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Vaal trainer Lucky Houdalakis has a policy to let the horse dictate his or her program to the trainer rather than the other way around and it follows he must be happy with Mr Flood (Pathfork), who is back in big race contention.

The highly rated sprinter lines up in the Grade 2 Senor Santa Stakes at Turffontein Standside on Saturday.

Lucky said, “I am not the athlete. As soon as you try and plan a horse’s program with what you yourself want it is a recipe for disaster. You are just putting the horse under pressure. So I rather watch and see how the horses are doing and once I am happy with what I see I choose their races. When the horse is happy you go to the program, not before.”

Mr Flood made a fine comeback from a year-long layoff in 2019 to become the highest regarded sprinter in the country, to the extent he started 13/20 favourite for the 2020 Computaform Sprint.

However, he then went completely off the boil and at one stage had a sequence of last, second last, last.

Lucky said, “We looked at everything from lungs, to heart, to blood and after we got that sorted out he got injured.”

The six-year-old gelding’s recent comeback run was intended as a grass gallop to see whether he would return sound.

Yet, despite being underdone, he surprised the connections by winning the Vaal 1200m event like his old self, in fluent style and never looking under pressure. 

Lucky is aware of the second run after a rest theory but is not sure this applies to sprinters, so he goes in bullish of a good run on Saturday.

He had a good winner at Turffontein last week with the two-year-old first-timer filly Galla Vanting, who is by Querari out of a High Chaparral mare. 

He said, “She is lovely filly, small, but very quick. She is very well bred and I stole her for R150,000. That is a lot for me. I usually try and steal them for R50g or R70g or R80g, around there. But I went down to buy the brother and had no chance. He went for around R700,000.”   

Picture: Mr Flood (JC Photos).