Brett Bunfield is one of a growing band of trainers who is putting a lot of faith and trust in water walkers to stimulate and condition horses during their racing preparations.
Horse paddle: Merrigum trainer Brett Bunfield is pleased with the results of his water walker.
The Merrigum mentor installed a water walker at his Ford Rd property earlier this year and it has been in consistent use since.
A water walker is a circular, half tunnel shaped walkway filled with a metre of water to cover the legs of the horses.
Bunfield has installed his walker, which is 56 m in circumference, as part of his training operation.
As well as using the facility for the horses he trains he also takes on outside horses to prepare for the racetrack or just to provide a break from the grind of constant track work.
His operation can comfortably cater for up to 20 horses at a time.
‘‘I get horses of all disciplines — standardbreds, thoroughbreds, quarter and show horses — the lot,’’ Bunfield said.
‘‘It’s not just for horses with leg or other problems. It is beneficial for all horses from my experience.’’
He points out the water walker serves a dual purpose in helping condition horses, but also providing them with a break from the rigours of constant track work.
‘‘It is very good in holding their fitness once they are race fit or just getting them ready for a racing campaign. They still have to do some work on the track, but this provides an alternative away from the track and they respond favourably to it,’’ Bunfield said.
‘‘Horses spend up to 40 minutes daily in the water walker in an interval training type approach, alternatively walking into a strong current and then with it behind them.
‘‘It is full-on for those experienced water walkers doing the 40 minutes, but newcomers are gradually introduced. Most take to it pretty well.’’
Bunfield has had some pleasing results from his walker.
‘‘I had the trotter Andyou here for a while and she won two races and was second in the Breeders Crown,’’ he said.
“I also had Brooklyn Brawler here for six weeks and he won two races straight away after he left.
‘‘One of my own horses Zermanion, who did a suspensory, also came back and won a race after his rehabilitation in the walker.
“When I had Saphirique she also spent a lot of time in the walker and was winning races for me. She is no longer with me, but I know she benefited a lot from the walker. It’s a winner as far as Im concerned.’’
Carlo sure can go
Star Shepparton pacer San Carlo made a triumphant return to racing last Friday night at Mildura in what proved to be big night for trainer Steve O’Donoghue’s Kialla stable.
San Carlo was too classy for a small field of rivals in the $10 000 Italian Cup over the 1790 m trip.
He had to do some work in the run, but pulled clear of his rivals in the home straight and went to the line untouched by his driver Bec Bartley.
He rated a creditable 1:55.9 for the trip on the tight circuit.
The eight-year-old Mach Three gelding was stepping out for the first time since running fourth in the Cranbourne Cup to Shadow Sax in March.
But he had a long and steady build up for his return to racing.
O’Donoghue said he had dodged the lucrative Victoria Cup run the next night with his stable star because he didn’t want to give him a gut buster first-up.
It was the start of a lengthy campaign for San Carlo which includes the Inter Dominion in Melbourne in early December, a series he won a heat and made the final of when it was staged in Western Australia last year.
He will also be aimed at the Miracle Mile and Hunter Cup early in the next year.
O’Donoghue said getting San Carlo to race fitness for this campaign had also taken a little longer than expected.
‘‘When we put him out for a spell in March he put on 70 kg, so it’s taken a while to get that off. He’s been in work for around four months, but he had only the one trial,’’ O’Donoghue said.
The Cranbourne Cup on Saturday night week and the Yarra Glen Cup are now on San Carlo’s immediate radar as a lead in to the Inter Dominion.
Although an eight-year-old San Carlo is lightly raced with only 34 starts for 22 wins and five minor placings.
San Carlo’s travelling companion Willem made the long trip north even sweeter for the O’Donoghue team when he saluted in a C2-C4 class race.
Willem, driven by Bartley, was also resuming after a lengthy break, not having raced since June.
He finished all over his rivals to win his ninth race from 31 starts.
Here’s a real winner
Smart Shepparton-trained pacer Heres A Real Go didn’t take long to make amends for an unlucky second placing at Wagga the previous week when he returned there last Friday.
This time the Dave Farrartrained four-year-old son of Changeover went one better to win in dashing style to notch his fifth win.
Reinsman Damian Wilson fully utilised Heres A Real Go’s barrier two draw to lead throughout over the short trip of 1755 m.
Heres A Real Go cruised to the finishing line more than 6 m clear of his nearest rival in slick 1:58.3 mile rate time which included sub 30 second sectionals for the first three splits of the final mile.
Farrar has had his share of success on Riverina tracks with Heres A Real Go, with two other of the geldings five wins registered on the Leeton and Albury circuits.
Heres A Real Go is out of Presidential Ball winning mare Style By The Mile and is a half brother to the well-performed pacer MacIntosh.
MacIntosh boasted 24 wins and 47 placings and more than $380 000 in prizemoney earnings from 141 starts racing in New Zealand and Western Australia.
Tinman is top dog
It turned into a battle between Tongala and Kyvalley at Melton on Victoria Cup night.
On the map they are only a few kilometres apart — Tongala a town, Kyvalley a district with a hall, a pool and tennis courts.
Representing Kyvalley in the T1-T2 class Race for trotters was Kyvalley Tinman and flying the flag for Tongala was Dynamic Legacy.
The Jim Connelly-owned, Brent Lilley-trained and Chris Alforddriven Kyvalley Tinman eventually prevailed.
But the Michael Watt-trained and James Herbertson-driven Dynamic Legacy gave him a run for his money and was closing in quickly at the finish to suggest he’s ready to return to the winner’s circle.
Dancing shoes on
Former smart Goulburn Valleytrained and owned trotter Barefoot Sally broke a long break from the winner’s circle when she saluted at Menangle last Saturday night.
Bred by Geoff Barnes and trained by Danny Ferris in her younger days, Barefoot Sally had not won a race since April 2016 when she scored at Melton.
She had had eight runs at Menangle and had four top four finishes in those outings in the lead up to her win there on Saturday.
Now an eight-year-old and another good advertisement for the bargain priced stallion Bacardi Lindy, Barefoot Sally has more than paid her way with her 12 wins and 17 placings in 64 starts producing earnings of more than $106 890.
Not Dunrobbin money
Promising Rochester-trained pacer Dunrobbin completed a hattrick of wins when he saluted at Cobram on Wednesday.
The We Will See four-year-old gelding claimed the honours in a C1 Only event with another dominant win for trainer Mark Thompson, rating a career best 1:57.
Dunrobbin, who was a $1.60 favourite was coming off wins at Shepparton and Echuca.
District trainers Patrick Ryan, Rosemarie Weidenbach, Mick McMahon and John Newberry enjoyed wins at the meeting and there’ll be more on those wins next week.
Trio back in play
Shepparton trots trio Nathan Jack, Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley have re-entered the driving ranks after securing a stay of proceeding until their appeal on November 9.
This follows their conviction at the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria on September 28 when they were fined and stood down after a lengthy inquiry process from a race at Cobram in 2015.