In-form Cheyne and 'fighter' Public Figure continue their hot affair

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 February, 2011, 12:00am

Greg Cheyne continued his hot run of form and his hot affair with Public Figure, lifting his favourite galloper to the pair's fourth victory in a nail-biting finish to the Heather Handicap (1,600m).

It wasn't a new scenario for the Almond Lee-trained gelding and Cheyne as they fought head and head to the wire with the John Size-trained Hot Shot to land victory by a nostril, Cheyne has won his four races on the horse without recording a bigger margin than a neck.

'He's just a real fighter this fellow, he's been in so many close finishes and just refuses to give up,' Cheyne said. 'Public Figure has been a great horse to me in my time here, but he's also been a great horse for connections, he's probably run one bad race in his last 10 starts but I think he had excuses that day, too.'

Cheyne and Lee are of the opinion the gelding races best when not cluttered up by other horses in the run and formulated yesterday's tactics on the son of Bertolini accordingly.

'When he raced poorly last start he copped a bump and sustained a cut to his cannon in the run, and once that happened he just lost his nerve,' Cheyne said.

'You know yourself if your walking around the supermarket and the trolley clips your shin you are not going to feel too happy about it all, so I think you can just forget that race. 'It sounds funny to say, but this horse is a great fighter in a finish as he's shown over and over again, but I just don't think he is that brave and when he is bustled by other horses he isn't the same.''

Lee and connections are used to the tight finishes when watching their horse, but even yesterday's result left them guessing whether they should have been cheering or cursing their luck.

'Before the line I thought he had it, after the line I didn't know, and it was just good luck that he stretched his nose out,' Lee said. 'Greg has a great relationship with this horse and has helped me to work out his best racing style - today was the way he likes to run and working out his mental side has been crucial.'