Kav's undeniable Christmas wish
Trainer Mark Kavanagh. Photo: Paul Rovere
OUTSIDE of winning group races, the most pleasurable aspect of training racehorses is often resurrecting the career of a gifted one that has lost its way.
Mark Kavanagh is in such a position at Caulfield on Wednesday with his talented sprinter Undeniably, who is chasing his first victory in two years in the $125,000 Christmas Stakes.
Kavanagh admitted that it had been a long road back for Undeniably, who three years ago appeared set to be contesting feature sprint races after displaying extraordinary talent as a three-year-old. But a now infamous float trip from Kavanagh's Adelaide stables to his Melbourne base involving Undeniably and another promising horse, Shrapnel, was the start of a very forgettable episode.
''They contracted travel sickness and neither horse was ever the same again,'' Kavanagh said.
''We're hoping, however, in Undeniably's case, that all of the work in both states to get the horse somewhere near its best can pay off.
''We had to hit him with some very strong antibiotics at the time to curb the illness and he just didn't seem to respond. We gave him a few preparations but it was just a matter of trying to get him physically right and then we could start working on a racing career.''
Kavanagh realised that some of the intense work on Undeniably may be starting to pay dividends after a rejuvenated trial performance at Werribee five weeks ago.
Stable jockey Michael Rodd said he was ''overwhelmed'' by the trial but, more importantly, how he was showing signs of being the sprinter of the past.
Undeniably resumed at Caulfield earlier this month and, after dropping out to last in the early stages, Kavanagh thought it was back to square one with the sprinter.
But Undeniably found his rhythm on the turn and reeled off a sizzling final sectional to finish second to well-credentialled stablemate Catapulted.
''He was a pretty sick horse and it's taken a lot of work, and hopefully that placing will mean the start of things to come,'' Kavanagh said.
''He's not a horse you take lightly; he's a big animal and a very good horse when he's at his peak.
''I just hope that the Caulfield run is a true indication that the horse is on the road to better things.''
Leading apprentice Jake Noonan rode Undeniably last start and he retains the ride in the Christmas Stakes, with No. 1 stable rider Michael Rodd on holiday.
''Jake rode him at Caulfield and did absolutely nothing wrong on him, so why not put him back on and we can go one better,'' Kavanagh said.
The trainer looks set to play a significant role in major sprints during the Christmas/New Year break, as he also has the chance to win back-to-back Standish Handicaps with his tough sprinter Catapulted.
The seven-year-old resumed with a dominant win when lumping a big weight at Caulfield, adding to his imposing record when fresh.
It's an ideal position to be in for Kavanagh with two strong sprinters competing for good prizemoney during the off-season.