Turnitaround noses into G1 Toorak favour

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October 13, 2017 - 01:21 PM

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The journey of the aptly named Turnitaround has been remarkable.

He's gone from an honest handicapper, to a Group Three winner, to suffering a rare injury, to retirement, to lining up for his first Group One start.

And all this has happened in less than 12 months.

Turnitaround runs in Saturday's Toorak Handicap at Caulfield under apprentice Ben Thompson.

After winning last November's Group Three Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, Turnitaround contested the Ballarat Cup which heralded the start of the gelding's troubles.

Turnitaround struck his head coming out of the barriers, hitting a nerve on the side of his face which holds the nostril open while a horse is galloping.

"He crushed it but when we scanned it there was some nerve still attached," trainer Matthew Williams said.

"But when he started to do a little work one side of his muzzle would collapse and twitch over to the side."

He had a titanium plate inserted in the hope it would rectify the problem.

But Turnitaround got an infection and his body rejected the plate which started to protrude through the top of his muzzle, requiring further surgery to remove it.

"The vets said there was not much more we can do and said put him in the paddock and see what happens in a couple of months," Williams said.

After three months there was no change and Williams was considering retiring him and finding him a new home.

But one day Williams looked at Turnitaround and thought his muzzle had straightened.

"We put him on the treadmill, the nostril stayed open, the nerve had kicked in after six months and we haven't looked back since," Williams said.

Turnitaround runs for the third time since the Ballarat Cup in Saturday's Toorak.

He ran a first-up third over 1400m at Caulfield on September 2 before running sixth to Cool Chap over 1700m at Caulfield on October 1.

"About 50 metres into the straight I thought he was going to win when he gave a kick, but second-up at 1700 metres he just peaked after the long break," Williams said.

"I think he strips a really fit horse on Saturday, as fit as we can get him."

Williams had no hesitation in calling on Thompson who rode Turnitaround to back-to-back wins last year.