First For Seib As Associate Secures Final Country Championships Spot

By Ray Hickson

Trainer Danielle Seib is beginning to think there’s a real sense of timing about Associate’s bid for next month’s $1 million Newhaven Park Country Championships Final after a stunning last to first Wild Card win at Goulburn.

The four-year-old is described as a bit of a problem child by Seib but she feels the manner of his win in the $150,000 last ditch qualifying race illustrates that he’s starting to work things out.

It was a cool ride from Zac Lloyd on the well supported favourite and when he hit the line a length in front of Zouatica it looked all too easy. Bon Frankie, as he did in the Moruya Championships, held third.

The win saw Associate vault into $11 for the Final at Randwick on April 6 and he'll be Seib's first runner in a Country Championships Final.

“It’s very special, we’re a young stable building a really good base,’’ Seib said.

“We’ve got lots of really nice young horses, he’s not young but he’s in that category. He’s lightly raced, we’ve always had a high opinion of him and he has a good horse’s attitude.

“He’s here today sound and happy and showing what he can do. It’s nice to be the in-form horse and he has a fortnight to stay nice and fresh and produce him then.”

It was the gelding’s third win from just nine career starts and Seib said it’s a credit to her team, including her partner and farrier Aaron Day, that Associate is able to begin to realise his potential.

Seib said Associate should appreciate racing in a big field like in the Final where there’s usually a solid tempo, which there wasn't in the Wild Card, as he showed in taking the final place in the race he has a strong burst when able to produce it.

“He’s had a luckless career to date, he’s had a lot go wrong,’’ she said.

"I don’t think there’s a horse that would be as suited to Randwick as he is, 1400m on a big track.

“It took the whole length of the straight here to get by but he’s going to relish the high pressure.

“He’s getting more polished all the time, he got a bit of a wobble up at the top of the straight when Zac asked him to go but he did really knuckle down and come between horses with more of an idea.”

Lloyd could well have secured the ride on Associate for the Final and was suitably impressed with the performance.

“It was a very good win, not much went right for him especially early,’’ he said.

“There wasn’t as much tempo as I anticipated, he’s a bit clumsy and I knew navigating wasn’t going to be easy so I tried to make it as smooth as possible.”