Kalgoorlie’s Rod ‘Freddo’ Brown hopes a change of plans will see Rhino Buster emerge victorious in the $70,000 Esperance Cup (2000m) on Sunday.
Brown entered Rhino Buster in two races on the Esperance program, but opted for the Esperance Cup after being swayed by jockey, Dan Staeck.
“The Esperance Cup was not part of my original plans, but I had a change of mind after talking with Dan,” Brown said.
“He was very persuasive and once he committed to making the weight that was good enough for me.
“Dan is a high calibre rider and is no dummy when it comes to horses so I was happy to take his advice.
“The other option was a mile race, but he would have copped a big weight, so that was something to consider.”
An Esperance Cup victory looms as a distinct reality for Rhino Buster who enters the feature race as one of the leading contenders.
That scenario seemed improbable three months ago when the former Perth sprinter commenced the Esperance season a maiden.
But the transformation is almost complete with the son of Danehill Express posting five wins and two placings from seven starts.
Win lose or draw he will take home Esperance Horse of the Year honours, capping a fine 2016-17 racing season.
Brown downplayed his role in Rhino Buster’s turnaround.
“He had feet issues so I believe the softer tracks have been a big help,” Brown said.
“He is also a horse that takes time to wind up in his races and the longer Esperance straight plays a part.
“He has been a model of consistency.”
A chink in Rhino Buster’s armour it could be his capacity to run out a strong middle distance trip, but Brown is undaunted and points to the four-year-olds only attempt at 2000m in January when he ran a half-length second to Great Shot.
“He was stepping up from 1400m and ran second to a horse that would have been hard to beat in the Esperance Cup if he were running,” Brown said.
“He ran really good and I have no concerns about the trip.”
Rhino Buster carries 54.5kg for Dan Staeck, a drop of 5 ½ kg on his last-start win on February 18. He jumps from gate six.
RWWA: Julio Santarelli