Spreyton trainer Adam Trinder isn't surprised that his former stable member Hard Empire has turned out to be a good horse but he didn't expect him to be contesting group 1 sprint races.
Hard Empire, still part-owned in Tasmania but now trained in Adelaide by Richard and Chantelle Jolly, will have his first start at the elite level in Saturday's $750,000 Goodwood Handicap at Morphettville.
Although one of the outsiders, he won the group 3 Irwin Stakes two starts ago and his overall form has earned him the second highest weight of 56kg.
Hard Empire had his first seven starts for Trinder and the trainer had staying ambitions for the Hard Spun gelding.
"He showed good ability as an early two-year-old and I was pretty confident he'd win his first start which was on the synthetic at Spreyton (in April 2016)," Trinder recalled.
"He also won his only other two starts that season including the Sires Produce but I probably went down the wrong track with him as a three-year-old.
"I was hoping to push him out to the Tasmanian Derby but that didn't work.
"I was influenced a bit by the fact that we'd won the Derby the previous year with Jerilderie Letter and Hard Empire was able to work with him.
But, with the benefit of hindsight, he was a sprinter not a stayer."
Hard Empire had his last local start when unplaced in the 2017 Tasmanian Guineas won by Hot Dipped.
By the time he returned as a four-year-old, he had joined the Darren Weir stable.
He won two Victorian provincial races for Weir but the trainer thought he would be better suited in South Australia and recommended another change of state.
Since joining the Jolly stable, the now five-year-old has won four races, all at Morphettville, and earned another $175,000.
"I always thought that he'd get there as a horse so I was a bit disappointed with his form in Victoria but he really picked up when he went to Adelaide," Trinder said.
TEN RACES FOR MOWBRAY FINALE
A big 10-race program will wind up turf track racing for the 2018-19 season at Mowbray on Sunday.
The remaining 10 meetings will be on the synthetic surface at Spreyton.
The $50,000 Tasbred 2YO is the feature race, supported by two $20,000 open handicaps over 1420m and 2150m.
Victorian apprentice Harry Grace has five rides for Scott Brunton and Tegan Keys and one for Siggy Carr.
They include Count Da Vinci and Earl Da Vinci who have been handicapped on 62.5kg and 63kg respectively.
Grace, who has ridden 60 winners, can claim 2kg in Tasmania.