Horse no one wanted proves doubters wrong

Canberra trainer Keith Dryden can readily recall the circumstances how he became leasee owner of Daryl, which chases its fifth win in seven starts at Albury on Monday.

Breeder Danny McMillan of Jacob Park Thoroughbreds sent the then two-year-old by Delzao out of the Jeune mare Bold Mover to Dryden and asked if he could sell the juvenile.

''Keith generally keeps only fillies he breeds and said he'd appreciate it if I could sell Daryl [named by one of Dryden's stablehands],'' McMillan said.

''I had a team of young blokes all around 20 to 30 looking for a horse.

''I rang them and said I had a horse they could lease with an option to buy and come down to the stable and have a look at him. I told Keith what was happening.

''Three times they made an appointment and they never turned up.


''In the end I was that embarrassed I decided to lease Daryl myself, trying to do the right thing by Keith.''

Dryden's decision has proven fateful, Daryl winning four times and collecting two seconds from seven starts to earn $32,250.

''The decision has been all right for me. While it [prizemoney] all goes back into my stable, it's helped keep us afloat,'' Dryden said.

Daryl showed ability right from day one and Dryden believes there is still plenty of upside to the four-year-old gelding.

This campaign Daryl scored over 1200 metres at Cowra on July 23 then finished runner-up to Guy Walter's talented Jacquinot Bay over 1400m at Goulburn on August 7, before winning over 1300m at the same track on August 20.

His previous spell - 196 days - came after a mishap nearly ended his promising career.

''He kicked out with both legs and got straddled in the tie-up stalls at Canberra. It took four blokes to lift him off,'' Dryden recalled.

''He hurt his legs and was sore for over a month. That's why I gave him a long spell to recuperate.''

Daryl has become not only one of Dryden's favourites, but won over Dryden's staff.

''He's a lovely horse with a tremendous temperament,'' he said.

''Everyone wants to ride him. He's very relaxed.''

Daryl's ability to relax, particularly in his races, suggests to Dryden the gelding will cope with his first try over 1600m today in the Carlton Draught benchmark 70 handicap.

''I'm a bit concerned there isn't much pace tomorrow and we'll probably ride him a bit handier than usual,'' Dryden said.