Scone trainer Stephen Jones suspects he may have struck gold again via his long association with billionaire thoroughbred owner Gerry Harvey.
At Scone on Saturday, Hit The Target, a reformed problem horse, will be chasing back-to-back wins in only his third start.
Hit The Target was sent back to Jones, who had him as a foal, after he said “they lost the plot with him” in Hawkesbury.
The horse finished last in a seven-horse trial at Hawkesbury on November 13 last year, and then was spelled for 53 weeks. With Jones again overseeing him, he won a eight-horse trial at Scone on November 19 over 900 metres
In his first race start, over 1000m at Muswellbrook on November 30, he finished third, and then won over 1300m at Scone on December 14.
“He’s one of Gerry’s,” Jones said. “He come to me as a baby. I’ve always had a bit of a wrap on him. And he went to Sydney and they lost the plot with him down there. And he come back to me [after being gelded] and he’s been great.”
With Mitchell Bell on board on Saturday, Hit The Target will carry 58.5 kilograms and jump from barrier two in the Isis Motel Scone Class 1 Handicap (1300m).
If the horse wins, Jones plans to enter him in the Highway Handicap at Rosehill Gardens on January 19. He said the 1400m race “suits him to the ground”.
Hit The Target was “without a doubt” a good chance of winning on Saturday, he said, adding: “He’s got to be a good hope.”
Hit The Target, with Koby Jennings aboard, could not have been more impressive in winning last start at Scone. After having to work early, the saddle slipped mid-race, with both jockey and horse still game enough to forge clear upon straightening and win comfortably.
The son of Uncle Mo has shown he appreciates the sting out of the track. Both his starts have been on soft ground. However that looks set to change on Saturday, with a good surface likely.
Jones’s other runner on Saturday is Fort Jackson, whom the founder of Harvey Norman also owns.
Arguably Jones’s most unlucky runner to date, Fort Jackson looks well placed to finally break his maiden status, in the Pryde’s Easi Feed Maiden Plate (1300m).
Having had six starts for three placings, this five-year-old son of Redoute’s Choice has been plagued with terrible barriers. He will jump from gate five, his best draw yet, on Saturday, with Josh Adams booked to steer.
Jones said: “At his most recent start, we were again forced to work hard, sitting three-deep with no cover [and] still managing to fight on for an excellent second.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.