Hartani back at Sandown after long absence
A horse bought as a lead pony will make his racetrack return at Sandown, more than three years after his last start.
Formerly trained by Robert Hickmott for Lloyd and Nick Williams, Hartani runs for Mornington horsewoman Monica Cid in Wednesday's Le Pine Funerals Handicap.
Hartani has not raced since finishing 12th to Mujadale in the Bagot Handicap at Flemington on New Year's Day, 2016.
Cid bought the now 10-year-old for $3000 as a potential lead horse last September at a dispersal sale of Lloyd Williams' stock.
"I lost my best lead horse and I was looking for another one and I loved the look of him in the photos," Cid said.
"He's an absolute gem of a horse, but he's not going to make a lead horse.
"He likes his personal space and is a real show-off.
"He might be a 10-year-old but he acts like a two-year-old."
Despite the years away from racing, Cid said there has been no issues with the gelding who did his early racing in Ireland with John Oxx.
"Looking at the history of his stable returns, he's been in and out of work over that time," Cid said.
After realising his days as a lead horse were numbered, Cid set about getting the gelding back to racing trim.
She is not expecting a lot from Hartani on Wednesday with the 1600m short of his best distance and long-term, after more racing, he could be set for a country Cup.
"I've just been playing around, done a lot of ground work with him, given him a few jump-outs," Cid said.
"The horse feels great, definitely very sound, and he's thriving.
"I do a lot of beach work and I've got access to a lot of hills and that change has brightened him up.
"He pulls like a two-year-old and just wants to work and when they feel so happy and well, you've got to give them their opportunity.
"I feel he wants to go out there and run."
Jason Benbow has the ride on Wednesday.