High Torque

High Torque winning at Sale (Image: Racing Photos)

Grass greener with talented Torque

Many young trainers use a good horse as a chance to showcase their talents in the hope of growing their business.

Not so Dean Grass.

Instead of singing his own praises about his handling of emerging three-year-old High Torque, who tackles Saturday's McGregor Portables Super Impose Stakes (1800m) at Flemington, the Pakenham horseman credits his wife with what he hopes will become one of the fairytale stories of the spring.

Bought as a yearling and prepared for the Inglis Ready 2 Race Sale before being passed in, the son of Toronado is Grass' only horse in training and could emerge as a legitimate Derby contender should he perform well on Saturday.

"My wife Phoebe has got a brilliant eye for a horse," Grass said.

"She saw him at the sales and told me that he was a little underdone but had a long, flowing walk and carried himself like he was 18 hands tall.

"That's the reason we picked him up for $20,000.

"Ever since I broke him in, he's had that mindset of a real racehorse, he wants to work and he's a real professional, nothing really fazes him.

"The good thing with him is that he came through the Ready to Run training side of things so he was well educated early and I think it definitely shows."

High Torque tackles Saturday's $175,000 contest a fortnight after breaking his maiden over 1600m at Sale in what was his third career start.

Grass admitted that his phone had been ringing ever since with offers from overseas buyers and encouragement from rival trainers, several of whom suggested he should consider aiming the three-year-old towards the Derby.

The colt worked strongly at Pakenham on Tuesday, prompting Grass to declare him capable of taking the step to Stakes grade. 

"He came through the Sale win as good as we could've hoped for," he said.

"He had a nice gallop on Tuesday with Jamie Bayliss aboard, I thought it was a beautiful piece of work.

"I'm not going into Saturday's race thinking of myself as the little country underdog but I'm definitely not declaring him either.

"It's a big step up from maiden grade and there are some very smart horses in the race.

"Some very good judges were calling me after the maiden win to make sure that I had him nominated for the Derby.

"That (Derby) is in the back of our minds but the most important thing for us is that the horse is happy, comfortable and enjoying his job.

"If he runs well on Saturday then we might have a go."

A win on Saturday would be a clear career highlight for Grass, who has spent a lifetime working with horses and the best part of a decade involved in racing.

Training forms only a small part of an operation that includes breaking-in thoroughbreds, trading and sales preparation under his Gippsland Bloodstock banner.

"My dad broke in horses so I basically grew up riding and by the time I was 18, I was working with horses for a living," he said.

"I've competed and worked with horses in a lot of different disciplines away from racing and I think that's probably my strength.

"I think it helps to be able to look at a horse as exactly that, whether it's a racehorse, show horse or show jumper."