Former champion Good Ba Ba returns to racing despite age
Good Ba Ba's new trainer Rick Hore-Lacy has cast aside the controversy surrounding the racetrack return of the former champion today at Flemington, in Melbourne, insisting the 11-year-old is "perfectly sound" and nominating a Group One mile race in April as the horse's ultimate target.
Owner John Yuen Se-kit attracted widespread criticism last year when he announced he would bring his three-time Hong Kong Mile winner out of retirement - even Hong Kong Jockey Club chief Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges weighed-in, calling it "sad … that a champion like Good Ba Ba is not given a well-deserved retirement."
After an aborted move to Macau, and more than 18 months on the sidelines, Good Ba Ba will start at around 14-1, carrying top weight in today's Standish Handicap over 1,200 metres, with his trainer saying his new acquisition would be "getting back early and running home late", but not buying into the emotional debate about the horse's return.
"I'm not going to get into that, it's got absolutely nothing to do with me," Hore-Lacy said.
"I'm not interested in the politics; I've been given the horse to train, and that's what I've done. We're looking forward to the race and hopefully he runs well."
Hore-Lacy said the horse did not have any major issues and felt he was chosen as trainer for Good Ba Ba because of his ability to provide more hands-on care.
"I only have a small team these days," he said. "I think Mr Yuen wanted a trainer with a smaller team who could possibly give the horse a bit more attention - I believe that was the thinking in giving the horse to me.
"There's certain things you can do with horses, when you've got a smaller team - give them an extra pick of grass in the afternoon. When you've got 100 horses, you can hardly do things like that. The horse is perfectly sound, but we swim him a lot, and we can do the little things that can't always be done in really busy stables."
Should Good Ba Ba come through with a clean bill of health today, Hore-Lacy said he will plot a path to the Doncaster Handicap at Randwick on April 20.
"We'll get over this run first and see how he goes, but obviously we'll build him up to his best distance. A nice race for him might be the Doncaster - it's a mile around Randwick, which is a nice big course that will suit him."