Johannesburg five-year-old Madibagold may not be a genuine Group horse, but their trainer David Payne still believes stakes success is within their reach at Rosehill this weekend.
Runner-up to Little Surfer Girl in the Listed Civic Stakes (1400m) last start on July 2, this Saturday Madibagold is back at Rosehill lining up in their fourth black-type on the trot in the $100,000 Listed Myer Winter Stakes (1500m).
“I probably had him a little underdone for that run (the Civic Stakes) and it has really helped him,” Payne said.
“I only gave him the one trial before that run and he just needed the run, and it showed.”
Drawn in barrier seven of 12, Madibagold is on the 53kg minimum and will again be ridden by Christian Reith who was aboard for their Civic Stakes second.
Reith was admittedly impressed with Madibagold’s effort in the Civic Stakes and is happy to maintain his association with the horse in the Winter Stakes.
“He ran well the other day,” Reith, 32, said.
“He’s on the limit (53kg) again on Saturday.
“He can beat them.”
It has been a preparation of mixed form for Madibagold, who until their last-start placing had failed to finish in the top three in their eight runs since last December.
The horse’s most impressive performance was at the Gold Coast in January, Madibagold beaten less than a length when fourth to Bold Glance in the $400,000 Magic Millions Cup (1400m).
Randwick-based Payne has had Madibagold set for the Winter Stakes for a number of months and is confident the gelding will hit peak form at the right time.
“He is a good, consistent horse and rarely runs a bad race, but he is not a carnival horse,” Payne said.
Earlier this year Madibagold lined up in the Listed Rowley Mile (1600m) at Hawkesbury, but after blundering the start in the April feature they could only manage to finish a disappointing eighth behind Keepin’ The Dream.
Next start Payne travelled to Scone with the middle-distance racehorse, but it was another unsuccessful result with Madibagold beating home just one other runner in the Listed Scone Cup (1600m) on May 13 before being turned out for a 50 day spell.
“We gave him a break and brought him back for winter when the tracks are a bit softer,” Payne explained.
“He is one of those horses you like to have.
“He might not win a lot but he is always picking up a cheque.”
To date Madibagold has started 33 times for just five wins and seven minor placings, but has earned $240,450 in prize money earning back their original purchase price of $240k.
A win on Saturday will hand Payne, who moved to Australia from South Africa nine years ago, his 31st winner for the season.
“When I got here (Australia) it was just a case of taking what we could get,” Payne said.
“It’s a bit different now.
“We are established and can put our horses where they are best suited.
“It is important to get it right, and that’s how Madibagold is racing now.”
Winter Stakes betting is lead by $3.40 favourite Scarf from the stables of Peter Snowden and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Tatt’s Mile runner-up Devils Arcade, while Madibagold is rated a $9 chance in the markets for Saturday’s feature Rosehill race.