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After being banned from racing after repeated incidents in the barriers, Roche has spent a considerable amount of time trying to cure Here De Angles of his aversion to the barrier stalls.
Roche described the barrier as ‘heaven sent’ as she believes it will help her horse settle in the moments before the race.
“If I had to draw a barrier I would have picked 13. I couldn’t be happier,” Roche said.
“That means he gets to go in last. For the horse, that is perfect.”
Neither Lee Freedman or Mark Kavanagh had the patience to continue dealing with the barrier rogue, however Roche has him in a position to start in a race for the first time since September last year.
“It’s been eight months of hard work, some would say hell to get him here. I’ve risked my life with him,” she said.
Roche also said that Here De Angels has ‘thrived’ since arriving in Grafton last week.
“He galloped on the B grass Tuesday, had a workout on the course proper Friday and did some pace work on Monday morning. Other than that he has been led off a pony around the streets of Grafton,” Roche said.
“He’s a horse that is addicted to food. He’s put on some condition since he has been in Grafton.”
To ensure that he is over whatever was spooking him in the barrier stalls, Here De Angels has been given four barrier trials ahead of tomorrow’s event.
Here De Angels, who has won 11 of his 31 starts, burst onto the racing scene in 2006, winning his first five starts.
He then went through a barren spell, but towards the end of his last campaign he was showing the form that saw him earmarked for bigger and better things when he was a three year old.
Towards the end of 2009, Here De Angels won the Listed Mittys Cup and Christmas Stakes at Caulfield before taking out the Group Three Rokk Ebony Rubiton Stakes in February last year.
He followed up that effort with a second in the Group One Oakleigh Plate behind Starspangledbanner. He was then spelled for six months and came back for two runs in the spring last year, where his bad manners at the barriers again affected his performance.
Tomorrow marks the first time that the horse will race for young trainer Wendy Roche.
Here De Angels will be ridden by Jeff Penza and will need to lug 60.5kg if he is to come back to racing a winner.
Here De Angels has been declared a $4.20 second favourite, behind the well supported Black Piranha ($3.60), who fared perfectly at the barrier draw, drawing gate seven.
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