From the moment Matthew Kelley first sat on the back of a youngster by Spill The Beans he knew there was “something special” about the then unraced two-year-old – little did he know how significant the horse known as I’ve Bean Tryin’ would be to him.
At the time he was being trained by Kelley’s father David and he didn’t come into the 26-year-old’s care until he opened his own stable in June last year.
Now a four-year-old, I’ve Bean Tryin’ holds the place of Kelley’s first winner as well as his first city winner and heads a trio from the young Canberra trainer’s stable in Sunday’s $150,000 Newhaven Park South East Country Championships (1400m) at Moruya.
“I rode him as a two-year-old before he had his first barrier trial and the things he was doing on the track suggested to me he was something special,’’ Kelley said.
“At that stage I hadn’t ridden a lot of horses with a massive motor so it was hard to gauge how good he really was.”
Since I’ve Bean Tryin’ scored a TAB Highway win in July, Kelley has been looking at the Country Championships and has covered all bases when it comes to giving the horse the best chance to qualify for the $500,000 Final at Royal Randwick on April 1.
He’s taken the horse to Moruya for a barrier trial prior to his first-up run and after the four-year-old’s eye-catching fourth at Warwick Farm on Australia Day he appeared in a trial at Goulburn to top off his preparation.
“If we end up going to the Wild Card he’s had a gallop on both tracks and knows what the go is,’’ Kelley said.
“We had to go back to near last at Warwick Farm and he started to round them up around the home turn and he didn’t really get into fifth gear until the 200m.
“His last sectional would have been fastest of the race. That was over 1200m and going off that you’d think he would be pretty smart second-up over 1400m.
“The thing that gets me excited about him is after last prep we gave him a really good spell and he’s come back bigger and stronger.
“I feel like he’s improved a length or two from last prep and if that’s the case he’s got to run an absolute bottler.”
Quayde Krogh rides I’ve Bean Tryin’, who drew 17 prior to emergencies coming out, Louise Day partners Invertational from gate four while Ellen Hennessy is on board Prophet’s Pride from barrier 13.
If three-year-old filly Invertational is Kelley’s second stringer for the Country Championships then she’s a pretty handy back-up – the three-year-old has won four of her six starts, including her past three, and he says she’s not out of place at Moruya despite her inexperience.
She chased hard to win a Federal over 1400m at Canberra on February 3 and Kelley feels by the time the 2024 Country Championships comes around she’ll be ineligible given the restriction of five career wins.
“There were so many different paths you could take with a three-year-old filly with the record she’s got. But she’s proved she’s going well enough to go in that type of field,’’ he said.
“Invertational is very untapped, you can only win what you’re put in. Every one of those wins have been well above average wins.
“I do a fair few of the gallops on the horses and I always gauge her gallops compared to I’ve Bean Tryin’ and if they’re not on par half of her gallops are sometimes better.
“That cemented in my head that she has to have a go. If she’s going just as well as him she should be there as well.”
Prophet’s Pride has only been with Kelley for four starts but she’s yet to miss a placing in Class 3 company and he said her racing style gives her a chance.
However, she has to cope with the jump to 1400m after her first-up third over 1000m at Wagga just over two weeks ago.
“We’ve taken an easier route for her and she’s been very genuine and performed well,’’ he said.
“The weight and her racing pattern will be more in her favour, she’s an on speed horse and she’s fit. She’s going to roll forward and if she’s not leading she’ll be second or third and make her own luck.”
Kelley said it’s hard to comprehend sometimes how he’s risen from having his first runner less than nine months ago to taking three into his first Newhaven Park Country Championships.
“I haven’t been training very long and some people go a fairly long time without being in the situation I’m in,’’ he said.
“I’m grateful that people have trusted me when I’m pretty green at my job, I don’t think I’m doing too bad a job of it but I’m still pretty green.”
– Racing NSW