Beck not concerned about wide draw for Firoden

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Southland trainer Leda Beck has opted to look on the bright side when it comes to Firoden’s wide barrier draw for Saturday’s Group 3 Winning Edge Presentations 125th Winter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton.

The Denman seven-year-old gelding goes into the Winter Cup as a form runner, with wins at two of his last three starts, most recently winning last month’s Winter Cup Trial (1400m) at Ashburton after a break of two and a half months.

Beck is pleased with Firoden’s condition going into the feature but admits she was initially shocked when she saw his barrier draw of 17.

“I was horrified when I first saw it but I’ve had a think about it and if he does go back it’s not going to be a worry,” Beck said.

“If he’s back and out of trouble and as long as there’s a bit of speed on, it shouldn’t be too bad. If he’s up handy he goes too hard.

“He’s put in some big efforts when he’s led up but for a race like this, if he can chill out in behind them and run home strongly, I’d be pleased. If he’s back doing his own thing, he’s happy. He doesn’t like to be overcrowded.”

Online bookmakers opened Firoden at +1500 in its final field market on Wednesday afternoon, with the Kevin Myers-trained pair of Verry Flash and Kick On at the head of betting at +350 and +380 respectively.

Beck will try to maintain an enviable strike rate for Southland horses in recent years after the success of Timy Tyler in 2015, Miss Three Stars in 2016 and Ritani last year.

“Southland horses have always been quite competitive in this race. But with those ones coming down from the North Island, especially Dummy’s (Myers’) horses, it’s always going to make the field stronger.”

Firoden has won five of his 42 starts and four of the 16 starts since he transferred from South Auckland trainer Steven Reid, who remains in the ownership, to Beck in February last year.

“The owners sent Sham On Toast down to us for a start and he seemed to turn a wee corner and he went a few nice races for us,” she said. “So they said ‘do you want to have a go with this one as well?’ He’s won four races for us so he’s done a good job.”

Beck said Firoden’s Winter Cup Trial win trumped his previous-best wins and had him on target for his main winter assignment.

“It was a pretty good win at Ashburton. He was fresh-up and he seems to go good races fresh,” she said.

“It was shorter than he prefers but the track was wet and Rohan (Mudhoo) rode him really well. He kept at him and he finished it off strongly.

“I’m not worried about the mile because in reality it’s going to play longer anyway by the sound of how wet it is there. I wanted to keep him fresh for this and he’s thriving. If anything he’s done too well.”

Firoden does all his training at the Winton racecourse and while Beck said she has had to deal with atrocious weather, he had prepared well for the Winter Cup.

“We still have the services of the course proper. He always works by himself because he goes too hard in company but he’s been working well,” Beck said.

“He always tries, no matter what you ask him,” said Beck, whose husband is well-known harness trainer Allan Beck.

“Our daughter Sarah rides work for us as well, so it’s a bit of a family affair.”

Beck is refusing to get over-confident despite having such great faith in her charge.

“He always puts in, so I’ll be happy whatever he does,” she said.

“After this I’ll just keep him fresh and aim for the Cup meeting later on. He raced in the Wellington Cup over 3200m last year and it was just a little bit far. He’s got a good turn of foot over 2000m so that will probably be more of our target.”

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