Play Master has made a long overdue return to the winners’ circle with a long-priced win at Flemington.
The Benalla-trained galloper had been winless for a little over two years before taking out Saturday’s 1200m KA Morrison Handicap.
Play Master won the All Victorian Sprint Final at Flemington in July 2015 before running second in the Group Three Aurie’s Star Handicap the following month.
It was at that point trainer Peter Smith thought the sprinter was capable of being a Group winner.
But the gelding injured a suspensory in a foreleg requiring more than 12 months on the sidelines.
“They never come back quite as good,” Smith said.
Saturday’s outing was Play Master’s 13th since the injury.
Ridden by Luke Currie, Play Master ($31) scored by a nose from fellow roughie Kirani ($31) with the $3.20 favourite Divine Mr Artie 1-1/4 lengths away third.
Smith said Play Master had been racing well before finishing last at his most recent outing.
The trainer put the performance down to the firm track and when Saturday going was upgraded he did hold concerns.
“He’s a pretty tough horse and while we were down here, it’s a long way back to Benalla, so I thought we’d stick it out and see how we go,” Smith said.
“He’s only lightly raced and the really sad thing is he hurt himself two years ago and lost a year through injury with a suspensory problem.
“He does try and he’s a good horse without being a champion.”
Currie brought up a race-to-race double after guiding Lovani to victory in the ATA Trainers’ Trust Handicap.
For Currie, the win renewed a partnership with Smith.
“I’ve been riding for Pete for years,” Currie said.
“When I was a lot quieter and riding in the bush, I rode Hero Master and a couple of others for him.
“When he brought them to town, he was my main man to be riding for in town.
“Now I’m riding more in the city now but it’s nice to team with him again.”