Former hot-head after hat-trick at Flemington

The calming effects of country trails and life away from major training centres has had a profound effect on South Australian galloper Arran Bay.

The son of All Too Hard had tested the patience of his trainer Phillip Stokes but on Saturday will be chasing a third straight win when he lines up in the Efficient Living Legends Plate (1400m) at Flemington.

Stokes said it was son Tommy and his partner, Adelaide jockey Kayla Crowther, that had got Arran Bay under control to the point where he has returned to Melbourne chasing a $71,500 first prize on Saturday.

“He was a bit of a hot-head and he’s racing a lot better,” Stokes told RSN.

“Tommy and Kayla have a little farm up at Wilunga and they work him in the forest up there.

“They’ve put a lot of work into him and it’s paying off.”

After one run as a two-year-old, Arran Bay was turned out for a spell before finding the 900m trip too short when resuming at Murray Bridge in October.

Taken to Morphettville on Melbourne Cup Day, Arran Bay broke his maiden status before leading throughout on the Morphettville Parks track, registering a 4-¾ length win, on November 20.

“This is a harder race but his sectionals and everything he’s done over there suggest that he is up to this class,” Stokes said.

“It’s his first trip away to the big stage at Flemington and as long as the day doesn’t get away from him, I’m sure he’ll run very well.”

Stokes said he will not be messing around with riding instructions for apprentice Alana Kelly.

After Kelly’s 3kg claim, Arran Bay will carry 55kg on Saturday.

“That’s why we’ve gone with the claim,” Stokes said.

“We’ll let him roll forward, get him into a nice rhythm and hopefully he can run out a strong 1400 metres at Flemington, and if he can, he will be hard to beat.”

Stokes said Arran Bay had returned to familiar territory last week having spent time at his Pakenham stable as a younger horse.

“He eats great. He had a maintenance gallop on Tuesday and I can’t fault the horse,” Stokes said.

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