When Warrior King sizzled around the Horsham 480 metre trip in the first heat of the 2014 Horsham Cup, he surprised plenty of people by stopping the clock at 26.76. Co-trainer Jamie Ennis was not one of those people.
But it wasn’t instant success for the youngster, who has only started to fully realise the potential that he exhibited as a pup in the last six weeks. He has now won five of his last six race appearances and taken his overall record to eight wins from 20 starts.
Ennis told ARG that, although the emphatic heat win was no shock, his maturity in recent times certainly has been.
“I wasn’t surprised by his actual ability or the time but I have been by his his attitude,” he said.
“In the last four or five weeks he has really lifted a notch as a race-dog. Before that, his record didn’t attach to his ability, blaming mainly bad box draws and just getting tangled up and not beginning as well as we would have hoped for.”
Besides a run of average boxes early in his career, another reason that Warrior King has slowly put it all together could be the fact that he is still very young. As Ennis explains, it is a catch-22 situation with a precocious pup when choosing whether to race them young or hold them back and keep trialling.
“It’s a bit funny, you have a look at a lot of good dogs. The one’s that possess a lot of ability, they normally start at a bit younger age. He sort of came to hand pretty quick and showed a lot of natural ability. He got to the races probably three quarters educated instead of us taking our time to educate him fully to have a terrific record on his CV, but sometimes that can work against you too. You go to field trials and there’s no-one there to run against you anyway, so you may as well go to the races. He kept drawing bad, he’d go to town and he is desperate for the fence and just kept drawing seven or eight.”
Now that Warrior King looks to have made the transformation into a professional competitor, Ennis hopes that the form continues and that the 35kg red brindle dog develops into a regular in these types of races.
“We just hope he can keep racing at the level he has been racing at. If he does, he is going to be a more-than-handy dog. His previous record suggested that he was probably going to be a bit of an enigma. He used to have a few outs, but now it seems he has put it together and he is putting his head down and boxing a little bit better. He has just been a better race dog lately and his potential is starting to come through.”
Should the run continue, Ennis has his eye on a trip to the Sunshine State next month for his promising dog and also says that further down the track, he may well race over more ground.
“He is a very strong dog. I would say he will probably end up racing over 600 later in his career. It’s just that the options are so good at the moment. There’s a lot of good races coming up. He probably will nearly have to win or run a really good race to say that he is good enough to chase the Easter Egg. At such a young age, it’s probably too hard, but sometimes with travelling and dogs, they do tend to grow up a bit and it’s a different track for them. I am keen to get him to the Queensland Derby though, later on in April, that’s what I would say is his main target after this.”
Ennis was also responsible for the tutelage of Warrior King’s regally bred dam, Flamenco, but says there is not a lot that the pair have in common.
“There’s not really many similarities, she was a funny little bitch. She was very quiet and wasn’t the bravest soul in the world. Hence that she didn’t have many starts, but her record was good. She was a stayer, I wouldn’t say she was a superstar, but she had ability and with her attitude, she was probably always going to be a better brood-bitch with her breeding.”
When it comes to this Saturday night’s final, Ennis says there could be one small hurdle to deal with early on in proceedings.
“Box three looks okay, the only concern is Musquin Bale, who drew directly outside us last week, but is inside us in the final. He did come out last week but probably stays straight. If anything, he uses the track a little bit and gave us a chance to drive through. If I have a concern this week, that would be it.”
Win, lose or otherwise, the name Warrior King may be worth scribbling down in the black-book as one to keep a close eye on in the future.