SHE’S the reigning queen of the Victorian country racing circuit, and she steps out today as the mainstay of a trio of runners who could propel the Mornington-based training partnership of David Brideoake and David Feek to their best spring.
Dance With Her, a six-year-old mare, was named the Victorian country horse of the year last month following a barnstorming 2011-12 season in which she won the Pakenham and Warrnambool cups as well as Bendigo’s valuable Golden Mile.
Today she will trip the light fantastic at Flemington as the first step of what her trainers hope will end in a date at the biggest fling of all, headquarters on the first Tuesday in November for the Melbourne Cup.
With a handicap rating of 103 Dance With Her still has some way to go to win a place in the field, but the duo are convinced that if she does get there she will have no trouble running out the marathon trip. And if the rain comes and the track is heavy, so much the better as she is a noted mudlark.
”The Makybe Diva Stakes is a tough assignment but she has surprised first-up before. She won the Golden Mile at Bendigo and we thought that might be a bit short for her,” said Feek, an Englishman who joined forces with the former Australian showjumping rider Brideoake two years ago.
”If she is going to have a chance of beating horses like these, it might be at this time. We think she has earned her ticket to take these horses on and whatever happens it will give us an idea of what direction we will need to follow. She showed she coped with distance when running second to Lights Of Heaven – in front of Mawingo – in the Brisbane Cup and before that she won the Warrnambool Cup over almost 2400 metres.”
Brideoake and Feek also have two of their established city horses – Biancon Rose in the group 2 Lets Elope Stakes and the veteran stayer I’m Jake in the 2000-metre handicap – running at Flemington.
While Brideoake has won group 1 races in Western Australia with the mare Grand Journey and proved his versatility by preparing Kaisersosa and Millenium Dancer to win major jumps races almost a decade ago he has never really had a spring star before. ”[Dance With Her] has to improve to get there, but it would be such a thrill to have a cup runner. We have a lot of options with her, and even if she isn’t quite up to that, there is plenty of stake money around to be earned,” Brideoake said.
”She is very tough and has a marvellous constitution. She can back up and is such a good wet-tracker, we know that if things turn out out to be really wet it can play in her favour and bring us right into it. I am very confident she can run the Melbourne Cup journey if she gets there.”
Brideoake’s has been a life steeped in horses, as has been his partner Feek’s.
The Australian was an accomplished equestrian, narrowly missing selection for the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics, while the Englishman has spent his life in the industry since starting out with top English trainer Richard Hannon after leaving school.
”I was heavily involved in the equestrian world, but after failing to make the Sydney Olympics the focus turned mainly to racehorses rather than showjumpers,” says Brideoake.
”There was not a lot of money in it – you get enough to get by, like so many of the Olympic sports. It’s a lifestyle choice. But it was a very good grounding with horses. You are with your horse all the time, and at that stage there were a lot of ex-racehorses coming into showjumping and they had to be kept sound and fit and on the go.”
Feek had been to Australia earlier in his career, working for Peter Hayes and John Hawkes in the late 1990s before returning home to work as assistant trainer to Ed Dunlop (who sent Red Cadeaux to run such a close second in last year’s Melbourne Cup). He had a spell as a licence holder in England in his own right before opting to move back here with his wife, Coral (the daughter of English trainer Gardie Grissell), for a job with Lee Freedman at Markdel.
It was when Coral began riding work regularly for Brideoake that the idea of combining took root.
”We developed a working and personal relationship. We talked about me joining him with a view to establishing a training partnership,” says Feek. ”It was an opportunity for me to develop my career in my own right, to manage the training of the horses and the team of staff. It’s a great chance for me to raise my profile and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
”We haven’t fallen out – not yet anyway. We knock ideas around but we are probably of the same mind on a lot of things.”
Said Brideoake: ”I went into partnership with David mainly so that I could get a bit bigger, develop the business. It’s very hard to get the right people who you think can fit into your environment. David and Coral were a perfect combination.
”David is very good in the stable and it gives me time to work at building up the business, finding and sourcing better horses, looking for owners and dealing with buyers,” Brideoake added.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.