Lochinvar back on track after injury

Lochinvar Blanik with trainer Ruth King, who spoils him but brings the best out of him. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER
Lochinvar Blanik with trainer Ruth King, who spoils him but brings the best out of him. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER


They've thrown most conventional wisdom out the window just to get Lochinvar Blanik back on the track, but trainer Ruth King jokes it's the female touch which has been the making of a one-time "maniac".

"When it comes down to it, he's a woman's dog," King said ahead of tonight's Cyril Rowe Gold Plate (472-metre) final at Bulli.

"He loves us both, but he loves his mum and he's spoilt rotten. He just idolises [me]."

Which probably explains why King and husband Ray have done everything they can to mend the one-time problem child's ways.

That has included stem-cell treatment and frequent visits to the swimming pool across the road at Hussar's Lodge, the home of Kembla Grange's most famous thoroughbred racing family.

"He hadn't raced since November and we set this race as a goal," King said. "He just kept swimming, swimming and swimming and he'd walk a lot of a morning on the walking machine.

"His training preparation, mainly, is all swimming to keep him off his wrists.

"He had a fall over a dog at Wentworth Park and the dog broke its hock in front of him. He had to hurdle the dog and that was really the beginning of his injuries."

And despite the injuries plaguing the Kings in recent months, it was nothing compared to the mental state in which Lochinvar Blanik arrived at their kennel.

Owner Kevin Gordon and daughter Clare usually employ Newcastle conditioner Robert Smith to train most of their dogs, but sent an SOS to long-time friends, the Kings, further south.

"He was just immature and mental - just mad," Ray said. "He started twice at The Gardens and just scattered them.

"Kevin said, 'Ray, do you want a fast dog?' Bulli suits him and I took him out there and worked him and worked him and he's fell in love with the joint."

Now Lochinvar Blanik has a chance to make good on the promise he's shown on the big one-turn track in the $25,000-to-the-winner final.

Charging home to win last Monday's heat in his first run for more than two months, the 38-month-old will don the pink jacket from box eight.

Fastest qualifier Proven Maddy has drawn directly inside, in box seven. Ritza Ryder, who edged out Lochinvar Blanik in last year's Bulli Gold Cup final, will jump from the six alley.

"It's a very hard field and he could be boxed better, but that's no fault of anyone else's but mine because I was the first to pull his number eight out," Ruth said.

"He's just got to begin on even terms with the others, and normally when he goes in on the even numbers on the second line, he does begin better than being in the boxes a little bit."

Lochinvar Blanik will be set for the Group 2 Richmond Derby in March after tonight's final.


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