DARREN Weir is taking care of business in the Warrnambool Racing Carnival.
Stable favourite Gotta Take Care gave the Ballarat trainer, who also has a satellite stable in the beachside city, his first feature win of the three-day carnival by taking out the Galleywood Hurdle, 3200m, on Wednesday.
Gotta Take Care was also the second leg of a treble for Weir for the day – following a double at the track on Tuesday.
His other winners came in the form of Bitter Dan ($4.40) in a maiden, 1400m, and Live For Today ($4) in a benchmark70 handicap, 1400m.
Ridden by stable jockey John Allen, Gotta Take Care ($2.40 favourite) ran down leader Valediction ($5) and then comfortably held Montgomery ($4.20) by more than three lengths.
The win confirmed Gotta Take Care’s versatility.
The nine-year-old, which with 18 wins has won more times than any other horse Weir has trained, now has seven hurdle wins and is group placed on the flat.
His career earnings are $870,000.
“Obviously to stay sound for that long (is an achievement), but he’s just an absolute ripper to have around the joint,” Weir said.
Weir said Gotta Take Care had once been destined for a limited career, but combining flat and jumps racing has brought the best out of him.
“He was a slow horse until he went jumping,” Weir said.
“He won an 1800m maiden at Mildura and I said to the owners, ‘you either get rid of him or jump him’.
“Jumping just got him switched on. It’s a great advertisement for jumps racing.”
Allen said Gotta Take Care’s class shone through and he was thrilled to partner him to victory after having to settle for second behind champion Black And Bent two years ago.
“He always jumped well, but he struggled in the worst part of the ground, up the straight the first time, but once I got him out into the fresher ground, he travelled a lot sweeter,” Allen said.
Weir indicated Gotta Take Care would follow a similar program to last season, when he won the Brendan Drechsler Hurdle at Bendigo and finished second in the Kevin Lafferty Hurdle.
“He’ll probably then go to Sandown and have another crack (at some jumps features) down there and then go back on the flat,” he said.
With five wins in the bag, Weir needs to land the listed $200,000 Warrnambool Cup with favourite Akzar or Tuesday’s winner. Shiny Buttons, to secure a Warrnambool Racing Club trainers’ bonus, which goes to any trainer who can win four races, including one of the feature events over the three days.