By Michael Manley
Veteran trainer Tony Rosolini has no hesitation in backing up White Heath at Sale on Sunday a week after he took out his Maiden Hurdle at Pakenham.
Rosolini though is switching White Heath to the fences and he will contest the E-Cycle Solutions BM120 Steeplechase (3272 metres) at Sale on Sunday.
Rosolini believes White Heath is better fencer but in the future he plans to run him over hurdles and steeplechases, something the trainer was able to do with numerous good horses in the late 1990s and early 2000s when his gallopers mixed flat, hurdles and steeplechase races successfully.
The 76 year-old trainer is hoping White Heath is the horse which can again put his name to the forefront in feature jumps races.
For a period from the late 1980s to the mid 2000s, Tony Rosolini’s colours of red with white stars and red cap were to the fore on the flat and also in jumps races.
Along with the bright colours, his horses all contained the name of Benbara as a prefix or a suffix.
Flat horses such as Benbara Queen, Benbara Knight and Benbara King were all successful.
Then there were his trio of tough and talented flat horses who also achieved success over the jumps such as Noble Benbara, Classic Benbara and Prince Benbara who also flew his flag in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Rosolini’s best jumper though didn’t carry the Benbara tag as he was a Danehill horse called Specular, who he bought as a tried horse.
Specular won seven Hurdle races in a row 2002-2003 before he started at $2.35 in the 2003 Grand National Hurdle. His winning streak came to an end in the Grand National Hurdle when he was beaten in a photo finish by Alobar at Flemington.
After a hurdle record of eight wins and two seconds from ten starts, Specular attracted attention from jumps trainers all over the world.
The Grand National Hurdle second was his last Australian start as Rosolini sold Specular for $150,000 to owner JP McManus and he won two steeplechases for trainer Jonjo O’Neill.
Since then Rosolini eased back his training numbers but he’s hoping White Heath will keep his colours prominent for the next few years in feature races.
Rosolini is training only a handful of horses and he quipped he mighn’t be training at all but for the persuasive nature of his son and a few owners
“I only train for my son and a few owners who I can’t seem to get rid off,” he said.
Rosolini trains at Cranbourne and still uses his property at Pearcedale as his training base and has a handful of horses in work.
“I love training the jumpers. To me there’s a great sense of satisfaction in getting a horse fit enough to run over a long distance and to educate them to jump,” Rosolini said.
“Don’t get me wrong though. I’m still happy enough to train a 1000 metres horse but with them it’s get them ready and then they’re set to go.”
Rosolini said as White Heath was only five he wasn’t going to push him along this campaign.
He said he would run him on the flat over 2400 metres on Grand National Hurdle Day at Sandown Lakeside on August 1.
He said White Heath would also run on Grand National Steeplechase day at Ballarat in either the Gotta Take Care Hurdle or the BM120 Steeplechase.
“After that I’d give him a spell for two and a half months and bring him back for next year where I think he could contest some nice races. I think he’ll prove to be a very good fencer.”
Rosolini praised jockey Lee Horner’s ride to win last Sunday on him in the hurdle and he will ride him on Sunday.
Rosolini said he thought White Heath would have a great chance on Sunday but he was surprised by his quote as $2.70 with TAB fixed odds.