Matai Prince returns to the birdcage in the hands of driver
Clark Barron after breaking maiden ranks at Waikouaiti on
Sunday. Photo by Matt Smith.
Edendale trainer Alex Milne thought he might have a good
youngster on his hands three seasons ago.
But 33 starts later, it was relief he felt when Matai Prince
finally came home at the head of the field, holding off a
late bid from Franco Ryker in a non-winners' mobile pace at
Waikouaiti on Sunday.
Milne bred the Badlands Hanover gelding out of the five-win
BG's Bunny mare Matai Gigi with his father, Alec, and
initially thought a win would be just around the corner,
especially after he qualified at Balfour in November 2009 by
''I thought I had a really nice horse and then mentally, he
just hasn't been able to handle racing,'' Milne said.
Matai Prince failed to place as a 3yr-old in four starts, and
claimed a solitary third in six starts as a 4yr-old. The lean
patch continued in his 5yr-old year as he finished third just
once in 14 starts.
After eight starts for nothing as a 6yr-old, Milne decided
Matai Prince needed a change, so he dropped himself from
driving duties and handed the reins over to Clark Barron.
''In desperation, I had a change of driver, and it's worked
the oracle on the grass,'' Milne said.
''They get used to you after a while.''
Despite the frustrating formline, Milne was pleased with what
he saw at Cromwell when the gelding finished sixth behind Den
Helder, and decided the grass surface was the best option,
especially after two more subsequent runs out of the money on
the all-weather surface.
You get the feeling Milne would have kept trying to crack
Matai Prince's maiden status, even if it took another 33
''You get determined, because I knew he was good enough to
win as a 3yr-old and you just keep going until you get that
win,'' he said.