoeings to get him right," he said.
"It's taken him 15 starts, but now he's a race horse.
"My track riders said he was too slow and he was a ding-a-ling ... but as a trainer I've got to look at all aspects including his age. He's just turned four so now maturity comes into it. Before he was an adolescent, it was like he was saying 'I don't want to do this, I don't want to do this' and putting the anchors out.
"But I saw that little spark, that little bit of encouragement every now and then, and I thought that this horse has got it, I just had to unlock him."
The win at Mudgee's non-TAB meeting came after a handy fifth in a TAB maiden at Bathurst on October 15 and both those efforts have Theobald confident that Tiger King has more wins in him.
"He put in a good run at Bathurst on a heavy 10 from a wide gate and I thought 'gee that was a good run'," he said.
"The bookies knew, they saw something in him, he was $5 at Mudgee when he should've been 50.
"I think there's more wins in him, I think he might be able to score the odd win at a TAB meeting now."
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