THERE is more than a touch of Mark Waugh about emerging pacer Yambukian.
No matter what the four-year-old does, he will forever play second fiddle to his brother.
Yambukian’s equivalent of Steve Waugh is Victoria’s champion three-year-old Catch A Wave, who boasts nine wins from just 10 starts and is one of the most exciting pacers in this part of the world.
In the words of Andy Gath, who trains the siblings: “He’s destined to live in the shadow of his brother, but still have a great career himself.”
Yambukian has raced just 20 times for nine wins, five placings and $113,050 in prize money.
The big, burly gelding, who like Catch A Wave is also raced by Richard and Pauline Matthews, is a commanding favourite to win Saturday night’s Group 3 Melton Pace Final (2240m) at Melton.
“He’s got through his classes quickly and he’s got a back row draw (gate nine) against a good field. It won’t be easy, but he’s a lovely horse,” Gath said.
“He and Catch A Wave are totally different horses, but we think Yambukian can keep going through the grades. We’re thinking about nominating him for the Inter Dominion (later this year).”
And what about Catch A Wave?
“He had his first trial back (from a spell) at Melton on Monday night and it was a terrific performance. He ran his last mile in 1min52.6sec and it was great to see him savage the line in a 26.9sec last quarter,” Gath said.
“The main thing with him now, to take the next step, is becoming a more complete racehorse and learning to relax better. He did still get a bit keen the other night.
“There is a $40,000 3YO race for him at the end of the month, but we’ll try and find a race for him before then. He’s ready to race now and needs racing to keep learning.”
Yambukian isn’t Gath’s other feature race prospect on Saturday. He and wife, Kate, also have stable newcomer Just A Bit Touchy as an odds-on favourite in the Group 1 Australasian Premier Trotting Sale final for three-year-old fillies.
“She hasn’t been in the stable long and we’re still learning about her,” Gath admitted.
“This race sort of snuck up on us a bit, but she was dominant winning her heat and it’s pretty much the same field again in the final.
“She’s not completely foolproof yet, but she’s got a big, big motor and she’s a lovely filly to have join the stable.”
Gath’s major owner, Norm Jenkin, bought Just A Bit Touchy with a view to some major races in the back half of this year.
“She wasn’t cheap, but she’s got this race, the Need For Speed, Oaks, maybe the Derby, the Breeders Crown and Vicbred as well … she can race for a lot of money in the next few months alone,” Gath said.