FORMER boom sprinter Loaded Owners looked destined never to win another race after a tendon injury cut him down in his prime and he struggled to recover.
However, at Spreyton on Sunday, he was back in the winner’s stall for the first time in four years after a dominant performance that suggested more wins are in store.
The nine-year-old, ridden by apprentice Hayley McCarthy, overcame a wide barrier and 61 kilograms to outclass his rivals in the Benchmark 62 Handicap.
Loaded Owners was trained by his part-owner Jason Clifford until he handed in his licence at the start of the new season.
The gelding is now with leading trainers David and Scott Brunton at Seven Mile Beach.
‘‘I moved out to the Bruntons about a month before my licence expired and the horse has really improved since being back on the beach,’’ Clifford said.
Loaded Owners won his first three starts as a three-year-old in 2009, prompting Clifford to take him to Melbourne.
‘‘But he didn’t take to that environment so I brought him home,’’ the trainer recalled.
‘‘He soon started winning again and was unlucky not to win the Newmarket Handicap [in 2010].
‘‘But then he did a tendon. He missed 12 months’ racing but, even when he came back, he never felt quite right.
‘‘We couldn’t work him on a normal track, because he’d pull up sore, so we just had to lead him off a pony.’’
When Clifford relocated to Victoria, he took Loaded Owners with him, but the gelding was still unable to recapture his best form.
The trainer eventually returned to Tasmania last year and Loaded Owners had a handful of runs with limited success.
However, his last run before a spell encouraged Clifford to give him one more campaign.
‘‘He ended his last preparation with a slashing third on the synthetic track at Spreyton so I decided I’d give him three or four months out and bring him back for one last hurrah,’’ Clifford said.
‘‘He’d also trialled well on the synthetic track at Geelong while I was away, which is why I suggested to Scott [Brunton] that we target these races at Devonport.
‘‘Because his rating has dropped so much, I think he’s got two or three more wins left in him.’’