Classy Tasmanian pacer Riverboat Jasper will take the next step on an eventful journey when he debuts for new trainer Maree Caldow at Melton on Saturday night.
It’s three years since the 2016 Easter Cup winner last raced in Victoria – when his campaign was cut short by illness – and Scottsdale owner Wayne Campbell believed the time was right for a second chance.
“He’d been going real good and we thought that he’d earned another trip,” Campbell said.
“There wasn’t a lot left for him here this season so we decided to send him over and test the water.”
Riverboat Jasper left a fortnight ago to join the Maree Caldow stable.
“I don’t know any trainers over there but Andrew Rawlings is now working for Maree and John Caldow so I gave him a ring,” Campbell explained.
“I asked him to get his boss to have a look at the horse racing in Hobart that Sunday night and see whether they thought he was worth sending over. He won.
“He’d also gone good at his previous start in the Golden Mile when a close fifth to Mister Lennox – the first five placegetters all broke the track record.”
Riverboat Jasper will tackle an M0/M1 race over 1720m on Saturday night.
“We weren’t intending to go to Melton first-up but the race they picked out at Bendigo got deleted,” Campbell said.
“So they made up a race at Melton for the horses that missed out which is why it’s worth only $5000.
“But it’s a chance to dip our toe in the water. If he goes well, we might leave him there a bit longer.
“If he came home, he’d only go for a spell anyway.”
Riverboat Jasper made his only previous trip to Melbourne as a four-year-old.
“He went over to Adam Kelly and went under 1:54 one night sitting in the death,” Campbell recalled.
“But he got crook after three runs so we brought him home to get him ready for the Sires Stake.
“He ended up running third in the final behind Devendra and Pachacuti.
“He’s always run well in the Sires Stake races – he ran third at two and second at three.”
Although Campbell has usually trained Riverboat Jasper himself, the horse scored his biggest win in the Easter Cup for fellow Scottsdale trainer Kent Rattray.
“I hadn’t been too good and I had too many horses so I leased him out for 12 months,” the owner explained.
“I’m 66 and not as fit as I was and I only like having one or two horses at a time.
“At that stage I had three so one had to go.
“Kent did a great job with him but by the time the 12 months were up I’d got a bit better so I took him back.”