The 2015 Victorian Horse of the Year, Menin Gate, is exactly the kind of horse racing fans warm to; a fierce competitor with a will to win and a tenacity that stables him in the hearts of punters.
His trainer and driver, Michael Stanley, describes Menin Gate as “a warrior”, and now that he's back, all going well, he promises to be a headline act at this year’s Victorian TAB Inter Dominion.
Last Friday night’s courageous 3SH Swan Hill Cup win saw Menin Gate's customary fight in full view, holding off fitter challengers such as Jet Roofing Kilmore Pacing Cup winner Im The Boss and rising metro star Magical Marn to win the second leg of the Victorian Trots Country Cups Championship at his first run back in almost 18 months.
“He’d been in work for quite some time,” Stanley told RSN’s One Out, One Back this morning.
“His work here had been really good … you can be confident that they’re working well, but the race fitness is always a bit of a worry in the back of your mind when you’re coming up against a horse like Im The Boss, who’s coming off a Kilmore Cup win and a slashing race in the Victoria Cup.
“… The one thing that stood out the most for us was that he still had that fight. Now we can press on with great confidence.”
When Menin Gate was judged overall Victorian Horse of the Year he was just three years old. Among his many nicknames during that thoroughly dominant season was “the people’s horse”, such was his popularity.
Stanley is now looking forward to trying to make every harness participant's lifelong dream a reality come December 1.
“It’s the pinnacle of our sport,” he said of the TAB Inter Dominion.
“That’s what we all grow up dreaming to win. Just to be competing in an Inter Dominion is a great thought let alone thinking about winning one so we won’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”
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