If You Say Goodbye ($6.50) wins tonight’s Group 1 Macro Meats Sapphire Crown at Sandown Park it will be a turnaround of monumental proportions.
Purchased for huge money almost 12months ago by WA owner Tony Corte after only four career starts for Kelvyn Greenough (which included three wins at Sandown Park), You Say Goodbye was sent to Corte’s trainer Steve McKenna, who is based at Napoleons in Victoria.
And while her good form continued initially, it soon tapered and, after a frustrating six months with McKenna, the impeccably bred daughter of Premier Fantasy and Hello Sienna was sent to a leading trainer in NSW in January in an attempt to recapture her undoubted promise. However, that experiment was short lived.
“She didn’t last long in NSW (three starts),” McKenna said. “I was hoping it would help her recapture the promise she showed early doors, but it wasn’t long before she was sent back to me.”
“We sent her there because it was such a frustrating experience training her. On her own she would trial brilliantly, but as soon as she struck any sort of pressure in her races she would throw in the towel.”
“She had a few critics because the word was out that Tony had paid big money for her, but Tony and I were probably her harshest critics,” McKenna said.
Since returning to McKenna, the half sister to group winners Cintiarna and Hello Good Bye has had 15 starts for five wins and six placings, and her appetite for racing is at an all-time high.
“She had a few critics because the word was out that Tony had paid big money for her, but Tony and I were probably her harshest critics” – STEVE MCKENNA
She showed considerable heart when running second to Zelemar Fever in a heat of the Sapphire Crown last week, and McKenna is quietly confident about her prospects of turning the tables on the WA star and claiming the $100,000 first prize in tonight’s final.
“I think she is some sort of chance tonight. She will typically begin well and then step right, so from Box 2 she may make life a little bit difficult for the favourite (Zelemar Fever), who is drawn in Box 3,” he said.
McKenna can’t put his finger on what has made You Say Goodbye a far more reliable racing prospect in recent months.
“It could be one of a number of things I’ve done differently with her, or maybe it’s a combination of all those things.”
“While she didn’t perform at her best in NSW, maybe the change of scenery turned her around, I’m really not sure. I’ve also taken her off a hormone to stop her coming on season since she has come back, so I’m not sure if that has anything to do with it (her turnaround in form).”
“I think it could be that I changed her training pattern a bit. She works hard in the galloping runs, and I continue to let her do that, but I’ve been taking her for a lot of walks through the local bushland here and that seems to have sparked her interest in racing.”
“She is a much harder chaser now than she ever was and I’m just rapt that she has turned her career around,” he said.
The Group 1 Sapphire Crown is Race 6 on the card tonight, which is scheduled to run at 8:52pm