Richard Freedman was surprised Love Tap went around a $2 favourite first-up but anticipates sharp improvement from the gelding this weekend.
Trainer Richard Freedman is expected marked improvement on Saturday from his smart gelding Love Tap in The Agency Real Estate Benchmark 78 Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill.
The son of Tapit was one of the most highly regarded prospects in the spring of his three-year-old season, winning the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes before a fourth placing in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes.
Love Tap then spent 31 weeks sidelined due to injury before returning last month in a 3YO set weights Plate race at Doomben.
“Some people don’t realise how long it can take to get a horse back to their absolute best from an injury,” Freedman, who trains in partnership with his brother Michael, said.
“His injury was quite serious. He severely capped his hock. He gave the joint a really big whack.
“I was pretty negative about him first-up. I told anyone who’d listen that I thought he was vulnerable.
“He was 1350 (metres) first-up on a small course that didn’t suit him on a soft track coming back from a long spell that was due to an injury.
“To me it didn’t add up to a horse starting at $2 but low and behold he was a beaten $2 favourite but I thought he ran well just the same.”
Love Tap was doing his best work late at Doomben, closing to within 1¾ lengths of Glitter Strip in the May 15 contest.
The trainer said Love Tap had made good progress since his racetrack return last month and he’s expecting good improvement at his home track this weekend.
“I’m expecting him to run better,” Freedman said.
“I think he’ll go well, his work says he’ll go well.
“I think he’s a horse best at 1600, 2000m.
“He might still find the 1500 a touch sharp for him but he’ll get his chance to run well.
“This preparation is about getting him back to find where his place is.
“Let him find his place, have him 100 per cent, give him a little break and get him back for the spring knowing what the suitable targets are.”
Love Tap is the $3.70 favourite for Saturday’s assignment where he will be ridden by Tim Clark.
Meanwhile, the stable’s other runner on Saturday is Resilient Star in the Fujitsu General 3&4YO Benchmark 72 Handicap (1400m).
Sam Clipperton takes the ride on the More Than Ready gelding which is at $19 in early markets.
“He’s only put the one poor run in this prep. If you can forgive that run and he has some luck from the gate, he’s right in it,” Freedman said.
“The gate isn’t ideal but he got back and ran on with a big weight last time. If he can repeat that he’ll be competitive.”