Schmidt’s perfect ‘prep’ for Auction Series
By Mike Hill
JASON Schmidt was a happy man after pulling off a huge training feat with his ‘special’ sprinter Rio Valiente.
The black dog – the only pup from a Zambora Brockie-Mercedes Lass mating – had just given Schmidt his biggest success with victory in the $59,500 Group 3 Alan Price Memorial Auction Series (520m) at Ipswich in late September.
The Beachmere-based trainer admitted he had been forced to nurse his budding star through the three-race series.
“He’s had a few little niggling injuries,” Schmidt said. “I’ve had to keep him on the lead just to get him through the series. Just a bit of walking.
“This was the first week I was able to give him a gallop between runs.”
And it obviously paid big dividends.
Rio Valiente, well-supported at $3.20, exploded to the lead on the top turn before racing away for a stunning four-and-a-half lengths win over the Serena Lawrance-prepared Head Bairn ($16) with $71 outsider Daniel’s Loss, trained by Matt Evans, another one-and-a-quarter lengths back third.
Schmidt said Rio Valiente’s fast-finishing second in the semis seven nights earlier had given him hope going into the rich final.
“And when he drew box three I knew we were in with a strong chance … I was fairly confident,” he said.
“I wanted to draw near the fence … one, two or three. Then he could sit behind the leaders and get dragged along. He has a very strong second and third section.”
The final panned out pretty much as Schmidt had hoped.
The two other fancied runners – Peter O’Reilly’s $2.50 favourite Flying Jet (box 8) and the Brian Francis-trained $3.70 hope Double Return (box 1) were quick to begin and were vying for the lead passing the post the first time before coming together.
They jammed up and it proved disastrous for Flying Jet.
He lost his momentum and dropped back while Double Return pushed on to a three lengths advantage heading down the back straight.
But as Schmidt knew, Rio Valiente began to power up and by the top turn he had the final at his mercy, racing away in the straight for a memorable win.
Luck also played its role in the victory.
Not only did Schmidt have to contend with some niggling injuries to his talented sprinter, he also admitted it was likely Rio Valiente would have missed the Auction Series if it had gone ahead as planned in April.
Officials were forced to delay the rich series after the COVID-19 shutdown earlier in the year.
“If we had raced then I don’t think Rio Valiente would have been ready for the series,” he said.
Schmidt, who was in the game in the 90s before returning eight years ago, said Brockie – the sprinter’s kennel name – had been ‘firing’ leading into the rich Group 3 Vince Curry Memorial for maidens in February.
“He was running some quick times in trials but he broke down, injuring a metacarpal,” he said.
“That put him out of action for six weeks.
“We missed the Vince Curry and I don’t think I would have had him ready for the Auction Series if it had gone ahead in April.”
“We’re lucky it was delayed.”
Schmidt said he was unsure of Rio Valiente’s next mission. He said he had nothing definite pencilled in.
“I’ll wait and see how he pulls up in the morning,” the trainer said.
“If he’s really good I might look at the Ipswich Derby, if not, I’ll give him a few weeks off and go to Albion Park for the Rising Star.”
The victory took Rio Valiente’s impressive record to five wins and seven placings from 15 starts and boosted his prizemoney to $56,100.
The trainer said the Schmidt Hot Syndicate, owners of Rio Valiente and others, was a family affair involving himself, his brother Craig and nephew Scott Dionysius.
And it was a huge night for the boys.
Not only did Rio Valiente win the big feature, but Craig was successful with Savitar ($4.40) in the $10,5000 Auction Series Consolation and Scott led in maiden winner Bonita Flame ($10).
Caption: Happy winners … the Schmidt family (from left) Craig, Livvy, Olivia, Brianna, Jason and Suzanne and Scott Dionysius (cap) with their G3 Ipswich Auction Series winner Rio Valiente. (Photo: Just Greyhound Photos)